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Accounting Assistant vs. Bookkeeper: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A career in accounting or bookkeeping can be both challenging and rewarding. If you’re interested in working with numbers and keeping financial records organized, then one of these positions may be a good fit for you. Though accounting assistants and bookkeepers share some similarities, there are several key differences between the two roles.

In this article, we discuss the differences between an accounting assistant and a bookkeeper, and we provide additional information about each position.

What is an Accounting Assistant?

Accounting Assistants provide support to accountants and other financial professionals by handling a variety of clerical tasks. They may be responsible for maintaining financial records, preparing reports, processing invoices and payments, and reconciling bank statements. They may also provide customer service, answer questions and resolve issues related to accounting and finance. Many Accounting Assistants have an Associate’s degree in accounting or a related field. Some companies may require Accounting Assistants to have previous experience in accounting or bookkeeping.

What is a Bookkeeper?

Bookkeepers are responsible for maintaining financial records for businesses, organizations or individuals. They keep track of all money coming in and going out and reconcile bank statements. Bookkeepers also prepare invoices, handle Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable, and process payroll. They may also prepare financial reports, such as income statements and balance sheets. Bookkeepers typically work in an office setting, but some may work remotely. Most Bookkeepers have at least an associate’s degree in accounting or a related field.

Accounting Assistant vs. Bookkeeper

Here are the main differences between an accounting assistant and a bookkeeper.

Job Duties

Accounting assistants and bookkeepers have some of their job duties in common, such as filing documents and entering data. However, accounting assistants often have more administrative responsibilities than bookkeepers. For example, an accounting assistant might prepare invoices, manage sales transactions or organize travel arrangements for executives. Bookkeepers typically handle only tasks related to the accounting department, such as processing receipts and payments and maintaining records.

Bookkeepers also usually have a deeper knowledge of the specific accounting processes within a company. They understand how to use specialized accounting software and they can troubleshoot when systems are malfunctioning. Accounting assistants may assist with these activities, but usually in a support role rather than a hands-on one.

Job Requirements

Most accounting assistants and bookkeepers have an associate degree or certificate in accounting, although some may have a bachelor’s degree. Many community colleges offer two-year programs that prepare students for entry-level positions in the field. These programs typically include coursework in accounting principles, financial accounting and computerized accounting. Some four-year colleges also offer bachelor’s degrees in accounting, which can lead to more advanced positions.

In addition to their educational requirements, many accounting assistants and bookkeepers must also obtain certification from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) or the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB). To earn these certifications, candidates must pass an exam that tests their knowledge of bookkeeping principles.

Work Environment

Accounting assistants and bookkeepers work in different environments. Bookkeeping professionals typically work in an office setting, where they can use computers to perform their duties. They may also travel to clients’ locations to provide services for them.

Accounting assistants usually work in a business environment, such as an accounting firm or company. They often work with other employees who are involved in the daily operations of a business.


Both accounting assistants and bookkeepers need to have excellent math skills to perform their jobs accurately. They also both use computer programs to do their work, so they should be comfortable using technology.

However, there are some key differences in the skills that these two positions require. Accounting assistants typically need to have strong research skills so that they can find information about tax laws and regulations. They also need to be able to communicate effectively with clients and other members of the accounting team. Bookkeepers, on the other hand, need to have strong organizational skills to keep track of all the financial transactions made by a company. They also need to have attention to detail to ensure that all the numbers in the financial records are correct.


The average salary for an accounting assistant is $49,794 per year, while the average salary for a bookkeeper is $49,431 per year. Both of these salaries may vary depending on the size of the company, the location of the job and the level of experience the employee has.


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