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Bookkeeper or Accountant? Understand the Difference Before Earning Your Degree

Wondering which career choice might be right for you? Know the differences before you earn your degree.

You’re a numbers person and want to enter the business world. But you’re not sure: Should you become a bookkeeper or pursue an accounting career? While there is some common ground between the two, there are differences as well.

Bookkeeper: A bookkeeper creates data. This is done by recording financial transactions, such as receipts and payments. A bookkeeper might also maintain the payroll system for a business, prepare financial statements, reconcile accounts, and oversee accounts receivable and payable. Generally speaking, a bookkeeper ensures that an enterprise’s financial accounts are in order. Bookkeepers don’t need a college degree, but they do need to be certified in their field.


Accountant: An accountant, on the other hand, analyzes the data, reviewing an organization’s past financial performance and offering advice on future actions. More specifically, an accountant often provides tax and planning advice, performs audits, monitors corporate compliance, prepares records such as tax returns and income statements, and offers advice on financial management. A closely related field is forensic accounting, where individuals use their financial and analytical skills to find evidence of irregularities. The evidence they uncover is often used to prosecute suspected financial crimes.

If your interests lie within the analytical realm, accounting might be the right choice for you and you’ll want to peruse your bachelor’s degree. You’ll be happy to know that the accounting field is growing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of accounting jobs will grow 10% by 2026. The bureau put the median salary for accountants and auditors at $69,350 in 2017.1

What is the best way to pursue your BS in Accounting degree? There are a few options. There is the traditional campus based, full time student route. Or you could enroll in an online college or university to work toward earning your accounting degree. This option is particularly attractive for working professionals who want to continue their careers while earning their degree. Online learning allows you to set up your study calendar to mesh with your busy schedule, so you can do your coursework at home at times when it’s most convenient.

Walden University, an accredited online institution, offers a BS in Accounting program that can help you enter the field and advance your career. The program meets nationally recognized quality standards set by business and government. If your goal is to one day become certified public accountant, or CPA, the program also can help you prepare for the CPA exam. All told, the program can give you an introduction to a fast growing field with great potential for professional and earnings growth.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a BS in Accounting degree program online. Walden’s BS in Accounting program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and has earned the organization’s Specialized Accounting Accreditation.

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Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,