A bookkeeper sits at a desk while using a laptop and writing notes.

What does a bookkeeper do?

What is a bookkeeper?

A bookkeeper is a professional who helps businesses and other organizations keep their finances in order. They manage general accounting ledgers, record journal entries, and generate financial statements.

Bookkeeping is vital to your business finances, but what exactly is in a bookkeeper job description? 

Broadly, a bookkeeper's job is to manage the books by keeping track of day-to-day business finances. Bookkeeping professionals have their own expertise based on the types of businesses and industries they serve.

Let’s explore what bookkeepers do, some of the benefits of bookkeeping, and your options for using a bookkeeper.

Common bookkeeper duties

Bookkeepers help businesses keep their finances on track by keeping tabs on different accounts, transactions, and reports. They collect, organize, and store the business’s financial records, including cash flow statements, reconciliation statements, and profit and loss statements.

A list of bookkeeping duties and responsibilities.

Bookkeepers also make it possible for business owners and accountants to build budgets, identify trends, and plan for the future. 

Some typical bookkeeping responsibilities include:

  • Complete data entry and collect transaction details for incoming and outgoing bank accounts.
  • Use bookkeeping software, spreadsheets, and other databases to post up-to-date financial transactions.
  • Generate financial reports, such as balance sheets and income statements.
  • Maintain and monitor financial records for accuracy.
  • Reconcile or report any discrepancies in financial reports.
  • Produce or pay invoices for credit card bills or inventory orders.
  • Complete payroll.

You might need only some or all of these services that can be part of the job of a bookkeeper. How your business operates is unique, and your bookkeeping follows suit.

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Types of bookkeeping

There are different types of bookkeeping services available, depending on the time and money investment you want to make. If you’re thinking about hiring a bookkeeper or want to clean up your business books, there are different bookkeeping types that can suit your needs. 

Bookkeeping options include: 

  • DIY: If you know numbers and spreadsheets, doing bookkeeping yourself is an option. However, it’s important to consider how time-consuming the tasks might be, and how they might cut into your other business responsibilities.
  • Bookkeeping software: For many business owners, intuitive business software like QuickBooks empowers them to take the lead on their bookkeeping efforts.
  • Remote or virtual bookkeeper: A remote or virtual bookkeeper works entirely online, which can be convenient and cost-effective. If you're a QuickBooks Online user, you can connect with QuickBooks Live Expert Assisted to help bring your financials up to date and manage your books going forward.*
  • Firm: A bookkeeping and accounting firm can provide a variety of business and financial services, including bookkeeping, accounting, tax filing, payroll services, and consulting. Often, bookkeepers and certified public accountants (CPAs) work under the same roof.
  • In-house professional: You could hire a full-time or part-time employee to do your bookkeeping. This tends to be one of the more expensive avenues for small business owners.

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Get help and guidance when you need it from real QuickBooks experts.*

Benefits of having a bookkeeper

You know what a bookkeeper does and what their day-to-day responsibilities look like. But how do these job duties translate as benefits for your business? A bookkeeper can help ensure your business finances are organized and lets you focus on running and growing your small business.

A list of bookkeeping benefits.

Benefits of bookkeeping include:

  • Time to focus on your business: Bookkeepers free up time in your schedule for things like building your vision, polishing workflows, and boosting your bottom line. 
  • Accurate financial records: Hiring a professional bookkeeper minimizes the margin of error. Professional bookkeepers can help you generate accurate financial reports and data. (QuickBooks Live Full-Service Bookkeeping even provides an accurate books guarantee**.)
  • Tax preparation: Tidy books mean less cleanup to do when taxes are due. Some bookkeepers offer tax preparation, which can be especially valuable when breaking down complex small business tax codes.
  • Keep historical records: If the IRS or another entity audits your business, having solid bookkeeping records on hand is a huge plus. Often, the auditing process is a simple review of your records. Things can become more challenging than necessary if your bookkeeping records are out of order.

QuickBooks Online users already have access to verified experts who can support their whole business, from books to taxes. Get peace of mind and personalized expertise focused on your success with QuickBooks Live Expert Assisted*.

Bookkeeper vs accountant: What’s the difference?

There are key differences between bookkeepers and accountants that you want to know before hiring a financial professional.

Bookkeepers help business owners manage their finances by documenting transactions, paying and issuing invoices, generating reports, and recording accurate financial data. Bookkeepers can also deliver reports on your business’s financial standing. But what do all of these figures mean, and where do you go from there? That’s where an accountant comes in.

Accountants use the records a bookkeeper provides and their own expertise to help build budgets, assess finances, and make business decisions. Additionally, an accountant may oversee a bookkeeper’s work. Accountants have higher education requirements and may have training in bookkeeping roles.

When comparing accountants and bookkeepers, know that an accountant may also be a bookkeeper. However, entry-level bookkeepers are not accountants. 

Find peace of mind with QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping

Terms and fees apply. Level of bookkeeping help dependent on offering. See website for more details.
[1] QuickBooks Live Expert Assisted
[2] QuickBooks Live Expert Assisted requires QuickBooks Online subscription. Additional terms, conditions and fees apply. See information and exclusions in the QuickBooks Online terms.

How to choose the right bookkeeper?

If you’re considering hiring a bookkeeper, a few things can play a part in your decision. To help you choose the best option for your business: 

  • Understand your business needs: Identify your business’s specific bookkeeping and accounting needs, whether that is basic data entry, financial analysis, or help with payroll and tax preparation. Consider which bookkeeping tasks you can and want to do yourself with bookkeeping software.
  • Look at qualifications and experience: Search for bookkeepers with relevant qualifications and experience, such as a software certification and the types of businesses they've worked with. 
  • Take a look at your budget: Set a budget for bookkeeping ahead of time to help you find the right bookkeeping service. Request a clear breakdown of their bookkeeping fees and services. 
  • Identify communication preferences: Understand how often you’ll need to connect with your bookkeeper and how easily you can discuss financial matters with them.

Save time with verified expertise for your books

Bookkeepers offer support to several organizations, including small businesses, nonprofits, and corporations. They are vital to managing a business’s finances by documenting transactions, generating reports, and assisting with accounting efforts.

When selecting a bookkeeping style, business owners have several options. Looking for bookkeeping support? Learn how QuickBooks Live Expert Assisted can help you streamline your bookkeeping and free up time spent on finances.

See how this voiceover artist uses QuickBooks Live Expert Assisted.

*QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping requires QuickBooks Online subscription. Additional terms, conditions, limitations, and fees apply.


Accurate Books Guarantee: Accurate Books Guarantee is only available for active customers of QuickBooks Live Full Service Bookkeeping. This guarantee covers the QuickBooks Live Services provided to you for the duration of your QuickBooks Live Monthly Bookkeeping subscription and the Cleanup Period. Accurate Guarantee is not available with QuickBooks Live Assisted Bookkeeping.

At your request, QuickBooks will conduct a full evaluation of your bookkeeper’s work. If your Live Bookkeeper makes an error that requires you to re-open your books for any month, we’ll correct the error in your books for the month that the error occurred at no additional charge. 

Eligible errors include only those made by a Live Bookkeeper. An “error” is: a) a transaction that has been incorrectly categorized to the wrong account; b) an account balance in QuickBooks that doesn’t match the actual account balance; or c) improper transactions which can’t be supported by documentation (including client responses and client meeting notes).

If you invoke the guarantee, QuickBooks will conduct an evaluation of the Live Bookkeeper’s work. You’ll need to provide QuickBooks with a receipt for the transaction in question, correspondence from your outside tax accountant, or a document stating the balance of the account if an account balance is in question.

Live Bookkeepers aren’t responsible for errors resulting from incorrect information that you provide, or if you re-open the books by overriding closure after a Live Bookkeeper completes the month-end closure.

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