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Full Charge Bookkeeper Advantages for Small Business Owners


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Does your business financials require the services of a full charge bookkeeper? 

Below, we will define and break down the differences and similarity between this role and similar ones. We will discuss qualifications,responsibilities, and necessary skills and how to find and hire one. 


What is a Full Charge Bookkeeper?

Definition and Scope of Responsibilities

A full charge or full service bookkeeper is someone who handles all the bookkeeping needs of a business plus accounting duties. 

Understanding the nuances that sets full charge apart from standard bookkeepers and accountants can be tricky. Throughout this article, we will do our best to differentiate them clearly. 

We’ll start by itemizing the responsibilities associated with the role. 

Their responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Recording and categorizing into accounts and sub-accounts 
  • Reconciliation of bank, cash, and other affected accounts 
  • Accounts receivable and accounts payable management 
  • Creating and adjusting journal entries
  • Cash flow monitoring 
  • Managing payroll, billing, vendor payments, and invoicing
  • Making financial statements and reports
  • Preparing receipts, records, and other documents for audits. 
  • Overseeing a team of accounting clerks and bookkeepers 
  • Making reports directly to higher management and stakeholders
  • Handling tax-related processes 


If you’ll notice, a full service bookkeeper takes “charge”of all the duties of a bookkeeper. Where they differ is the addition of managerial, tax, and accounting related responsibilities. 


Key Benefits of Hiring a Full Charge Bookkeeper

Expertise in Comprehensive Financial Management

Full service bookkeepers are in charge of managing complete cycles of accounting. 

They have a comprehensive knowledge of the ins and outs of the bookkeeping process. This is why this service is called an end-to-end solution. 

The accounting cycle looks something like this:

  • Identifying transactions and collecting financial information
  • Recording journal entries 
  • Adjusting entries 
  • Posting to the general ledger
  • Preparing a initial, adjusted, and post-close trial balances
  • Reversing entries
  • Preparing financial statements and reports
  • Closing entries 


Getting into specifics, they also help manage things like invoicing, payroll, and calculating and preparing tax returns. This includes all the aforementioned responsibilities. 


Cost Efficiency

What does it cost to hire a full charge bookkeeper? How can it be more cost-effective than hiring multiple personnel for different accounting tasks​​?

Bookkeeping rates can vary based on experience and skill level. On average, they make about $22-$25 per hour. Depending on your needs, you may need to hire a team to handle all the responsibilities. 

When you factor in CPAs and controllers that earn about $40 an hour, the costs add up. 

Full service bookkeepers can handle all bookkeeping and a lot of the accounting duties. While we can’t give an exact number, we can estimate that it’s around $35/hour. 

Instead of an entire team, they can oversee one or two people. Plus, instead of hiring CPAs, you can pay for only the CPA services your full service bookkeeper can’t perform. 


Essential Skills and Qualifications


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Professional Requirements for Full Charge Bookkeepers

Education and Certification

For bookkeeping as a profession in general, people can start straight out of highschool. Aside from a highschool diploma, there aren’t any mandatory requirements to begin financial record-keeping. While this is the minimum requirement, those desiring to be full service bookkeepers typically undergo additional training.

They must also obtain certification from a recognized authority like the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) or the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB). These certificates or equivalents typically have an exam that one must pass. 

Having a degree in a relevant business or finance focus is also more attractive to those looking to hire. Sometimes you can also obtain certification through the educational route. Some bookkeepers also seek out seminars and other methods of continuous learning.

While these aren’t strictly necessary, hiring managers are more likely to gravitate to resumes with these experiences and backgrounds. This is because it’s an extra layer of security. It breeds confidence in a candidate’s abilities, competencies, and knowledge of best practices and industry standards.

Additionally, businesses may also conduct OJTs to familiarize bookkeepers with the specific processes and software they use. 


Institutions also typically train people in the essential skills they need to be effective bookkeepers. 

These skills include:

  • Math skills and competencies with numbers 
  • Organizational and administrative skills
  • Analytical skills and skills related to statistics 
  • Communication and leadership skills
  • Technical skills related to accounting tools, software, and programs 


Technical Proficiency

Speaking of skills, software expertise and the ability to handle complex accounting systems​​ is a must. 

They should have at least a baseline familiarity with the most popular tools used by bookkeepers and accountants. At expert levels, they use computer tools, programs and software to their full potential. Beyond spreadsheets, they also know how to create efficient rules for automating these processes for maximum productivity. 


Full Charge Bookkeepers vs. Other Accounting Roles


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Comparison with In-House Bookkeepers and CPAs


In-House Bookkeepers

These are existing employees on a salary who handle your financial record-keeping. They report to a manager as part of an accounting team. They handle the bookkeeping within a business usually on a full-time basis. 


Certified Public Accountants (CPAs)

These are individuals who have passed the Certified Public Accountant exam. They have the authority to review and process tax returns due to their in-depth knowledge of tax codes and regulations. They help with GAAP compliance and other SOPs. This means they have the capability to provide tax advice that helps you save money, and avoid penalties and IRS audits.


Full Charge Bookkeepers 

Some might consider this position as a sweet spot between regular bookkeepers and accountants. For small to medium-sized businesses, these individuals can handle most of your bookkeeping and accounting needs.

They have the foundational skills to keep accurate financial records. On top of that, they have the knowledge to make sure your financials are tax ready and compliant.

They report directly to upper management, like the business owner, CEO, and stakeholders. They do still, however, need to submit documents to a CPA for review. Regardless, they can significantly cut down the time it takes for a CPA to go over your books. This also means they cut down the costs associated with that service. 

Note: Some sources would say that they do not handle audit and tax reporting. Others may equate them to “CPAs without the certification” and include these responsibilities. This is something you should clarify with your bookkeeper during the hiring process. 

You may be asking why full service bookkeepers don’t all become accountants since their duties are so similar. 

One reason is because of the CPA exam. The time and money investment may not be something everything is willing to go through. The exam itself is costly, and if you fail you need to pay again.  Add the cost of review centers and the stress associated with it and most would rather not. 


Hiring a Full Charge Bookkeeper


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Where to Find Qualified Candidates

Here are some suggestions on how to hire and find a bookkeeper who can handle these full accounting cycles. 

You can look for freelancers and contractors on reputable freelance marketplaces, business social platforms, and agencies. Some of these include Upwork, LinkedIn, FreeUp, Bench, Xendoo, 1800-Accountant, and more. 

What to Consider Before Hiring

What are some key considerations you should consider before hiring? 

Business size is one important factor. A lot of bookkeepers and bookkeeping services, and agencies have a monthly revenue limit they can accommodate. Full service bookkeeping is a solution that typical works best for small to mid-sized businesses 

In simple terms, financial complexity refers to how intricate your or complex your transactions are. The more complex, the higher the skill level needed and perhaps the more people you need handling your books. 

Consider any business-specific needs. For instance, you might want someone experienced in your specific industry and its nuances.


Frequently Asked Questions


How do I determine if my business needs a full charge bookkeeper or a standard bookkeeper?

Determine what your bookkeeping needs are. Consider the cost of hiring bookkeepers and accountants. Do you want a team for checks and balances? Or do you want a more streamlined process with one person managing almost everything?

What are the ongoing professional development requirements for this role?

There are no mandatory requirements. However, a good full service bookkeeper will dedicate themselves to continuing their learning. They will attend seminars, review best practices, and similar actions to provide the best service possible.

Are there specific industries or types of businesses that benefit most from this role?

SMBs benefit from this service the most. This role is quite flexible to most industries, so it all depends on your specific situation. 

How does this role evolve as a business grows?

Full charge bookkeepers can take on some roles of a financial controller and can become certified public accountants if they pass the exam. 

What are common challenges faced by individuals in this role and how can they address them?

Because they handle a lot of tasks, time management can be difficult. Leveraging software and automation can help minimize time spent on repetitive, time-consuming tasks. They can also apply organizational skills and efficient processes to get the job done quicker. 


What Is AccountsBalance?


AccountsBalance is a monthly bookkeeping service specialized for agencies & SAAS companies.

We take monthly bookkeeping off your plate and deliver you your financial statements by the 15th or 20th of each month.

You’ll have your Profit and Loss Statement, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow Statement ready for analysis each month so you and your business partners can make better business decisions.

Interested in learning more? Schedule a call with our CEO, Nathan Hirsch.

And here’s some free resources:


In Summary

Standard and full charge bookkeepers are alike in many ways. They take on most of the same roles and responsibilities. The major difference is that full service bookkeepers have more managerial and accounting related duties. Hopefully we’ve given you a better grasp of these differences and nuances between bookkeeping roles and even between bookkeepers vs accountants. With this knowledge and the other advice we’ve given, you’re more ready to make that hire. 

Want help with your bookkeeping? We make it easy. Get startedSpeak w/ a Founder, or Schedule a Callback

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Julia Valdez

Julia Valdez

Julia is a career freelancer and agency owner turned coach for those seeking abundance and victorious living. A professional teacher and decades-long lover of the art of words on paper and the stage, she loves sharing actionable advice on life-changing topics. When she’s not helping freelancers and other small business owners grow, you can find her sharing lots of laughs over little crazy things.

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