What Is Full Charge Bookkeeping? Everything You Need to Know About This Job

ByDanica Jovic
August 20,2021

If you’re a business owner, you already know how important bookkeeping is. A bookkeeper helps you stay organized with your finances, keeps records on any sale or purchase you make, and works closely with a CPA on your tax returns. Those are the main duties of any run-of-the-mill bookkeeper. But as your business starts growing, that person’s tasks will become much more complicated and important. At that point, you’ll need to hire a different type of bookkeeping professional. 

So, have you been asking yourself: What is full charge bookkeeping? Read our article to find out.

What Is a Full Charge Bookkeeper?

A full charge bookkeeper is a person responsible for all of a small business’s accounting tasks: recording transactions, managing the general ledger, and preparing financial statements. Full charge bookkeepers are considered crucial for some small businesses, since they can handle accounting tasks like producing balance sheets, doing payroll, and handling taxes. 

Generally, full charge bookkeepers play a vital role in small or medium-sized businesses with less complex books and documents than large companies, acting as a substitute for a controller or even an accountant. A full charge bookkeeper works directly with CEOs and managers, providing them with all sorts of financial statements.

If your company already has a bookkeeper, the logical question is: What does a full charge bookkeeper do that other bookkeepers don’t? Well, a full charge bookkeeper’s role is similar to that of a regular bookkeeper, but it includes more than handling day-to-day transactions and categorizing monthly sales and expenses.

Unlike a regular bookkeeper, a full charge bookkeeper is also responsible for accounting tasks. In some organizations, a full charge bookkeeper supervises other bookkeepers and accounting assistants. Based on their financial reports, a full charge bookkeeper creates balance sheets and income statements for the company’s managers and directors. 

Taking care of the entire accounting cycle is a full charge bookkeeper’s main duty. It includes recording all sales and purchases, organizing the payroll, preparing tax returns, and producing financial statements. The full cycle of bookkeeping has some things in common with accounting, although bookkeeping vs accounting responsibilities are quite different, especially in large organizations. 

When it comes to small businesses and medium-sized companies, a full charge bookkeeper partners with a CPA (certified public accountant). CPAs are professional accountants who are more knowledgeable and skillful than most when it comes to preparing taxes. They collaborate with full charge bookkeepers usually on a quarterly basis and give them advice on how to file taxes correctly, calculate deductions, and use the correct forms. CPAs also stay up to date with updates to tax law, which is why their support is crucial for full charge bookkeepers. 

Depending on the company’s needs, full charge bookkeeper duties include organizing and managing the entire accounting team. Generally, a controller performs these types of accounting-related duties, but with additional educational courses and training, a full charge bookkeeper can also perform those tasks. In this case, a full charge bookkeeper will also work on operating budgets and payroll tasks.

Educational Background for Full Charge Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping doesn’t require formal tertiary education, although people who take on this position need to have a high school diploma and some basic bookkeeping knowledge. Unlike accountants, bookkeepers don’t need to go to college and get a degree, especially if they manage the books of less complex businesses. 

However, when asking how to become a full charge bookkeeper, things are a bit different. Most full charge bookkeeper jobs require a bachelor’s degree in accounting or business. Moreover, to perform complex accounting-related tasks and manage a company’s payroll, bookkeepers should get a license from either the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) or the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB). Both licenses prove that a full charge bookkeeper is qualified and has the requisite hours of experience to properly perform the job. 

Full charge bookkeepers are responsible for managing the general ledger, the most important business document for recording all the company’s sales and expenses. Any transaction your business makes must be documented in a general ledger. At the end of the month, the entries must be reviewed and adjusted. The full charge bookkeeping process includes analyzing and adjusting general ledger entries if needed. For this, a full charge bookkeeper should be able to work with accounting software.

When Should You Hire a Full Charge Bookkeeper?

The main duties of a full charge bookkeeper are to handle accounting-related tasks in your company and provide financial reports to managers and business owners. Considering its role, the first thing you should do before hiring a full charge bookkeeper is to see whether or not your business needs it. The company's size, organizational structure, and the level of expertise required can help you make the right decision regarding a full charge bookkeeper. You also need to understand the roles of a full charge bookkeeper vs controller vs accountant and their inherent differences. Depending on your business’s needs, you can choose the right person for the job.  

For example, some business owners are completely capable of managing advanced bookkeeping tasks without paying for someone else’s bookkeeping services. Thanks to a range of software products, you can quickly learn how to record transactions, manage your payroll, and keep the general ledger updated. With the assistance of an outsourced accountant, you probably won’t need to hire a full charge bookkeeper immediately. 

But as soon as the business starts growing, you won’t have time to manage your books while running day-to-day operations. Depending on the tasks that need to be done, you should decide whether you’ll hire a full-time or a part-time full charge bookkeeper.

A full charge bookkeeper in a small company will work on regular bookkeeping tasks like recording and paying accounts receivable, managing payroll, and doing taxes. Small businesses benefit from full charge bookkeepers since they don’t need to pay for an accountant. Instead, the company hires a CPA when needed, mostly to help a full charge bookkeeper on tax returns, deductions, and payroll. A full charge bookkeeper will perform tax-related and payroll tasks for a fraction of what you’d need to pay for a full-time accountant. 

Medium-size businesses also benefit from full-charge bookkeepers. That’s because full charge bookkeeping includes high-level accounting tasks and managing the accounting department. If you have an experienced and educated full charge bookkeeper, you don’t need to hire a controller for this position.

Frequently Asked Questions
What does full charge bookkeeper mean?

Like regular bookkeepers, full charge bookkeepers help business owners stay organized with their business transactions, but their duties go beyond this. A full charge bookkeeper is responsible for all accounting tasks too. A full charge bookkeeper prepares financial statements, like income statements and balance sheets, and works on the company’s tax returns. While regular bookkeepers work on recording income and expenses, full charge bookkeepers deal with less complicated accounting tasks. 

How do I become a full charge bookkeeper?

Usually, a full charge bookkeeper’s job position requires a bachelor’s degree in accounting or business, but you can also have a high school diploma and get a certificate for full-service bookkeeping. You can get full charge bookkeeper certification at AIPB or NACPB. You also need to learn how to use bookkeeping and accounting software and pass full charge bookkeeper training. When hiring a full charge bookkeeper, most business owners look for a person with a college diploma, a license, and a lot of experience in bookkeeping. 

How much do full charge bookkeepers make?

The average full charge bookkeeper salary in the US is $44,000. However, the wage may vary from state to state, and it also depends on many other factors, including a full charge bookkeeper’s educational background, working experience, and licenses. The costs will also vary depending on whether you’re hiring a full-time or part-time professional bookkeeper. 

Is it hard to be a bookkeeper?

Bookkeeping is a challenging job, especially in large companies and enterprises. If you’re considering this job role, you can read the above article entitled “What is full charge bookkeeping?” to inform yourself about the responsibilities involved with this job.

About the author

Danica’s greatest passion is writing. From small businesses, tech, and digital marketing, to academic folklore analysis, movie reviews, and anthropology — she’s done it all. A literature major with a passion for business, software, and fun new gadgets, she has turned her writing craft into a profitable blogging business. When she’s not writing for SmallBizGenius, Danica enjoys hiking, trying to perfect her burger-making skills, and dreaming about vacations in Greece.

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