If you’re just starting out with your small business, you’ll probably be satisfied with the services of a regular bookkeeper. They’ll be in charge of getting your finances organized, keeping track of sales, income and expenses, and executing payrolls.
However, as your business appetites grow and your company scales, you might ask yourself whether this role should be taken to a higher level as well. In this article, we’ll answer the “What is full charge bookkeeping?” question and explain the job’s duties, responsibilities, educational requirements, and more.
Who Are Full Charge Bookkeepers?
FC bookkeeping is a term that refers to professionals who are fully responsible for a small or medium-sized business’s full-cycle accounting and bookkeeping needs. They usually have more responsibilities than regular bookkeepers and are often in touch with the company’s CEO and upper management.
Larger companies sometimes have the assistance of an outside certified public accountant to review and audit more complicated financial statements and tax returns. If the company grows to the size of a corporation, the full charge bookkeepers’ duties are shifted to a controller.
The full-charge bookkeeper job description goes beyond the usual responsibilities that typical bookkeepers have. Like regular bookkeepers, they keep records of finances, bank transactions, income and expenses, create monthly or weekly statements, and run payroll and timesheets.
However, on top of all that, they have certain accounting duties: gathering insights from all the tracked financial data and preparing financial records and budget forecasts. They also ensure that business practices comply with laws, compute taxes, and prepare tax returns.
No matter how much bookkeeping and accounting duties might differ, a full service bookkeeping job combines some features of both.
Full Charge Bookkeepers vs. Accountants
Even though we’ve gone through the main full charge bookkeeping responsibilities, let’s delve deeper into how an FC bookkeeper’s career differs from that of an accountant.
Full charge bookkeeper duties include many accountant duties, also adding bookkeeping to the bundle. While a regular bookkeeper mostly deals with maintaining the ledger, an accountant is engaged with managing day-to-day financial activities, such as:
- Financial accounting
- Preparing financial statements
- Tax preparation
- Consulting services on financial matters
When we compare a full charge bookkeeper vs. an accountant, we can clearly see that the main difference between the two jobs is that an accountant deals with financial analysis and has to be familiar with tax laws. They usually have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field and often pass an exam to get a certification and become certified public accountants.
Certified public accountants, on the other hand, have greater powers, and are entitled to prepare audited financial statements, represent taxpayers and companies before the Internal Revenue Service, and conduct external company audits.
What is the full charge bookkeeper’s role in comparison to an accountant’s, then? Although FC bookkeepers do provide accounting services, they usually don’t act as financial advisors or deal with auditing and tax reports. Full charge bookkeepers usually seek external assistance from a certified public accountant or a controller.
Full Charge Bookkeepers vs. In-House Bookkeepers
As we’ve seen earlier, the duties of an in-house bookkeeper frequently overlap with those of an FC bookkeeper. However, a regular bookkeeper often works in a company where there is a fully staffed accounting team that deals with business accounting tasks. The role of a bookkeeper is to perform basic tasks such as:
- Tracking bank transactions
- Recording cash receipts
- Creating financial statements
- Data entry
- Limited accounts payable
- Accounts receivable work
Now, let’s take a look at full charge bookkeeper vs. bookkeeper job descriptions and compare them.
While regular in-house bookkeepers deal exclusively with bookkeeping services and should possess basic data-entry and math skills and be familiar with the use of online bookkeeping and accounting software, the duties and responsibilities of full charge bookkeepers are much broader. They should also prepare financial statements, maintain the ledger, and perform all the other bookkeeping services.
However, they are also in charge of some accounting services, too. They will perform tax-related and payroll tasks, coordinate tasks with certified public accountants, and prepare information for auditing purposes.
Full Charge Bookkeeping Educational Requirements
We’ve already mentioned some of the skills that full charge bookkeepers should possess, but we’d like to focus more on their educational background.
First of all, bookkeeping doesn’t require obtaining a college diploma, unlike accounting. To become a bookkeeper, a high school diploma or equivalent and some basic bookkeeping knowledge are enough. However, knowing that there are various types of bookkeeping methods and lots of math and calculation involved, a bookkeeper should have math, data entry, and computer skills.
If you wish to work your way up and earn a full charge bookkeeper salary, you’ll need to get formal qualifications and obtain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in accounting, business administration, or a related field. Some of the courses you might enroll in are tax procedures, business law, payroll accounting, economics, and business math.
Some professionals who’d like to work in larger companies with more complicated accounting-related tasks would often go the extra mile and acquire the Certified Bookkeeper (CB) designation from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers or the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers.
To get one, you’ll have to have at least two years of professional experience in the field and pass the exam.
Knowing what is included in full charge bookkeeping services makes you aware that a degree, skills, and certifications sometimes aren’t enough. Due to the higher level of responsibilities that FC bookkeepers have, some employers insist that candidates have prior bookkeeping and accounting experience.
Those who decide to hire applicants without prior experience would require them to undergo at least six months of on-the-job training to learn about handling payroll, using accounting and bookkeeping software, and the bookkeeping practices the company prefers.
Even though they are not as well-paid as accountants, full charge bookkeepers definitely earn more than regular bookkeepers. Depending on the level of education, years of experience, certifications, and additional skills, the full charge bookkeeping salary in the United States ranges from $37,770 to $47,250. The average base salary per hour is $24.11 as of December 2022.
Depending on your company’s size, the way it’s structured, and the level of expertise required, you might decide whether you need to hire a regular or full charge bookkeeper. Your business would benefit from a full charge bookkeeper if it’s scaling and you can’t handle managing the books and performing full-cycle accounting tasks.
A full charge bookkeeper with certification can help you with recording transactions, processing accounts payable, managing payroll, and doing taxes. When needed, you can hire a certified public accountant to coordinate with an FC bookkeeper and help with audits and tax returns.