Generally, the top three things people look into when hiring an accountant are personality, services, and fees. However, in the pre-interview phase, you’ll mostly be curious about the kind of services an accountant offers and how much they charge for it.
Yes, to get an idea of how much hiring an accountant will set you back, you must determine what you actually need from them. That’s because an accountant’s services also tie into their level of accounting expertise.
Today we’ll go over the three types of accounting services, the accounting professional who typically performs them, and their usual rates. In this way, you can pick the accounting specialty your small business needs without spending any more than what’s required.
Three Types of Accounting Services and Their Costs
Depending on the accounting service you need, the rates will differ. The professional’s total charge will also reflect the accounting specialty performed and the amount of work required.
Bookkeeping tasks are usually performed by a bookkeeper, who may or may not be an accountant or CPA. These tasks typically include recording transactions and assembling data, which can be learned without any formal training. Hence, bookkeeping comes with the lowest charge of around $17 per hour on average.
Aside from handling an organization’s income and expense transactions, bookkeepers also take responsibility for the software that houses all this information. They also train employees on how expense entries are supposed to be done and ensure that bookkeeping procedures align with the best practices. Bookkeepers also verify the balances in the firm’s general ledger and troubleshoot in the event of imbalances.
Services of an Accountant
According to Ageras, the services offered by an accountant can only be done by someone with formal education. In short, someone who took a short course in bookkeeping won’t cut it.
An accountant is in a different league compared to a bookkeeper. In fact, most organizations that employ bookkeepers usually require them to report to an accountant. However, if you’re a small business owner who’s looking to hire an accountant often, consider that their experience and education will factor heavily into how much they charge.
Thus, it can be difficult to determine a standard where accountant fees are concerned. More than likely, you would have to pay somewhere around the $20 to $100 range hourly, depending on the service you require.
When you do find a good accountant, their services will usually be worth the price. Not only will this professional do your taxes and keep you abreast of the changing tax policies, but he or she will also provide information critical to managing the company’s finances most efficiently.
Accountants are also responsible for financial statement generation, ensuring that the process is done in accordance with government policies and regulations.
Services of a CPA
When it comes to accounting services, it doesn’t get more expensive than a CPA's services—and rightfully so! That’s because CPAs provide the highest level of accounting specialty.
If you’re thinking about getting a certified public accountant on board your team, consider that their annual salary could be somewhere around the low six figures. That’s a pretty hefty paycheck and might be too much for a small business to shoulder.
A CPA’s hourly rate also varies just as much as an accountant’s. Factoring in post-graduate work and experience, a business owner could pay hundreds of dollars per hour, depending on what’s needed.
The fact that a CPA has a higher salary rate than a regular accountant or a bookkeeper tells you that he or she is the most skilled accounting expert there is. That’s because the road to becoming a CPA can be a treacherous one filled with endless requirements and a comprehensive exam to cap years of formal education.
Also, once one has earned the title of CPA, his or her learning doesn’t stop there. A CPA must continue taking education courses annually to remain certified. Failure to keep up with the changing principles and standards of accounting in one’s own country can result in the loss of the CPA designation.
A CPA’s job mostly centers on the analysis and reporting of financial data. This typically includes ensuring the organization’s accounting policies adhere to the national standard and handling bookkeeping, reporting, and monitoring tasks. Without a CPA on board, these tasks may fall under the responsibilities of an accountant.
Determine What You Need First
Hiring an accountant doesn’t have to be difficult. When you know what to look for, you can get the services you need most cost-effectively. That’s because you’ll know the best person to hire for the job.
Generally, if you’re running a start-up, getting a bookkeeper on board your team is usually enough. However, as your company grows and cash flow tracking starts to get more complex, it would be a good idea to consider hiring either an accountant or a CPA. More often than not, the more complexities a job entails, the more favorable it would be to enlist the help of a CPA.