All About Careers in Accounting, Bookkeeping, and Payroll


We all have different interests, strengths, and preferences.

Is math your forte? Do you enjoy doing calculations? Do you appreciate how numbers aren’t subjective? If you are someone whose strength is in math and numbers, a career in accounting could be the career of your dreams.

accounting,, bookkeeping, payroll college business program Business women using computer and calculator during note some data on notepad for calculate financial at home office

The accounting terrain has many niche fields that you can specialize in – two of the most common ones are payroll and bookkeeping. However, for someone who isn’t too familiar with accounting, the differences between these two fields can be confusing. In this blog, we’ll look deeper into payroll and bookkeeping, what the differences are, and help you figure out which one is right for you.

What Is Bookkeeping?

Bookkeeping falls under the umbrella of accounting. Typically, bookkeeping refers to the recording of financial transactions and involves preparing source documents for all transactions, operations, and other events of a business.

In essence, bookkeepers are those responsible for preparing the accounts and documenting the daily financial transactions of a business. Financial transactions are recorded in a business’ general ledger using an accounting method called double-entry bookkeeping.

Overarchingly, the general tasks bookkeepers are trusted with consist of accurate data entry and receipt recording and organization. They also work with a variety of important financial statements like the income statement, balance sheet, statement of cash flows, and statement of changes in equity.

Some of the day-to-day responsibilities of a bookkeeper include:

  • Managing the accounts receivable and accounts payable of a business
  • Preparing trial balances, tax returns, and financial statements
  • Completing and submitting taxes, workers’ compensation, pension contribution forms, and other government documents
  • Creating, maintaining, and balancing accounts using manual and computerized systems
  • Posting journal entries

What is Payroll?

Payroll is another facet under the accounting umbrella. In general, payroll refers to the payment of employees by their employer, whether by distributing the money in the form of a cheque or direct deposit. While this is the main ideology behind payroll, it can also refer to accounts for any expenses related to an employee’s employment like taxes and benefits.

In their overall role, payroll administrators are responsible for collecting, verifying, and processing payroll information and determining pay and benefit entitlements for employees within a department, company, or other establishment.

Payroll administrators are responsible for a variety of tasks including:

  • Maintaining records of employee attendance, leave, and overtime to calculate pay and benefit entitlements using manual or computerized systems
  • Preparing and checking statements of earnings for employees
  • Preparing T4 statements and other employee statements
  • Collecting statistical reports, statements, and summaries related to pay and benefit accounts
  • Preparing and balancing period-end reports and reconciling issued payrolls to bank statements

Both bookkeepers and payroll administrators are considered high opportunity occupations according to WorkBC, which means that those who pursue a career in one of these paths are expected to see a higher demand for their job and experience higher pay. To learn more about high opportunity occupations, click here.

Business Programs in Payroll and Bookkeeping

If these two topics we’ve discussed interest you, a career in payroll and/or bookkeeping could be an exciting career path for you to take. At Sprott Shaw College, we offer a variety of Business Administration Programs in payroll and bookkeeping, both of which feature key concepts in accounting principles.

Our 33-week Business Administration – Payroll Program equips students with the key skills needed to excel as a payroll administrator in any industry. The program includes courses in payroll compliance legislation, records of employment, organizational remittances, and regular, non-regular, and termination pay.  

Students who complete our payroll program are also eligible to complete and submit the Application for Certification to receive the Payroll Compliance Practitioner Certification from the Canadian Payroll Association.

On the other hand, our 33-week Business Administration – Bookkeeping Program prepares students with the knowledge and understanding to perform full-cycle accounting responsibilities and duties, under the direction of a designated accountant.

Our bookkeeping program includes courses in corporate accounting, bonds and long-term debt, cost analysis, capital budgeting, federal income taxation in Canada, and more.

Both our payroll and bookkeeping programs are available in an accelerated format or with a practicum placement.

To learn more about these programs and the career possibilities of the accounting industry, contact an advisor below!

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