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All About Payroll and Bookkeeping Jobs

Interested in starting a career in accounting, but have questions about payroll and bookkeeping jobs? Not sure what the difference is between payroll and bookkeeping? We have the answers you’re looking for!

In this article, we’ll dive into the career prospects of payroll jobs, booking jobs, and the differences between the two (including salary, job tasks, and education requirements) so that you can pick the right path for your accounting career!

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

In this article we cover:

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.

Let’s take a deeper look 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’s general ledger using an accounting method called double-entry bookkeeping.

Bookkeeper Jobs: Daily Tasks

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:

Booking Jobs in 1 photo: binder, calculator and coffee
  • 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

Bookkeeper Salary & Career Prospects

In British Columbia bookkeepers, accounting technicians, and accounting bookers can earn between $16-$36 per hour. While the low end of the pay range is for entry-level positions, the median annual bookkeeper salary is $50,003 (or $24.04/hour).

In Canada, the highest average salary for bookkeeping jobs can be found in Alberta (median of $27.69/hour) and Ontario (median of $25.00/hour). Competition in those provinces makes job prospects difficult for entry-level job seekers, however. 

Bookkeeper salary does take a major jump if you work in the northern territories, however, the take-home wage is about the same when adjusting for the inflated cost of living.

In contrast, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec all boast a high demand for certified bookkeepers of all levels of experience.

3 year outlook for Bookkeeper jobs across Canada from the Canadian Job Bank

Statistics on bookkeeper jobs and wages are sourced from the Canadian Government’s Job Bank.

Interested in taking a Bookkeeping Program? Click here to scroll down for more info!

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 establishments.

Payroll Jobs: Daily Tasks

Payroll administrators are responsible for a variety of tasks including:

Payroll Jobs in 1 photo: Documentation, calculation, and reporting.
  • 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.

Payroll Salary & Career Prospects

In British Columbia wages for Payroll Administrators range from $19-$35 per hour with a median annual salary of $48,750 ($25/hour).

While Payroll Administrator is the generalized job title, it is more likely that you will come across the following titles when exploring the job market:

  • benefits officer – payroll administration
  • pay advisor
  • pay and benefits administrator
  • pay and benefits clerk
  • pay clerk
  • payroll clerk
  • payroll officer
  • salary administration officer

Payroll jobs are widely available across the country, which reflects the position’s high opportunity occupation status, and the demand is projected to continue to grow. 

Supervising positions (for both payroll and bookkeeping jobs) can provide a median annual salary of $65,618 ($33.65/hour) in British Columbia with a high-end wage of  $49.28/hour!

Payroll Jobs map for Canada from the Canadian Job Bank

Statistics on bookkeeper jobs and wages are sourced from the Canadian Government’s Job Bank.

Interested in taking a Payroll Program? Click here to scroll down for more info!

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.

Picking the right Bookkeeper Program

Sprott Shaw’s standard Business Administration – Bookkeeper program is a 33-week-long certificate program that prepares students with the knowledge and understanding to perform full-cycle accounting responsibilities and duties, under the direction of a designated accountant.

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

Sprott Shaw can also provide Practicum opportunities as an option for the bookkeeper program. These practicum components provide students with experience within a workplace and allows instructional staff to observe the student in a practice situation while providing them with the opportunity to gain direct exposure to everyday tasks of bookkeeping jobs.

Sprott Shaw Bookkeeping Programs:

Picking the right Payroll Program 

Our 33-week Business Administration – Payroll Program equips students with the key skills needed to excel as a payroll administrators in any industry.

The program includes courses in payroll compliance legislation, records of employment, organizational remittances, and regular, non-regular, and termination pay.

National Payroll Institute Logo

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 National Payroll Institute.

An accelerated version of the Payroll Program is also available, and can be completed in just 20 weeks!

Workplace practicums are also available (and highly recommended) for students who want to have on-the-job experience to rely on immediately upon entering the job market. Better still, many students are hired directly from their practicum employers!

Sprott Shaw Payroll Programs:

Amanda McGregor Payroll Practitioner

Curious about where Sprott Shaw payroll and bookkeeping students end up after graduation? Check out Amanda McGregor’s story below!


“I chose the Business Administration Bookkeeping Program with Practicum because many more doors would be open to me… Mainland Machinery offered me a job on the last day of my practicum. I am still there and I love it!”

Amanda McGregor, Payroll Compliance Practioner

To learn more about these programs, payroll jobs, bookkeeper jobs, related career opportunities, and the available options for continuing your education,  contact our academic advisors and ask us anything!

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Interested in taking a program at Sprott Shaw? 

Interested in taking a Program at Sprott Shaw?