Menu Close

Bookkeeping Service Prices: 2021 Small Business Fees & Rates

A bookkeeper records and retrieves all the business transactions in your company. These transactions provide a record of purchases (receipts) and sales (invoices) for the goods and services associated with the running of your business.

The monthly average cost of outsourcing bookkeeping services starts at about $400 for very basic payroll administration for a small business, rising to around $900 or more. But, the rates for more complicated accounting can start at $2,500 and increase to at least $5,000/month depending on your requirements.

The typical bookkeeping fees associated with looking after your company books vary depending on what skills you need and the size of your business. At the very basic level, a bookkeeper keeps your accounts up to date and prepares them for an accountant’s scrutiny before submission to the state and federal tax agencies.

You can employ someone to work in-house, but it’s often more cost-effective to outsource the work generated by all but the largest businesses. A typical small business needs a minimum of 10 hours per month to keep on top of the bookkeeping tasks. And, it’s relatively easy to find one of the bookkeeping service companies in your area to do this for you. But, you can’t guarantee their thoroughness without a personal recommendation, and you might not have the spare time to find one. We can help you do this when you complete the form associated with this article.

If you’re a small business, outsourced bookkeeping is essential. It will save both time and money when keeping on top of your business’s financial administration. This guide will give you an insight into the types of accounting solutions available and how much typical monthly bookkeeping fees cost.

Basic vs. Full-Service Bookkeeping

Firstly, let’s look at which accounting solution you need. Suppose you’re a small business or a start-up. In that case, it’s doubly important to comply with your state and federal tax regulations. Furthermore, to keep your company’s cash flow and reputation intact, you must ensure you get paid regularly and pay your bills promptly, including the payroll.

Once your company reaches a certain size, you need accurate financial reports and accounting analyses for the directors or senior management team to steer the company policy. Now is the time to use professional bookkeepers who can carry out advanced accounting methods.

So before we go any further, you need to decide whether you need simple and basic bookkeeping or the more complex solutions of full-service accounting. Then we can consider how much each solution costs.

Basic Bookkeeping

Above all, a competent bookkeeper maintains your company’s compliance with the various regulations and records your sales and purchases. Once this is in order, and you know the company’s cash flow baseline, you begin to optimize your business model to increase your finances. This is when a full-service solution comes into its own.

So, basic bookkeeping services provide the following:

  • Ensures your company complies with the state and federal finance regulations.
  • Maintains accounts dealing with incoming revenue and outgoing payments.
  • Records all transactions and maintains financial records in an easily recoverable format.
  • Manages and processes basic payroll.

Full-Service Bookkeeping

Larger companies that have more employees and have been trading longer require more in-depth accounting services. So do companies that have high volume and high monetary transactions.

A full-service bookkeeper does the basic bookkeeping. Furthermore, they also optimize financial strategy and advise top management on improving efficiency and increasing profits.

On top of the basic services already mentioned, typical full-service bookkeepers supply the following services:

  • Maintain financial statements and records to comply with approved and recognized accountancy practices.
  • Identify monthly financial reporting and analyses for company growth.
  • Prepare and consult for tax planning.
  • Prepare and defend accounts for financial audit.
  • Bank and credit card account management.

Bookkeepers Billable Hours & Fees

To make things complicated, in-house part-timers and full-timers, and outsourced freelancers often have different bookkeeping rates.

On average, the cost of bookkeeping is around $20/hour. However, the actual price of a bookkeeping solution will vary depending on certain factors, which we’ll talk about later.

Part-Time Bookkeepers

Usually, you can expect to pay $400-$800/month plus benefits, usually on an hourly pro-rata basis, for a part-time bookkeeping service. The variation in charges depends on your location in the country and the tasks you expect the part-timer to do. Bear in mind that usually, a part-timer performs basic bookkeeping and will require supervision by you or another manager. You must also review their work for mistakes. This type of service works well to keep up with most of the accounting work but needs a few hours of part-time help each month.

Typical part-time tasks include:

  • Tracking employee timesheets.
  • Monitoring expense account receipts.
  • Inputting company purchase receipts and sales invoices to the appropriate ledgers.

 

Full-Time Bookkeepers

On average, you can expect to pay $3,000-$4,500/month or $35,000-$55,000/year plus benefits and the various overhead costs for a full-time bookkeeping service. Once again, the actual rates depend on location and job description. For example, larger cities attract a higher cost of living, which might move the upper salary limit to around $70,000/year plus benefits, or even more. Not only this, but the higher real estate costs in such locations increase the company overheads and office space rents. In effect, these factors increase employee costs by around 20%.

At first sight, hiring a full-time bookkeeper might seem expensive. But, they would run the following operations in the company’s finance office:

  • Handle the day-to-day accounting for the company.
  • Keeps expenditure monitored and under scrutiny.
  • Pays bills.
  • Invoices customers or clients.
  • Manages timesheets.
  • Handles payroll and expense claims.
  • Produce financial statements at month-end.

In fact, the bookkeeper is indispensable and is the cornerstone of your company’s financial well-being. However, the full-timer is still accountable to you as a business owner, so, like a part-timer, you must review their results for accuracy.

Outsourcing Bookkeeping Cost Factors

Once again, before hiring a bookkeeping service, you need to know which parts of your finances to outsource.  Average outsourcing rates start at around $400 and rises to $2,500/month or more. Not only will the level of charge depend on the complexity of accountancy necessary, but it will also depend on the number of transactions necessary to complete the job. Therefore, a larger or more established company will need to pay more when outsourcing bookkeeping services.

Now let’s consider this if you have a small company. You probably either can’t afford the time or aren’t inclined to worry too much about the “nuts and bolts” of company bookkeeping. In this case, outsourced accountancy might be ideal for your situation. Considering the qualified help they provide, outsourcing to a freelance bookkeeper might be very affordable.

Below we discuss various factors that influence your bookkeeping fees.

Business Location

One of the largest factors for bookkeeping and accountancy salaries is the city where you’re located and its associated cost of living. The average cost of bookkeeping and accounting services vary:

  • Depending on whether you live in a rural or urban area.
  • From one state to another across the US.

Based on specialist research, the median hourly wage for bookkeepers across the USA  (as of April 2021) is $21. However, the majority earn between $19 and $24.

Now, if we look at the difference between urban and rural areas, we can see the following trend.

The median annual salary for New York is $53,470, with most salaries between $46,927 and $59,983. Similarly, for Los Angeles, the median salary is $50,269, with most between $44,118 and $56,392.

In contrast, a typical city in a largely rural state such as Belgrade, Montana, has a median salary of $36,735. However, most salaries sit between $32,240 and $41,210. Similarly, the median bookkeeper’s salary for Cody, Wyoming, is $41,899. With the main salary range between $36,772 and $47,003.

Overall, the difference in some of these salaries might not seem very large. But, in aggregate, the values can have a massive impact.

One of the main reasons these dense cities have higher bookkeeping costs than rural areas is the greater demand for bookkeeping services by industries in those areas.  Alternatively, it might just be that there’s more available talent.

You’ll also find a similar variation when considering the average hourly rate for freelance bookkeepers. Here are just a few to show the trend.

State Average Hourly Rate
Florida $15.6/hour
Illinois $16.77/hour
Texas $17.72/hour
California $19.93/hour
New York $21.25/hour

 

Bookkeeping Service Qualifications

If you want accurate and thorough bookkeeping, you must choose qualified professionals. Furthermore, experienced professionals don’t come cheap. The more experienced they are, the more they charge.

Remember that you might not need a highly qualified professional to sort out receipts and other mundane tasks. But, if you do, you know that they’ll be quick and thorough, with very little chance of someone else rectifying mistakes.

There are three main types of certifications that professional bookkeepers aim for.

For a bookkeeper to become certified, they have to complete at least one of the following. Once they have the certification, they can advertise themselves as certified and charge the appropriate pay grade.

AIPB

Suppose the provider doesn’t have any formal bookkeeping education. In that case, The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) certification program and the subsequent exam give the required basic knowledge to work as a bookkeeper.

The AIPB has been this industry’s national association since 1987 and is the US certifying authority. The certification exam costs less if you are an AIPB member, and the membership and exam are recognized nationwide. Once you’ve passed the exam, you are known as a Certified Bookkeeper.

NACPB

Suppose you have an associate or bachelor’s degree in accounting. You can apply for certification under the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB). There are two ‘member’ levels. ‘Members’ are employee bookkeepers while ‘Pro Members’ are bookkeeping business owners. Once the student has satisfied all the NACPB certification requirements, they earn the Certified Professional Bookkeeper (CPB) qualification, recognized throughout the US.

QuickBooks ProAdvisor Cert

After earning a certification from either the AIPB or the NACPB, the Certified Bookkeeper or Professional Bookkeeper can certify in Quickbooks. Quickbooks is an accounting software company whose product is very popular among businesses. 

Quickbooks ProAdvisor certification is ideal for those bookkeepers following the freelance career route. Mainly because they know their way around their potential customers’ QuickBooks accounting software without having additional training. Furthermore, other accounting software is very similar to QuickBooks, so skills transfer easily.

Outsourced Bookkeeping Fee Structure

Outsourcing your company’s bookkeeping to a specialist company is probably one of the best steps that a small business can take. However, you must realize that the outsourced work will vary in price depending on the complexity and amount of the tasks.

Therefore, as with hiring an internal accounts employee who needs a job description, so must you decide which parts of your company’s finance to outsource.

Even though outsourcing means you can choose to give certain types of finance work to specialists, such as the mundane or the advanced financial management. It also means you significantly inflate the bookkeeping costs.

How good is your outsourced bookkeeper?

Choose an experienced and certified bookkeeper. You can then be sure that they can do the job in the shortest possible time. But, they also charge higher rates because they have more advanced qualifications and probably a degree.

Here are the common pricing structures available in the bookkeeping industry throughout the USA.

Hourly Fees

Hourly bookkeeping rates are probably the best method for small business owners. You only pay per hour for the work done. Moreover, the amounts will usually be lower than when you pay monthly.

However, the problem with this system is that there is no guarantee that the hours billed tie-up with the time spent on each task. But, you can ask other business owners or read online reviews to find a trustworthy bookkeeper.

On average, the standard rate for hourly bookkeeping will set you back between $20-$50/hour.

Project Cost

This type of pricing system is useful when you have a complicated problem that needs fixing. Another typical scenario is when your accounting has fallen behind schedule. Then, you need to employ additional staff to complete the job on time. So, you ask the provider for a price to complete the project. This way, they will work as hard and as fast as possible to finish, get paid, and move on to the next job.

This system has benefits for both parties. The provider doesn’t know the exact problem, so they might spend wasted time searching for the cause. Therefore, they price the job taking into account the worst possible case. However, the company owner knows that the freelance bookkeeper will pull out all the stops to find the problem and fix it, so must live with the higher price.

Finally, there will be many negotiations before both parties reach a mutually acceptable price.

New Business & Startup Rates

In this scenario, bookkeeping service providers will set up a system suitable for your business type. Once everything is in place, they will hand the system over to you. This is an essential service and one which only a qualified professional can give. When your business reaches a certain level, and you’re ready for the next step, you need your system adapted to changing circumstances.

Fixed Fee Prices

In this scenario, the provider charges for a full bookkeeper service. This requires a lump-sum payment, usually monthly, and suits a business that prefers easy budgeting.

Sometimes providers offer a combination of fixed fees and hourly charges. In this scenario, the customer pays a fixed price, somewhat like a retainer, with hourly fees on top. Typically, fixed payments could be up to $150/month with $30-$40/hour spent working on the books.

Benefits of hiring an Outsourced Bookkeeper

There’s no disputing that hiring an outsourced bookkeeper has many advantages. The obvious one being that a business at any level needs the services of a professional bookkeeper to run the day-to-day tasks in a typical finance office.

We can summarize the other benefits as follows:

  • As the outsourced freelancer is responsible for their own training, there is no need for you to hire a newcomer and pay for training until the person gets up to the required level.
  • You can pay the freelancer’s bill, whether it’s hourly or fixed-sum, without having to worry about paying benefits, medical, social security, etc.
  • It is a cost-effective and time-efficient solution for any company, whether it’s a small start-up or an established multi-national.
  • The outsourced freelancer already has advanced security solutions to protect your confidential financial data.
  • An outsourced bookkeeper provides centralized account management. Furthermore, they can supply account analyses and offer suggestions for your company’s growth.
  • Most outsourced bookkeeping companies provide a team to work on your accounts. Therefore, the customer benefits from their collective experience and has more peace of mind.
  • Most outsourced providers use integrated technology solutions to provide remote access to your accounts and process the data.
  • The customer only pays for the bookkeeping company when needed. They can also choose the appropriate freelancer for the task, depending on their experience.
  • You can choose different pricing schemes to suit various business requirements.

Bookkeeping FAQ

What is bookkeeping Full Charge?

A Full Charge bookkeeper has the same duties as an ordinary bookkeeper, except to be solely responsible for the company’s accounting. Usually, this means the bookkeeper reports directly to a senior manager or director, such as the company’s president. Furthermore, they interact with the company’s board of directors or partners.

What is Full Cycle Bookkeeping?

A Full Cycle bookkeeper can perform all the tasks in the full accounting cycle. The cycle has the following steps:

  • Record each financial transaction.
  • Post the transactions into a general ledger.
  • Prepare a trial ledger
  • Gather and analyze data from transactions.
  • Prepare all financial statements.
  • Close the company’s accounts and update the trial ledger balance after closing the accounts.

Should Bookkeepers sign checks?

Strictly speaking, a bookkeeper shouldn’t sign checks as payment for anything. Suppose you had a dishonest bookkeeper. It would then be very easy to hide their tracks if they decided to steal a portion of your profits.

However, it is very useful in practice if a bookkeeper can sign emergency payments for a small amount, say $100 or $200. And most business owners allow this.

Next Steps

Every business needs someone to do basic bookkeeping and more advanced tasks. Sometimes it’s beneficial to have company employees working on this in the finance office. But, often, it’s far more efficient and cost-effective to outsource your bookkeeping to a specialist company. This way, you only pay for completing the financial tasks as needed.

That sounds good in practice, but it’s sometimes difficult for a business owner to know who to trust with their accounts and confidential financial data.

Let us help you. When you complete the form on this page, you’ll hear from certified freelance outsource companies, with quotes for very competitive bookkeeping service fees for your company’s financial tasks.