Bookkeeper Salary Guide

Updated September 28, 2022

Bookkeeping attracts career-minded professionals with its low barriers to entry and strong upward mobility. Find out how well the field pays and where it can lead.

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In 2019, Strategic Finance magazine published a report detailing a "looming crisis" in the accounting industry. The editorial asserted that not enough new bookkeepers are emerging to replace professionals aging into retirement.

Industry observers agree that software improvements have made bookkeeping more efficient. As a result, the profession's growth rates have slowed, but the Strategic Finance article notes growing gaps between the number of open jobs and the number of people qualified to fill them.

Bookkeepers still play important roles on accounting teams, especially in the small business world. This bookkeeper salary guide explores ways for emerging and established bookkeepers to improve their job prospects and earning power.

How Much Does a Bookkeeper Make?

Bookkeepers


Average Annual Salary, September 2022

$45,160

Source: Payscale

This average bookkeeper salary reflects only base pay. Depending on the employer, bookkeepers may qualify for other forms of compensation, such as performance bonuses.

According to Payscale data from September 2022, this additional income can result in a nice earnings boost. Some bookkeepers report earning between $1,000-$19,000 per year in extra pay between bonuses, profit sharing, and commissions.

Experience and education can affect pay, as well. Certifications can also increase a bookkeeper's earning power.

Salary by Education

In the past, a bookkeeper could often enter the profession with only a high school diploma. However, today's employers often prefer or require entry-level bookkeepers to hold associate degrees in accounting or similar fields.

Some bookkeepers possess bachelor's degrees in accounting. However, master's degrees in accounting are usually designed for professionals in more advanced or technical positions.

Instead of graduate degrees, bookkeepers can earn professional certifications that indicate greater ability. These include the certified bookkeeper (CB) designation offered by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers.

The National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers also offers a certification: the certified professional bookkeeper (CPB) license. The CPB and CP credentials share some similarities and add comparable value to a bookkeeper's resume. However, Payscale only publishes salary data for CBs and does not specifically track CPB earnings.

Also, note that the degree-related salaries cover all accounting professionals who hold that degree. Only the CB data is specific to the bookkeeping profession.

Salary by Experience

The answer to "How much do bookkeepers make?" varies with experience. Payscale bookkeeper salary data from September 2022 indicates steady pay increases as their careers advance. These increases peak as a bookkeeper moves from entry-level roles into the mid-career stage.

Payscale also reports that some bookkeepers earn bonuses and additional income through profit sharing and commissions. According to Payscale, these sources can add as much as $19,000 to a bookkeeper's annual earnings.

Job performance tends to improve with experience. Credentials like the CB and CPB certifications may also help bookkeepers develop the superior skills that boost their overall compensation rates.

Salary by Location

Bookkeeper salary levels vary by location, based on factors like local labor market conditions and local living costs. Salaries tend to rise when demand outpaces supply. In these cases, employers may increase their pay rates to attract the best available candidates.

Employers in areas with higher living costs also tend to pay a premium. However, keep in mind that those higher living costs may cancel out the financial benefits of increased bookkeeping salaries.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) groups bookkeepers with accounting and auditing clerks in its job-related data. The data presented in the following table covers all three professions.

Top-Paying States for Bookkeepers, May 2021
State Number of Bookkeepers Employed Average Annual Salary

District of Columbia

2,800

$60,130

Massachusetts

39,740

$53,340

Washington

33,170

$51,460

California

170,580

$51,080

Connecticut

15,810

$51,050

Source: BLS

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Bookkeepers, May 2021
Metropolitan Area Number of Bookkeepers Employed Average Annual Salary

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

9,350

$59,750

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

20,200

$58,670

Napa, CA

770

$54,940

Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CA

3,890

$54,710

Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA

29,130

$54,590

Source: BLS

Where Should I Work as a Bookkeeper?

Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks


Change in Projected Employment from 2021-2031

-5%

Source: BLS

Overall, the BLS projects a 5% decline in labor market demand for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks from 2021-2031. The BLS cites the efficiency improvements offered by advanced accounting software platforms as a major driver of the trend.

Some industry experts believe that not enough bookkeepers are emerging to fill available job openings, indicating opportunities for professionals with the right skills.

Bookkeeping still offers a stable career path that does not demand advanced degrees or extensive training. Some parts of the United States also expect to see above-average demand for qualified bookkeepers in their local labor markets.

Best Areas

BLS data for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks identifies several areas that employ these professionals in large numbers. These areas — led by California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania — share several features:

  • They have multiple large metropolitan centers.
  • They have high urbanization rates.
  • Businesses of all sizes have a strong presence in these states.

In terms of cities, the leading destinations for bookkeepers also rank among the largest metro areas in the United States. Notably, Texas has two cities (Dallas and Houston) in the top five employers of bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks among metro areas.

Looking to the future, Projections Central highlights areas with high expected growth rates for bookkeeping professionals from 2020-2030. Projections Central is a project of the Projections Managing Partnership and works with the BLS and the U.S. Department of Labor in sourcing its data.

Notably, Projections Central identifies areas where it expects demand for bookkeepers to rise in 2020-2030. Some states have projected growth rates of more than 16% for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks in this period. Such areas may merit consideration as you search for a location to launch or continue your career.

Top-Employing States for Bookkeepers, May 2021
State Number of Bookkeepers Employed Average Annual Salary

California

170,580

$51,080

Texas

132,510

$43,550

Florida

92,730

$42,440

New York

88,400

$50,720

Pennsylvania

66,260

$44,470

Source: BLS

States With the Greatest Projected Increase in Employment for Bookkeepers, 2020-2030
State Percent Projected Change, 2020-2030 Average Annual Openings

Greatest Projected Percentage Increase

Utah

16.6%

2,090

Idaho

14.2%

1,270

New York

11.9%

13,070

Washington

11.2%

5,150

Alaska

11.0%

570

Most Projected Average Annual Openings

California

4.4%

21,460

Texas

8.9%

16,980

New York

11.9%

13,070

Florida

8.4%

12,200

West Virginia

6.8%

8,380

Source: Projections Central

Top-Employing Metropolitan Areas for Bookkeepers, May 2021
Metropolitan Area Number of Bookkeepers Employed Average Annual Salary

New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

88,160

$52,810

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

63,270

$50,470

Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI

43,300

$47,800

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

38,900

$45,610

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugarland, TX

31,060

$44,990

Source: BLS

Best Industries

Unsurprisingly, the BLS identifies accounting, tax prep, bookkeeping, and payroll services as the industry that employs the most bookkeepers. Enterprise management ranks as another top employer.

These industries generally provide specialized services to clients that do not employ bookkeepers internally. In 2020, they combined to account for more than 11.5% of all bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks working in the United States.

In terms of pay, bookkeepers tend to earn the most by working in niche industries. Compared to other major employment sectors for bookkeepers, they host relatively few jobs. As such, candidates should expect a more competitive landscape if applying for available openings.

Top-Paying Industries for Bookkeepers, May 2021
Industry Number of Bookkeepers Employed Average Annual Salary

Postal Service (federal government)

330

$70,350

Metal Ore Mining

150

$64,410

Support Activities for Water Transportation

680

$61,050

Monetary Authorities-Central Bank

460

$59,630

Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution

2,340

$57,270

Source: BLS

Top-Employing Industries for Bookkeepers, May 2021
Industry Number of Bookkeepers Employed Average Annual Salary

Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Services

102,170

$44,500

Management of Companies and Enterprises

84,410

$46,820

Local Government (excluding schools and hospitals, OEWS designation)

62,160

$46,760

Real Estate

49,610

$46,400

Credit Intermediation and Related Activities

36,940

$44,220

Source: BLS

Questions About Average Bookkeeper Salary


What is the highest-paid bookkeeper?

According to BLS data from May 2021, the top 10% of bookkeepers earned median base salaries of $61,980 per year.

What do full-charge bookkeepers make?

In September 2022, Payscale reported an average annual base salary of about $50,430 for full-charge bookkeepers.

How much should I charge as a bookkeeper?

In September 2022, Payscale placed the national U.S. average rate for bookkeepers at $18.46 per hour. However, actual rates vary by location. Bookkeepers should research local average rates to ensure they price their services competitively.

Where is the best state to work as a bookkeeper?

In terms of average pay rates, BLS data from May 2021 identifies the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Washington, California, and Connecticut as the top-paying areas. Regarding overall job numbers, the BLS ranks California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania as the states with the highest employment levels.

Is being a bookkeeper worth it?

An aspiring bookkeeper can enter the profession with a two-year or four-year college degree. Average entry-level salaries approach $38,000 per year, according to Payscale. From this viewpoint, bookkeeping offers an appealing path to an accounting career.

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