In years past, bookkeeping entailed recording debit and credit amounts for each transaction into a journal and then posting the amounts to the proper accounts in the general ledger. Because this tedious and time consuming process usually resulted in errors, the bookkeeper prepared a trial balance. The trial balance showed that the total of the debit balances in the accounts was equal to the total of the credit balances. After the bookkeeping errors were corrected, the accountant prepared adjusting entries followed by the financial statements.
Today, computer software has eliminated much of the manual journalizing and posting. The bookkeeping is still taking place, but it is being done within the accounting software. For example, each time a check is prepared the Cash account is credited and the software prompts the person at the computer to enter the account to be debited. When a sales invoice is prepared using the accounting software, Accounts Receivable is automatically debited and the Sales account is credited. In addition, the individual customer's record is updated as well as inventory and the cost of the goods sold.
Since the software code requires that the debits and credits are equal in amount, and since the computer doesn't miscalculate balances, the clerical errors no longer occur.
At larger companies, there are now accounts receivable clerks, accounts payable clerks, payroll clerks, cost accounting clerks, and others to assist with the bookkeeping.
You can learn more about bookkeepers and accounting clerks by visiting the Accounting Careers section of AccountingCoach.com.
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Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has worked as a university accounting instructor, accountant, and consultant for more than 25 years. He is the sole author of all the materials on AccountingCoach.com. Read more about the author.