Hourly Bookkeeping Rates

Did you know the average small business spends over 100 hours per year on administrative tasks like bookkeeping? If you’re ready to take back that time, consider bringing in an outsourced bookkeeper to manage your books. Read this article to learn about outsourced bookkeeping rates and what goes into determining those costs.

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Hourly Bookkeeping Rates

Do you know how much revenue your business has made this month? Do you know how much of that revenue has been collected? Do you have any outstanding bills that need to be paid? Knowing the answers to these questions—and many others like them—is an essential part of owning and operating a successful business, no matter the size. We know that accounting services can feel overwhelming. From selecting the services you need to choosing the right provider, the options are nearly endless. 

When it comes down to it, if you’re looking for someone to handle basic day-to-day accounting tasks  for your small or mid-sized business, outsourced bookkeeping may be the right option for you. Utilizing a outsourced accounting or bookkeeping service can provide much-needed financial information to inform the day-to-day operations of your business, But the question of rates or expensive price tags can keep you from the service your business really needs. What is the average cost of outsourced bookkeeping, and what kind of bookkeeping rates per hour can you expect to pay? Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just searching “bookkeeping rates 2020” or “independent bookkeeper rates 2021.” There are many factors that weigh into the costs of bookkeeping. 

This article will dive into outsourced bookkeeping rates, including how much you can expect to pay based on what kinds of services you need and the type of provider you choose to work with. In addition to this, we’ll explore other factors—such as location and the complexity of services—and how they impact pricing, too.

List of Bookkeeping Services

Before we jump into bookkeeping rates, let’s discuss the list of common accounting and bookkeeping services available for businesses. It is important to keep in mind that you may or may not need all of the following services, depending upon the size of your business and the complexity of your financial models. Additionally, some small business owners may decide to take on some of these tasks—like payroll or data entry—themselves. When it comes down to it, the right bookkeeper will help you decide which tasks it makes sense for them to take on, including:

  • Accounts payable
  • Accounts receivable
  • Bank reconciliations
  • Credit card management
  • Customer invoicing and collections
  • Daily transactions
  • Data entry
  • Expense tracking
  • Money monitoring
  • Payroll and employment taxes
  • Profits and loss statements

What Is The Hourly Rate For Bookeeping Services?

On average, small business owners can expect to pay between $50-100 per hour for bookkeeping services, depending upon many factors. And, based on the services you require, you’ll probably need at least 5-15 hours per month worth of bookkeeping. So, if you do the math, most small- and mid-sized businesses can expect to pay between $250 – $1,500 per month. But these are just estimates. \

Let’s explore some of the factors that go into the costs of bookkeeping.

What Factors Go Into Bookkeeping Costs?

Size and Complexity of the Business: The cost of bookkeeping is significantly influenced by the size and complexity of a business. Larger businesses with more intricate operations, such as multiple revenue streams and complex financial structures, typically incur higher bookkeeping costs. In contrast, small businesses or sole proprietorships, with their simpler financial systems, often face lower costs in this area.

Volume of Transactions: The volume of transactions a business handles plays a crucial role in determining bookkeeping costs. Businesses with a high volume of transactions, including sales, purchases, and expenses, require more time for bookkeeping, leading to higher costs. Conversely, businesses with fewer transactions benefit from reduced bookkeeping time and lower costs.

Industry-Specific Requirements: Different industries have unique accounting and bookkeeping needs. Industries such as manufacturing, construction, or healthcare often require specialized bookkeeping knowledge or software, which can raise the overall costs. Standard industries with more common financial practices typically incur lower costs, thanks to the availability of generic accounting solutions.

Level of Service Required: The extent of bookkeeping services required also affects the cost. Comprehensive bookkeeping services, encompassing tasks like accounts payable/receivable management, payroll processing, and financial reporting, are more expensive. Basic bookkeeping services, focusing on tasks like transaction recording and bank statement reconciliation, are generally less costly.

Type of Bookkeeping System Used: The choice of bookkeeping system impacts costs as well. Manual bookkeeping systems often have lower upfront costs but might require more labor hours, while automated or software-based systems, such as QuickBooks or Xero, may involve higher initial investment but can lead to time savings and fewer errors, potentially reducing long-term costs.

Qualifications and Experience of the Bookkeeper: The professional qualifications and experience of the bookkeeper are critical factors in cost determination. Certified or highly experienced bookkeepers typically command higher fees due to their expertise, offering more efficient service of higher quality. In contrast, less experienced or uncertified bookkeepers might charge lower rates but could be less efficient and knowledgeable.

Frequency of Bookkeeping Services: The frequency of bookkeeping services also plays a role in cost. Regular, ongoing services usually come with a monthly or annual fee, whereas occasional or one-time services, like end-of-year tax preparation, might be charged differently.

Geographical Location: The cost of bookkeeping can vary widely based on the business’s geographical location, influenced by factors like the cost of living, local demand for services, and regional economic conditions.

Experience Level and Qualifications

Experience and qualifications matter. You can expect to pay more for someone who has 10 years of experience over one year. In addition to experience, the more qualified a bookkeeper is, the more likely they are to charge more for their services. There are three main types of certifications available to bookkeepers: the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers, the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, and the QuickBooks ProAdvisor Certification. If your prospects have any of these certifications, you’ll pay more—but you can expect higher-quality results.


Like everything else, the cost of bookkeeping can vary  based on where the company is located. In rural Kansas, hourly bookkeepers can expect to make about $16.29 an hour. However, in Washington D.C., the same bookkeeper could expect to make $27.86 an hour. Understanding costs associated with bookkeeping where you’re located can help you put pricing into perspective. It’s also important to keep in mind that these numbers are averages that take into account part-timers, full-timers, freelancers, and all levels of experience. 

This is the same in countries outside the United States, too. For example, if you’re searching online for “bookkeeping price packages Canada,” you’ll find very different rates for services located in Toronto and Montreal than you would for services headquartered in small towns like Leduc, Alberta or Midland, Ontario.

What Are The Types of Bookkeepers?

When it comes to procuring a bookkeeper, there are several different options you can choose from, and each comes with its own pricing structure. 


If you’re a small business owner who is great with numbers, spreadsheets, and organization, doing your own bookkeeping may be an option. While this option can save you money—you don’t need to hire someone else—bookkeeping takes up valuable time. Recent reports estimate that small- and mid-sized businesses spend roughly 5% of their time on administrative tasks like bookkeeping and accounting. That might not seem like much, but that’s over 100 working hours a year that could be better spent on your business.

In-House Professional

If your business produces a large amount of complex transactions, hiring an in-house professional might seem like an easy solution. However, hiring an in-house professional can be more costly than other options. How much do bookkeepers charge monthly that work part-time or full-time? The average salary of a full-time bookkeeper in the United States is $44,609, or about $3,717 per month plus benefits. Part-timers can expect to be paid about the same as freelancers. As this is one of the most costly options, it is perhaps best saved for businesses that truly need to have a need for a financial professional on their team. 


Just like any other freelancer, freelance bookkeepers work for themselves and provide bookkeeping services for clients. Freelance bookkeepers can be a good option if you understand bookkeeping in depth, and are able to be the second set of eyes for your books. When selecting a freelancer, it is important to review their work history and any certifications, degrees, or credentials they have when it comes to bookkeeping. However, freelancers with these types of credentials are often more expensive. Cheaper bookkeepers are often part time and work on the weekends or night, often making it difficult to communicate with them and train them. So, how much do freelance bookkeepers charge? The freelance bookkeeper hourly rate in 2021 averages out to be about $20.17, but a business that is looking for a reputable and consistent freelancer may struggle to find someone at this price. This is likely because of a high number of part-time bookkeepers and overseas freelance bookkeepers. Regardless of location, a freelance bookkeeper with the proper credentials will likely cost $40 an hour or higher. 

Outsourced Bookkeeping Firm

If you don’t have the budget to hire someone in-house but want bookkeeping experts with quality control, outsourced accounting firms can provide some—or all—of your needs. One of the main differences between firms and freelancers is that the outsourced firms have likely already checked into their employees, providing you with a level of quality assurance. Because they are responsible for employing the bookkeeper, they can also provide continuity of services should a bookkeeper leave. Outsourced firms might also offer other services—like accounting or HR—allowing you to take care of all your outsourcing needs with one company. There are often price, workflow, and scale advantages to use your accounting and outsourced CFO services partner at the same place you do bookkeeping. Outsourced bookkeeping rates with firms are often, on average, between $50-100 an hour. At Milestone, we charge $60 an hour for our expert bookkeeping services.

Virtual Bookkeeper

Any of the above types of bookkeepers can be a virtual bookkeeper—those bookkeepers who interact with their clients and do all their work virtually or remotely. So if you’re looking for the answer to “how much do virtual bookkeepers charge?,” you’ll need to explore what type of virtual bookkeeper you need. Review the different types above to learn more.

Amount and Type of Transactions

Single Entry Bookkeeping and Double Entry Bookkeeping

Many google results will talk about single entry and double entry bookkeeping. In reality, any functioning small business that pays taxes and has at least one employee should be using a double entry system and at least quickbooks online to manage their bookkeeping. 

Types of Bookkeeping transactions

Bookkeeping has two different dimensions that determine price volume and complexity. Bookkeeping is often billed at an hourly rate, so the more transactions a business has the more it’s bookkeeping will cost. 

Some businesses have complex accounting workflows. At the bookkeeping level, this often means that for an individual transaction it may require more steps to record the transaction. That means more time and expense. 

Pay Structures For Bookkeeping

There are a few different ways that bookkeeping providers structure their pay scales. Here are some common pricing options you may come across during your research:

Hourly Fees

A popular option, business owners are charged by the hour. With this pay structure, businesses can expect to pay for time spent doing the bookkeeping, in addition to phone calls, emails, or other tasks associated with the work. Hourly fees can vary significantly, but in general you can expect to pay between $50-100.

Fixed Fees

Fixed fees in bookkeeping are often monthly fees. Rather than tracking time spent on individual activities, businesses are charged a fixed fee based on what kinds of services are being provided and how long, on average, they take. But what is the average monthly cost for a bookkeeper? Between $250-2,000, depending upon the amount of transactions and the complexity of the work.

Project Fees

If you have a specific project you need a bookkeeper for, such as catching up on record keeping or getting your bookkeeping process off the ground, a project-based pay structure may be just what you’re looking for. The pricing on this may vary based on the complexity of the project, but you can expect it to fall in line with basic hourly rates.


Finally, are there other things you need in addition to bookkeeping services? For example, do you already have a QuickBooks Online account, or do you need to purchase one in addition to bookkeeping services? These kinds of fees can weigh into pricing, and may account for monthly, annual, or one-time costs.

Sample Bookkeeping Packages

Now that you understand bookkeeping services and what goes into the cost of bookkeeping, let’s explore bookkeeping packages. Before selecting a bookkeeper, business owners should first understand what services they need and find a package that fits the bill. 

At Milestone, we offer a tiered approach, offering foundation and growth packages. View our bookkeeping and monthly accounting packages.

Milestone: Outsourced Bookkeeping Expertise for your Business

Are you ready to focus your energy on growing your business, not on keeping your books? Consider Milestone your partner in business. We offer a refreshingly forward approach to accounting and bookkeeping for small business. With dedicated experts and best-in-class tools, our team of bookkeepers will keep your finances up-to-date and accurate so you can make smart decisions about your business. No matter what phase of the entrepreneurial journey you’re in, Milestone can provide you with the peace of mind knowing your financials are taken care of.

So, whether you need bookkeeping services, outsourced accounting services, fractional or outsourced CFO services, or a package that provides flexibility, we are ready to help. We are dedicated to providing best-in-class services for your business today, tomorrow, and into the future. Ready to unleash your back office? Contact us today.

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