On the Lookout for Payroll Manager or Payroll Clerk Jobs?

Payroll notebooks

If you’re interested in payroll clerk jobs or working your way up to payroll manager, here's good news: According to Robert Half's latest Salary Guide for Finance and Accounting, the salary ranges for these professionals are on an upward trend. 

What's more, payroll is such an important role that it's in demand in most locations. Here are the essential facts you should know about payroll manager and payroll clerk jobs, including salary, duties and skills.

If you want to take a look at jobs in payroll in your area before you read any further, check out our Job Search.

Salary benchmarks for payroll jobs

2017 Salary Guide coverAccording to the Salary Guide, the average starting salary for a payroll manager/supervisor at a large company (more than $250 million in annual sales) is $63,750 to $98,750 in 2017, up 3.8 percent from 2016; payroll clerks at large companies are projected to receive $38,750 to $50,250 as a starting salary this year, an increase of 3.5 percent from 2016.

A payroll manager/supervisor in a midsize company ($25 million to $250 million in annual sales) can expect a starting salary range between $52,500 and $78,000, up 3.8 from 2016; a payroll clerk is likely to start with a salary between $37,000 and $49,750, which is up 3.6 percent from last year.

At small companies (up to $25 million in sales), the typical starting salary for a payroll manager is between $44,750 and $63,500, which is 3,6 percent higher than last year; a payroll clerk can command a starting salary of $34,500 to $43,750, an increase of 3.3 percent from 2016.

Visit our Salary Center, where you can use the Salary Calculator to adjust these salaries for your city. Also, anticipate adding 5 to 15 percent to these starting salary ranges if you have a graduate degree or professional certification.


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Duties and expectations

What will you do in these roles? In payroll clerk jobs, you’ll spend your time carrying out data entry tasks, reconciling time cards, and distributing paychecks and statements to department managers. You'll also be expected to respond to employee and vendor inquiries.

For payroll managers/supervisors, policy and compliance are vital responsibilities. You’ll be entrusted to maintain compliance with current regulations, prepare government reporting, plan and implement payroll policies, prepare accruals and reconcile ledgers, as well as recruit, train and supervise payroll staff.

Professional experience and skills

Though many hiring managers prefer candidates with payroll experience, there are entry-level payroll clerk jobs available. You’ll need at least a high-school level of education and proficiency in Microsoft Office to be considered a good entry-level candidate.

Hiring managers expect experienced payroll clerks to know their way around automated payment processing systems, too. All payroll clerks need strong communication, organization and customer service skills to get the job done.

For payroll managers/supervisors, strong communication and organization abilities are important, as are interpersonal skills. Your level of experience and expertise is expected to be far greater — you’ll generally need at least five years’ experience in payroll, as well as relevant qualifications.

A payroll manager normally holds a bachelor’s degree in an accounting or finance discipline and, ideally, has a certified payroll professional (CPP) designation. You’ll also need to be proficient with a range of payroll software, including enterprise resource planning (ERP) and automated payment processing systems, in addition to Microsoft Office applications.

Here's the story behind National Payroll Week, which is a reason to celebrate every September.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in May 2014 and has been updated recently to reflect new Salary Guide data.