If you’re thinking about starting or switching to a career in payroll, know that this profession is about much more than remunerating employees. Payroll is a multidisciplinary field that encompasses finance, human resources (HR), customer service, IT, data analysis, and compliance and risk management. It’s a path that can also lead you to rewarding roles in dynamic and growing industries — like healthcare.
You need specific skills and knowledge to work in healthcare payroll jobs, though. The following six suggestions can help you to find your niche as a payroll professional in the healthcare industry:
1. Make payroll compliance a top priority
Healthcare organizations are subject to unique employment regulations and requirements, which makes payroll compliance a key concern for industry employers. Whether you’re seeking a job as a payroll clerk, payroll coordinator/administrator, or payroll manager/supervisor, you’ll stand out if you’re well-versed in healthcare payroll compliance.
Areas of compliance for healthcare facilities include timekeeping, minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping, meals and breaks, mandatory and voluntary deductions, compensation for nonexempt and exempt employees, and governmental reporting. Though these practices are relevant to other industries as well, the rules tend to be exceptionally nuanced for healthcare organizations.
If you’re new to payroll, prospective employers won’t require you to know the ins and outs of regulatory compliance. Still, you should consider gaining a basic understanding of wage-and-hour regulations in the healthcare field. (You could start your research on the U.S. Department of Labor website.)
2. Level up your payroll technology skills
You’ll be hard-pressed to find an employer who doesn’t use payroll technology to improve accuracy and compliance in the payroll function. For this reason, proficiency in digital payroll solutions is one of the most in-demand payroll skills.
You don’t need to be an expert in payroll technology to get an entry-level healthcare payroll job. But if you want to outshine other candidates, you’ll need at least rudimentary knowledge of payroll software and technologies. For payroll administrator and payroll manager positions, healthcare employers may prefer candidates with software experience specific to that industry.
3. Prepare for multi-state payroll
While single-state payroll processing jobs are certainly available in healthcare, payers (insurance companies and others) and providers often have payrolls that cross state lines — especially with the rise of remote work. So, when searching for a job in healthcare payroll, awareness of multi-state payroll can help you leapfrog the competition.
Multi-state payrolls are intricate in general, but when you’re operating in a healthcare environment, it gets even trickier. The payroll team, for instance, may be responsible for paying hundreds or thousands of employees in medical and/or dental offices across different states. Federal statutes as well as varying state and local laws must be identified, interpreted and applied, making multi-state healthcare payroll an extremely complex operation.
4. Be ahead of the learning curve
Having a basic grasp of healthcare regulatory compliance, payroll technologies, and multi-state practices can bolster your chances of getting hired for a payroll position in the healthcare industry. But how do you acquire that knowledge?
Watching webinars or reading online materials offered by reputable payroll organizations and government agencies can be helpful. Another option is to get certified. You could obtain the American Payroll Association’s Certified Payroll Professional (CPP), for example. Or, you could earn the Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC), which is designed for payroll beginners and teaches core payroll concepts.
While these certificate programs aren’t tailored to healthcare, employers, regardless of industry, often factor in relevant designations when making hiring decisions for payroll jobs.
5. Consider temporary healthcare payroll jobs
One way to get your foot in the door if you lack payroll experience or certifications is to work with a recruiting firm that can connect you with temporary healthcare payroll assignments.
The more experience you gain through these placements, the greater your chance of securing a full-time job — perhaps even with one of the companies you work for in an interim capacity.
Interested in temporary payroll jobs? See this post for tips on how to prepare for this path.
6. Lay the groundwork for future advancement
Once you’re hired for a healthcare payroll job, don’t wait long to start investing in your future career growth. For example, look for a mentor who can be a valuable source of payroll career advice. These experienced guides can help you navigate everything from fitting in with the organizational culture to feeling more confident in your job responsibilities.
If your employer doesn’t offer formal mentoring, you can still learn from others and progress in your career. Payroll clerks, for example, may enhance their interpersonal and leadership skills by observing their payroll and HR colleagues, especially those who hold more senior positions.
You can build a rewarding career over time by working in healthcare payroll jobs. It’s not uncommon for larger healthcare establishments to have multiple levels for a single payroll title — such as Payroll Administrator I, Payroll Administrator II, and Payroll Administrator III. So, make sure that you’re ready when an opening for advancement comes your way.