Are payroll classes worth the time and financial investment? Can they really help you grow as a payroll professional and advance in your career? The short answer is yes.
The investment you make in taking payroll classes — and earning relevant certifications — can help you stay marketable in a fast-moving field. To further underscore the value of pursuing continuous learning in the payroll profession, consider the following five benefits of taking payroll classes:
1. You can broaden your skill set and business acumen
As a payroll clerk, you learn to master payroll calculations, making deductions and refunds, auditing the payroll register, and preparing reports. But to qualify for a position with more responsibility, you also need to understand compliance and operational issues, oversee payroll policies and procedures, submit quarterly payroll taxes, and be prepared to supervise a team.
You may also need to understand the more complex points of multistate and international payroll, and handling payroll for remote employees, contractors and freelancers. In addition, in many companies, the lines between payroll, human resources and basic accounting functions are much less distinct than they have been traditionally. So, you’ll need to have at least a general understanding of these areas.
Through payroll classes, you can learn about the issues listed above, expand your business knowledge and gain a more diverse set of skills.
Working in temporary payroll jobs can also help you grow your business acumen by exposing you to different organizations and projects. Learn more about this path in this post.
2. You can keep your knowledge current
Companies need their payroll staff to stay up to date with constantly changing tax laws, payroll procedures and reporting requirements so that the business can stay in compliance. Also, year-end procedures often shift, and a smooth close depends on having the latest information.
Payroll pros also should be well-versed in the latest advances in payroll technology, such as business process automation. Whether you’re learning the basics of payroll administration or how to work with data analytics, continuing education courses can help you keep doing your job well today — and aid in future-proofing your career as well.
3. You can earn — and maintain — in-demand certifications
Payroll is one of the few well-paying professional fields where a four-year college degree is often not a requirement. But to show hiring managers that you have the basic know-how to do the job, you may want to consider earning the Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC).
You don’t need previous payroll experience to work toward the FPC credential. However, the more advanced Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) certification has more prerequisites. For example, payroll professionals seeking this credential need to have at least three years of relevant payroll experience gained within the five years preceding the date of the examination application.
Both levels of certification are offered by the American Payroll Association (APA), and details about FPC and CPP requirements are available on the APA website. You can retain your FPC (after three years) or CPP certification (after five years) through continuing education or successful re-examination.
4. You can demonstrate your commitment to your profession
Studying for payroll classes and attaining and maintaining an in-demand certification takes time and money. And it can be challenging to juggle classes and work, even if you’re doing both remotely. However, consider what this commitment to learning says about you, as a professional.
When your boss or the hiring managers you encounter learn how much you value continuing education in payroll, they will recognize that you’re serious about excelling in the profession and committed to payroll best practices. And your dedication to the field can help increase your chances of being considered for roles with expanded responsibilities and promotions within your organization.
Are you aiming for a payroll management job? See this post to learn about the six skills that employers typically look for in candidates aspiring to work at this level.
5. You can earn more money and respect
The return on your investment in payroll classes can include earning a higher salary. When considering what payroll professional salary to offer a potential hire, most employers will closely examine a candidate’s experience, skills and education — including knowledge and credentials earned in the field.
The combination of practical experience and specialist knowledge that you can bring to an organization can help you stand out as a top payroll candidate. And many employers are willing to pay more to secure in-demand accounting and finance expertise that is critical to running their business optimally.
Whatever stage you are at in your payroll career, upskilling through payroll classes can help you stay marketable and improve your earning potential. To find out what types of salaries employers are offering to payroll clerks, coordinators or supervisors, download the latest Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance Professionals. You can also use our Salary Calculator to determine starting pay ranges for payroll positions in your local market.