With National Payroll Week upon us Sept. 4-8, we have good news for anyone interested in payroll clerk jobs or working your way up to payroll manager: According to Robert Half's latest Salary Guide for Finance and Accounting, companies are bumping up compensation, frequently offering salaries above market rates.
What's more, payroll is such an important role that it's in demand in most locations.
“National Payroll Week celebrates the unique partnership between payroll professionals across the country and the employees they pay," says Mark Coindreau of the American Payroll Association, which founded NPW in 1996. "Through payroll withholding, they collect and contribute 67 percent of the annual revenue of the U.S. Treasury, money that funds critical government programs. Truly, America works because we’re working for America.”
Here are the essential facts you should know about payroll manager and payroll clerk jobs, including salary, duties and skills.
Salary benchmarks for payroll jobs
According to the 2018 Salary Guide, the salary midpoint for a payroll manager/supervisor is $71,000 in 2018; payroll coordinators/administrators can expect $44,750 at midpoint, and payroll clerks, $37,750.
Payroll manager is listed as one of the hot positions and the CPP (certified payroll professional) one of the in-demand certifications.
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.
Learn more about the duties and job descriptions of various payroll roles — and look for a job.
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, no matter what workplace you choose.
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 the 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 2014 and has been updated recently to reflect new Salary Guide data.