Although you don't need post-secondary education to work in payroll in a business, more and more employers are looking for professionals to fill these positions with formal training and certification. Your have greater opportunities for employment when you have the credential of a certified payroll clerk to place on your resume. The coursework in a technical or vocational college for such a program will provide you with the skills you need to perform computerized accounting duties and fulfill an important duty of ensuring that all employees get paid on time and in the correct amounts.
There is more to working as a certified payroll clerk than just creating the par checks for the employees. In this position, you will be responsible for ensuring that the correct deductions are made from each person’s gross salary. All employees do not earn the same amount of money nor do they work the same number of hours. Therefore you must be meticulous in this duty to ensure that the payroll is accurate. Record keeping is an important part of this job. You will have to maintain records of each employee’s personal information and the types of deductions that have to be taken out. You will also need to prepare a statement or check stub for each employee providing the details of the deductions, such as health benefits, 401K deductions union dues and income tax.
A certified payroll clerk also has to complete and verify the documentation required for the administration of various benefits, such as medical leave, pension plans or share savings. In order to complete there income tax returns, employees need the statement of annual earnings and this will also be one of your duties added, which may mean you have to work overtime for a certain time of the year. Employees will also come to you when they have questions about their pay or their deductions, so you need to be knowledgeable about the types of deductions and the calculation process. When employees leave through termination or retirement, you will have to prepare the necessary documents and when new employees join the company, you will have to gather their information and enter it into the system.
There are several certification programs you can follow to become a certified payroll clerk administered by the American Payroll Association. Entry-level professionals can apply for Fundamental Payroll Certification. To pass the exam you will need to have knowledge of the basics of payroll, tax laws, how to perform the calculations for deductions, payroll processes and systems and the basic principles of accounting. There are no work experience requirements associated with obtaining this certificate.
After you have been working for a while as a payroll clerk and want further certification you can apply for the Certified Payroll Professional certificate. To be eligible for this certification, you must have worked in as a payroll clerk for three years out of the last five years immediately preceding your application. If you do not meet the work requirements and have been working at the job for at least eighteen months, you can take courses that will lead to certification. These courses are two and three-day courses that will help you gain the knowledge you need to pass the exam. By passing this exam and becoming a certified payroll clerk, you will demonstrate to employers that you have the skills and abilities to handle complex issues related to payroll.