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How to Become a Payroll Processor

The job market is growing once again, which means payroll processing will be in high demand. As the job title suggests, these workers are responsible for processing the payroll for the entire company. In some cases, they may have other responsibilities as well. While some experience is preferred, you can find entry-level payroll jobs to kickstart a career as a payroll processor.

Pursuing payroll jobs can lead you to a rewarding career with plenty of room for growth. You will get to interact with many different people and even assist them in solving problems. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, read on to learn how to become a payroll processor.


What Does a Payroll Processor Do?


In short, a payroll processor is someone who processes payroll for employees at a specific organization. They do this by validating the hours and attendance of each employee before putting the numbers in to be processed by payroll. This includes identifying any discrepancies in information or documentation needed to successfully complete processing.

What a payroll processor does is part clerical, part payroll. These individuals are also often in charge of editing payroll sheets and tracking bonuses for reporting purposes. Other common tasks include balancing wage reports, processing ACH authorizations, and providing general payroll assistance.


How to Become a Certified Payroll Professional (CPP)


Becoming a certified payroll professional (CPP) can help you pursue a career in payroll. Obtaining certification in payroll can create new, exciting opportunities for you. Once you have had some experience as a payroll processor or in another entry-level payroll job, you can check to see if you are eligible to take a CPP exam through the American Payroll Association. However, there are a few things you need to do before you move forward with taking the test.


CPP Exam

First, you have to check your eligibility with the APA. After you have verified that you meet the requirements to take the test, you must apply to take the test. To be approved, three of the last five years of your work has to be in the payroll field. The more experience you have, the fewer courses you will have to take before the exam.

Generally, the APA takes 10 to 15 days to process CPP exam applications. Once you have been approved to take the exam, you can schedule your test via the APA website or hotline at 800-470-8757.

Fees associated with the CPP exam vary, depending on your association with the APA. Those who are not members of the APA will pay $550. Regular recertification is needed to maintain your credentials as a payroll professional as well.


How Much Does a Payroll Processor Make?


When you look at a payroll processor job description, the average pay lands around $20.33 per hour or $42,280 per year. That figure will vary, depending on where you are located and who the employer is. The payroll field is expected to grow 5% by 2028, creating more than 72,000 jobs in the United States. If that sounds attractive to you, continue reading to learn more about the skills needed to become a payroll processor or specialist.


Payroll Specialist Skills


To be successful in your role as a payroll processor, you need a number of different technical and soft skills. Payroll processors should have excellent communication and math skills. They should also be well organized.

Beyond that, having your CPP is preferred by most employers, but not required in every situation. Many payroll processor applicants have Bachelor’s or Associate’s degrees in accounting, finance, management, or other related fields. It is not absolutely necessary though. You can pursue a career in payroll with a GED as long as you have other basic skills.

Because you will be working with payroll technology, you will need to have some computer and math skills. It is also recommended that you have some kind of payroll processing experience, whether through a course or work history. Given the tasks and regular duties described above, you’ll also need to have knowledge of the following software and skills.


Knowledge of QuickBooks

Most payroll jobs will require you to have prior knowledge of QuickBooks. Many companies use this software to keep track of financial information, reporting, and compliance. When you are constructing your resume, be sure to mention any knowledge of QuickBooks or similar systems. If you don’t already have QuickBooks experience, take a few online courses to familiarize yourself with the program.

Other programs companies frequently use include Kronos, Dayforce, Paychex, NetSuite, and Oracle. This will vary from employer to employer. Usually, you can find the kind of systems the employer uses in the job description.


Knowledge of MS Office Suite

Microsoft Office Suite is another program that you need to know well before pursuing a job as a payroll processor or any clerical position. You will likely have to share documents with other staff members, create spreadsheets and powerpoints, and communicate with others using tools from MS Office Suite. It isn’t a bad idea to be familiar with Google Suite and other comparable programs either.


Strong Verbal and Written Communication

Payroll processors have to communicate well. At times, you may have to reach out for clarification or request urgent details. You may also have to communicate with vendors and other services at some point to verify purchases. Being able to write emails and make phone calls to take care of payroll matters is a key part of the job.

Payroll specialists also need to have good problem-solving skills. When employees approach you with a payroll issue, you should be able to communicate about the problem and provide a solution in a timely manner. Throughout this process, everything needs to be documented and handled professionally.

You will also need to how to use internal communication systems like Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and Slack. This will differ from office to office, but top-notch communication skills are needed to perform well, no matter where you end up working.


Advancement Opportunities in Payroll


After a few years on the job as a payroll professional, you may be wondering where your career might lead you. There are a number of opportunities for advancement after you start working as a payroll processor. As you gain more experience, you will be able to gain more senior payroll titles. Generally speaking, climbing the ladder in the payroll field means taking on a more independent or managerial role. Here is how a career in payroll typically advances.


Payroll Clerk

Most people start out as a payroll clerk. The average salary for a payroll clerk is around $39,000. As a payroll clerk, you are responsible for things like collecting timesheets, issuing statements, preparing paychecks, and most other tasks associated with payroll. Working in this position helps you get acquainted with base level payroll services. After working a few years as a clerk, you will be ready to advance to the next level: administrator and coordinator.


Payroll Administrator/Coordinator

At times, payroll clerks may serve as backup for administrators and coordinators. Administrators and coordinators have an estimated annual salary of $46,000. Administrators generally issue paychecks, manage direct deposits, garnishments, and withholding information. Payroll coordinators have a more broad job description that emcompasses all payroll tasks. Coordinators verify employee data and ensure employees are receiving the correct payment.


Payroll Manager

More senior payroll personnel can earn the title of payroll manager. Managers net the most out of all the payroll professionals at an average annual salary of $72,250. These individuals oversee all of the payroll processing for the company. They are responsible for accurately calculating wages, taxes, and company deductions. Managers are also responsible for making sure all of the payroll practices are meeting federal, state, and local compliance. Some reporting is usually required in this position as well.


Find a Payroll Processor Job in Lancaster, PA with TriStarr Today


Working with an administrative staffing agency in PA is a great way to find jobs in the payroll field. Oftentimes, companies partner with agencies like TriStarr to find the perfect fit for their company. Employers trust staffing professionals to find the best payroll professionals available. Once your resume is on file, you can be connected to a plethora of opportunities. Not to mention, recruiters can put you on the right track to getting certified and making the most of your payroll career.

Anyone looking for payroll processing jobs in Lancaster, PA, and surrounding areas should work with the TriStarr, a leading administrative staffing company. Our recruiters will get to know your skills, experience, and employment goals to help find a role that is the best fit for you. Best of all, we partner with some of the best employers in the area so you are connecting with the most reputable companies around. Contact us to get in touch with an administrative recruiter in Lancaster and find your next payroll processing job.

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