Program ResourcesWhat is a Payroll Specialist?

Payroll specialists process payroll and prepare tax information for an organization or business. They may conduct training related to using financial software and other support services. Payroll specialists work in almost every industry. The finance, insurance and health care industries employ the most payroll clerks and specialists. Typically, they work in offices as part of the human resources team or department. Payroll specialists work in small businesses and large corporations. In some cases, they work for freelance firms.

Both payroll specialists and clerks work with payroll data. This includes recording and verifying attendance, pay adjustments and benefit allocations. Some payroll specialists enter time and attendance into timekeeping and payroll software. They must have problem-solving skills in order to be able to fix issues that may arise with employees, managers and the payroll technology. Skills relating to math, communication and organization are all essential to success as a payroll specialist.

Career Growth

The job outlook for payroll specialists and financial clerks in general is good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment of financial clerks will grow 6 percent by 2024. However, it should be noted that some payroll specialist positions are being automated. The automation of many of their responsibilities via the use of computer software reduces demand.

Salary Potential

The median hourly wage for a payroll specialist is $18.16 an hour, according to PayScale. Payroll specialists may be eligible for bonuses and profit sharing, which makes their earning potential between $31,000 and $56,000 annually. Like many HR jobs, the salary of a payroll specialist depends on the size of the firm and department.

Education Required

Most payroll specialists begin their careers as payroll clerks, which requires a high school diploma. To become a payroll specialist, individuals need at least a bachelor’s degree. An online Bachelor of Arts in Human Resource Management, for example, is a perfect degree for professionals pursuing careers as payroll specialists. For those seeking leadership roles related to payroll and other employee-related services, an online Master of Arts in Human Resource Management is ideal for graduate study.

Employers look for credentials like the American Payroll Association’s Certified Payroll Professional. The Society for Human Resource Management certification lends credibility and authority as well.