Become a Payroll Coordinator: Education and Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a payroll coordinator. Learn about the job description, and read the step-by-step process to start a career as a payroll coordinator.

Do I Want to Be a Payroll Coordinator?

Payroll coordinators oversee the work of payroll clerks and timekeepers. Coordinators verify employees' time worked, process payroll checks and correct any discrepancies. Training new clerks on payroll systems is another job duty. They often are responsible for multiple payroll accounts and serve as liaisons between payroll and other departments within an organization.

There are many employment opportunities available for payroll coordinators, including jobs at corporations, banks, medical offices and government entities. Most of these types of workers can find full-time work and might need to even put in overtime.

Job Requirements

Those interested in becoming a payroll coordinator need a high school diploma or its equivalent, as well as experience in payroll processing. Additionally, an associate's degree in accounting could be helpful. The following table shows common requirements to begin working as a payroll coordinator:

Common Requirements
Degree Level High school diploma is standard, though many employers prefer those with an associate's degree*
Degree Field Accounting or related field*
Certification Voluntary payroll certification is available**
Experience Two or more years of payroll processing experience*
Key Skills Interpersonal communication, time management, organizational, problem solving, mathematics, critical thinking****
Computer Skills Word processing, spreadsheet, accounting, timekeeping and human resources software***; experience with Kronos or PeopleSoft payroll systems*
Technical Skills 10-key calculator***
Additional requirements Knowledge of federal, state and local laws, garnishments, taxes and workers compensation issues***

Sources: *Job postings by employers (November 2012), **American Payroll Association, ***O*NET OnLine, ****U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Step 1: Attain an Education

An entry-level position in a payroll department requires a high school diploma. Classes in mathematics and computers will help teach the skills necessary for working in payroll. While not all employers require a payroll coordinator to have a degree, a sampling of open job openings from November 2012 revealed that employers might seek candidates with an associate's degree in accounting, bookkeeping or business.

Step 2: Gain Experience

Payroll coordinators, who are also known as payroll supervisors or payroll administrators, typically have two or more years of payroll experience. Payroll coordinators learn many of their skills on the job, most likely starting with an entry-level position as a payroll assistant or practitioner. In some cases, payroll coordinators may work as payroll systems coordinators, acting as departmental liaisons for all those involved in processing payroll, which includes the data and information technology departments.

Step 3: Consider Certification

The American Payroll Association offers two voluntary certifications for individuals who are working as payroll coordinators. The Fundamental Payroll Certification is for entry-level payroll workers, while the Certified Payroll Professional designation is designed for individuals with at least three years of payroll experience. Each credential requires candidates to pass an examination to verify understanding and knowledge of this occupation. An examination is also required for the annual certification renewal.

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