Payroll certificate programs are often offered through community colleges, vocational schools, and the continuing education or extension departments of 4-year universities. These programs are designed to provide students with a basic understanding of payroll systems, software and procedures. Students enrolled in certificate programs learn many valuable skills in the payroll processes of business, such as how to enter new hires into employee databases, monitor payroll time reporting, calculate payroll transactions, distribute wages, and handle employee benefit programs.
Many of these programs have basic prerequisites for students. They include having a high school diploma, basic computer knowledge, such as knowledge of keyboarding and processing.
Payroll Processing Professional Certificate
Students who enroll in a payroll processing professional certificate program may also be required to have completed previous coursework in basic payroll procedures. These certificate programs often focus on offering practical courses that provide students with the exact training and knowledge that they will need to gain an entry-level position after graduation. Courses can include:
- Overview of payroll systems
- Payroll system inquiry functions
- Payroll time reporting
- Updating employee databases
- Leave usage and leave accrual
- FICA tax workshop
- Hiring practices
- Workers' compensation and benefits policies
Employment Outlook and Career Info
Businesses, public schools and local government entities in the United States employed about 166,700 payroll and timekeeping clerks in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS expected the growth rate for financial clerks in general to increase by 6% from 2014-2024, which is about on par with the average for all occupations. In 2015, payroll professionals earned $20.26 per hour, on average.
Following graduation from a certificate program, payroll specialists often opt to gain certification from professional organizations such as the American Payroll Association. The association offers two levels of certification to qualified individuals: Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) and Certified Payroll Professional (CPP). Those applying for CPP certification must have previous work experience in payroll processing, while FPC certification is for individuals who are just entering the field. To earn certification in either category, individuals must pass a skills assessment examination, demonstrating proficiency in payroll processing systems and practices (www.americanpayroll.org).
In summary, payroll clerks can earn educational experience through advanced certificate programs and can also earn certification from professional organizations to help them advance in their careers.