Payroll Clerk: Career Information & Requirements

Apr 15, 2019

As long as companies have a paid staff of employees, they will need someone to make sure they are compensated in an accurate and timely fashion. The payroll clerk keeps track of an entire staff's payment, time off, tax information and retirement contributions. Read further to learn more details about this occupation.

Career Definition of a Payroll Clerk

A payroll clerk performs duties to ensure that employees of a business are paid accurately and in a timely fashion. The payroll clerk also keeps track of each employee's sick days, vacation time and personal days away from the job. Companies also rely on their payroll clerk to archive paperwork for each employee, as well as their tax information, contributions to retirement and gross earnings. Most of the time, data is manually entered into spreadsheets and tracked digitally for easy reporting and analysis.

Educational Requirements High school diploma or equivalent; additional training courses available
Job Skills Strong organizational skills, good computer proficiency, and excellent communication and interpersonal skills
Median Salary (2018)* $45,050 (all payroll and timekeeping clerks)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* -1% (all payroll and timekeeping clerks)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

The majority of employers expect their payroll clerks to have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. Much of a payroll clerk's education occurs through on-the-job training and experience. Most companies have internal training and classes for new clerks that include timekeeping, payroll organization, resolving personnel issues and thorough coverage of company practices and policies. There are also secondary schools and community colleges that offer training courses for prospective payroll clerks.

Skills Required

A successful payroll clerk will have superior organizational, accounting and computer skills. Companies also seek out candidates with excellent communication and interpersonal skills, as they must be able to correspond with tact, respectfulness and discretion.

Career and Economic Outlook

Companies of all sizes require payroll clerks to make sure their employees' needs are well taken care of. However, the more computers and technology play a role in accounting and archiving, the more employment growth may be limited. Many companies are implementing automated systems to take care of timekeeping and payroll needs in an attempt to streamline their operations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for payroll and timekeeping clerks will decline by 1% over 2016-2026. The median salary for workers in this profession was $45,050 in May 2018.

Alternate Career Options

Individuals interested in the work involved in being a payroll clerk may also consider:

Medical Records and Health Information Technician

Techs may earn a postsecondary certificate or an associate's degree in health information technology, and many employers also look for professional certifications, for these professionals who code and maintain patient information for insurances, databases and patient medical histories. A faster than average employment growth of 13% was anticipated by the BLS, from 2016-2026, and an annual median salary of $40,350 was reported in 2018.

Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerk

These clerks usually need a high school diploma and learn most of their skills, for updating financial statements, checking records and recording transactions, while on the job. A decline in job growth of 1% was expected during the 2016-2026 decade, according to the BLS, due to technological change that has resulted in less demand for workers. In 2018, bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks took home median earnings of $40,240 per year, the BLS reported.

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