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Schools for Becoming a Payroll Clerk: How to Choose

Payroll clerks handle timesheet data and ensure that employee paychecks are posted and handled responsibly. Although not required to obtain a position as a payroll clerk, several colleges offer certificate programs to prepare individuals for entry-level careers in payroll management.

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Payroll clerks are an important part of any company and therefore must be properly trained for multiple environments. Before choosing a program, a prospective student must make some important decisions.

Schools with Payroll Certificate Programs

While many schools provide programs to prepare payroll clerks, below are some of the most reputable.

College/University Location Institution Type Tuition (2015-2016)
California State University - East Bay Hayward, CA 4-year, Public $1,825*
Cuyahoga Community College Cleveland, OH 2-year, Public $3,136*
Curry College Milton, MA 4-year, Private $895*
Lorain County Community College Elyria, OH 2-year, Public $2,122*
Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, GA 4-year, Public $1,299*
Shoreline Community College Shoreline, WA 2-year, Public $2,883*
San Jacinto Community College Pasadena, CA 2-year, Public $1,313*
Central Piedmont Community College Charlotte, NC 2-year, Public $2,664**
Florida State College - Jacksonville Jacksonville, FL 4-year, Public $2,830**

Source: *School websites, **NCES College Navigator

School Selection Criteria

Typical coursework covers bookkeeping principles, employment taxes and an introduction to accounting software. Considerations when choosing a school:

  • Students with aspirations to extend their education to an associate or bachelor's degree program might want to consider a certificate program that offers transferable college credits.
  • Although not generally required for employment, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that graduates of a certificate program or those with professional certification may find more favorable job opportunities.
  • Some schools offer the program partially or wholly online, which may work better for those on a fixed schedule.
  • Certificate programs for payroll clerks may range in duration from a single month to a year. Students should research how in-depth each program goes into the field before committing to a shorter program.

Overview of Certificate Programs for Payroll Clerks

Applicants to certificate programs usually need only a high school diploma or GED. Students learn keyboarding, computer and basic math skills. Lessons also expose students to employment tax laws, financial services and the use of specific office equipment. A few programs may include instruction on specific accounting and business software, such as QuickBooks. Some schools may also offer job placement services for graduates.

When deciding on a payroll clerk certificate program, interested individuals must consider location, time commitment, and future career goals. Most programs provide training on accounting, tax, and bookkeeping.

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