Payroll Certification and Certificate Program Overviews

Payroll certification programs are inclusive, designed both for those looking for their first payroll job and those who have several years of payroll experience. A certificate isn't required to gain payroll employment, but it does boost job opportunities.

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Essential Information

Both 4-year universities and 2-year community colleges feature payroll certificate programs. Candidates can earn payroll certificates through either on-site or online coursework. Though it's not required, a payroll certificate improves one's employment outlook in this job field. Students can typically earn a payroll certificate in less than a year, after completing anywhere from 1-8 courses.

In addition to improving basic field skills such as timekeeping, calculating benefits and completing W-2 forms, certificate programs prepare students for the Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) and Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) exams, which are both administered by the American Payroll Association.

Certificate in Payroll Clerking

Classes in a payroll certification program are taught by payroll professionals with previous work experience in their field. As a result, students gain a practical understanding of their duties as a payroll employee. Programs frequently offer classes online, better accommodating those with full work schedules. Course topics include:

  • Fringe benefits
  • IRS compliance
  • Taxation
  • Payroll management
  • Workers' compensation
  • Year end reporting

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), payroll clerks (also known as payroll technicians) and timekeeping clerks held 172,800 jobs in May 2014. The employment outlook for financial clerks in general, including payroll and timekeeping clerks, is predicted to rise 6% (about as fast as average) over the 2014-2024 decade. In May of 2015, payroll and timekeeping clerks made a median salary of $41,000 a year.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates can go on to earn certification from the American Payroll Association, a nationally recognized organization. Those new to the payroll profession are eligible for Fundamental Payroll Certification, while those with some experience in payroll are eligible for Certified Payroll Professional certification. Certification improves job prospects.

A certificate in payroll clerking includes the study of topics like IRS compliance and compensation for workers. National certification is also a job-improving characteristic of the trade.

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