Free payroll clerk certification provided at no cost

Free payroll clerk certification provided at no cost

As the market continues to grow, so does the need for payroll clerks. Their salary will see a substantial increase in 2024. Specific salary is based on their job level, professional experience and responsibilities.

This article includes specific responsibilities, salary scenarios, and 6 steps to become a Certified Payroll Specialist. Read on to learn the details

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What is a certified payroll professional?

A certified payroll professional is a financial specialist who passes the CPP exam administered by the American Payroll Association (APA). After completing the exam, a certified payroll professional can receive accreditation and adhere to high-quality standards for conducting payroll processes. Accounting and human resources (HR) departments often hire certified payroll professionals to help companies develop and implement payroll processes, manage legal and tax regulations and handle other bookkeeping tasks.

What does a certified payroll professional do?

A certified payroll professional's duties may vary based on where they work and their role, but most people working in this position follow standardized protocols from the APA. Some common responsibilities of a certified payroll professional include:

•Collecting necessary documents to process employee payroll, including taxation information, banking instructions and payment schedules •Gathering wage information from employee time sheets

•Preparing and administering payments to staff members, including physical checks and direct deposits

•Monitoring money transfers from a company's accounts for wages and tax deductions

•Adhering to company policy, federal law and state regulations regarding payroll procedures

•Working with staff members and employees to handle payroll questions and concerns

•Managing a payroll team for an accounting or HR department and performing training as necessary

Six Steps to Become a Certified Payroll Professional

Here are some key steps you can follow to become a certified payroll professional through the APA:

  1. Meet the educational requirements

Before you can take the Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) exam, you must meet the APA's educational requirements. One of these is earning a high school diploma or general educational developmental (GED) certificate. It may also be helpful to earn an associate degree or bachelor's degree in accounting or finance to gain additional knowledge and experience.

  1. Get hands-on experience

The APA has several training options to choose from to become eligible to take the CPP exam:

Complete APA-issued training

Classes: Take and pass four classes through the APA, which are available in person or through a virtual learning platform, either at the same time or sequentially. The in-person courses take three days to complete, while the virtual courses take one month to complete.

Certificates: Complete the Foundations of Payroll Certificate Program and the Payroll Administration Certificate Program either in person or online. Each program takes approximately five days to complete.

Expedited process: Complete the Certified Payroll Professional Boot Camp, which takes four months to complete. Individuals who select this option can take the FPC exam after the course ends and retake the test for free if they don't pass.

  1. Apply for the exam

When you've completed the requirements based on the training path you choose, you can provide the application form to a current or previous employer. The employer can verify that you're eligible to take the exam. An APA associate typically sends a response within 10 business days of receiving an application. Upon receipt of the response, you have one year to complete the exam, which you can book through the APA portal.

  1. Study for the exam

Spend about three months preparing for the CPP exam to learn the covered concepts and financial calculations. The APA offers books, webinars, community events and study manuals with practice problems to solve. It may be helpful to view publications from the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to supplement these materials.

Here are the main topics to study for the exam:

Key components: This portion makes up nearly a quarter of the exam content and includes information about employee taxes, benefits and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Calculations: This portion covers how to calculate important figures for the payroll process, including paychecks, deductions and benefits. It comprises approximately 20% of the exam content.

Official obligations: This portion involves adhering to federal and state regulations, including when to pay individuals and how long a company can store an employee's financial information in its records system. It makes up about 16% of the exam content.

Administrative tasks: This portion covers how to manage payroll files on a company's computer system and develop procedures for maintaining and updating personnel files. It makes up about 12% of the exam content.

Management: This portion outlines how to follow payroll management best practices, respond to client requests and train staff members. It makes up about 10% of the exam content.

Accounting procedures: This portion includes relevant financial concepts, reporting instructions and how to keep accurate payroll proper records. It makes up approximately 9% of the exam content.

Auditing processes: This portion shows how to conduct audits, including outside company processes, internal procedures and IRS-related activities, to verify financial transactions. It makes up around 9% of the exam content.

  1. Take the CPP exam

When you take the CPP exam, the instructions indicate to bring two forms of official identification to the testing center. You may use a calculator during the exam, but you can't bring your phone to the testing center. The CPP exam takes four hours to complete and includes 190 multiple-choice questions, which you answer on a computerized system. The minimum passing score is 300 points, and you typically get your results when you complete the exam.

  1. Receive your certification

After passing the exam, you can order an official certification document by email or phone. It takes about four to six weeks to receive your printed certificate. The certification remains valid for five years, after which you can recertify by completing at least 120 hours of continuing education courses.

Certified payroll professional salary

A CPP may have a few different job titles throughout their career, depending on their job level, professional experience and responsibilities. Here's the average salary information for some mid-level and senior-level payroll positions:

Payroll specialist: $39,562 per year

Payroll clerk: $46,663 per year

Payroll administrator: $55,274 per year

Payroll analyst: $63,373 per year

Payroll manager: $72,408 per year