Becoming a Payroll Clerk

Payroll clerks are responsible for making sure businesses pay employees on time and accurately. They collect and organize records such as time sheets which are usually entered into a computer for processing. Controlling of all aspects of payroll that relate to yearly salaries and hourly wages, sick days, vacation and overtime pay fit into the duties of a payroll clerk.

You will find payroll clerks in practically every field. As well as managing time sheets and payroll distribution, they may have other responsibilities that include:

  • light bookkeeping
  • faxing documents
  • answering telephones and
  • greeting visitors

When it concerns a company's payroll, they also help to ensure the correct amount of withholding tax is deducted. Many also handle paycheck direct deposit to each employee's bank account.

Generally, the skills required to work as a payroll clerk include typing proficiency and the ability to pay attention to detail. It also helps to have a good understanding of computers and math. Apart from being motivated, professional and organized, the ideal candidate should be able to either work closely as a team member or alone. A few other areas of expertise may include strong customer service talent and the capability to meet close deadlines.

Payroll clerks usually do not require having any type of formal education besides a high school diploma. Some companies may desire that the candidate have prior office or clerical experience before hiring them. As this is considered an entry-level position, most businesses provide on-the-job training. The primary prerequisite for this position is a positive attitude and a sound work ethic.

It is possible for a payroll clerk to increase their industry knowledge and advance their career by becoming certified. Advanced training is available through industry-wide professional organizations. By taking a written proficiency examination the payroll clerk can receive official recognition as a Certified Payroll Professional.

The expected median salary, according to the 2012 BLS, of a payroll clerk is over $38,000. However, this figure can fluctuate depending on the size of the company, number of hours worked and location. Some clerks are hired as temporary employees during the busy season or work for smaller firms. As a payroll clerk gains experience in the industry they can expect an increase in pay. This is especially the case for workers that have five or more years invested in managing payrolls.

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