Payroll is an essential part of any company. Duties include making sure employees are paid correctly and on time, checking working hours, and calculating tax. If you’ve got strong maths and organisational skills, payroll offers a rewarding career path.

Whether you’re starting out or considering a career change, read on to learn more about a career in payroll.

What is payroll?

Every company needs to pay its workers. In most businesses, a payroll specialist will make sure that happens accurately every payday. It’s typically an office-based role, as part of either the accounting or human resources departments.

A career in payroll comes with great responsibility. Salary is often a company’s largest expense, so it’s critical that calculations are made correctly. You’ll do well if you have strong attention to detail and professionalism.

Benefits of working in payroll

Starting a career in payroll brings several benefits:

  • Payroll is a respected position within any business. You'll be extremely popular if you pay workers correctly and on time!
  • You have complete freedom to choose where you want to work – everybody needs to be paid, after all.
  • There are several career paths available, with a range of payroll courses and advancement opportunities.
  • You’ll learn lots of new skills in areas such as people management, IT and accounting.

No two payrolls are the same, making for a varied and challenging career.

To summarise, a good payroll specialist helps their company run smoothly. If you think a career in payroll sounds like a perfect fit for you, take a look at the skills you’ll need to get started.

What skills do I need to work in payroll?

Fundamentally, payroll deals with numbers, so you’ll need a solid foundation in maths. You’ll also be dealing with work hours, overtime, and different pay grades, so you must have superb attention to detail to spot any errors.

Modern payroll is mainly computer-based, using various pieces of software. As such, having strong computer skills will help you settle in quickly – especially if you’ve used programs like Microsoft Excel before.

Above all, it takes a particular type of personality to work in payroll. You’ll deal with important private information, so you’ll need to be reliable and trustworthy. Organisational and time management skills are also vital.

What are the day to day duties of payroll?

As a payroll specialist, you’ll have several duties:

  • You’ll need to keep track of how many hours employees have worked.
  • On payday, you’ll calculate and issue payments to employees.
  • You’ll also deal with any tax and national insurance due on wages.
  • You’ll keep tabs on any holidays, overtime, sick pay and pay rises that are due.
  • Periodically you’ll manage tax forms, such as P45 and P60s.
  • To pay employees, you’ll make electronic bank transfers and write cheques.

Combined, these duties make for a diverse and exciting career with many advancement opportunities.

What career paths are there in payroll?

As a beginner in payroll, you’ll start as a clerk or assistant while you learn the ins and outs of the job. You’ll then have the chance to work your way up the ladder as a supervisor and manager. You could end up leading the whole payroll team in larger companies.

Eventually, many experienced payroll specialists end up at the director level. This requires years of knowledge and practice but is extremely rewarding – a role as a payroll director could pay anything up to £60,000 per year!

So, how can you get started?

How do I get started in payroll?

How you’ll begin your career in payroll depends on your circumstances. There may be apprenticeship options available for school leavers to start their journey. Those already working in accounting may also be able to request a transfer to payroll within their company.

If, however, you are studying as an adult or making a career change, the best way to get started is to take a payroll course from a recognised body, such as the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB).

The ICB Level 3 Diploma in Payroll Management is an excellent course to kickstart your career in payroll. It takes an average of four months to complete and begins with payroll basics. It then covers crucial theoretical knowledge and teaches you how to use Sage – an essential piece of accounting software.

Start your career in payroll

Payroll is vital to every company across all industries and offers many exciting career opportunities. A payroll certification is an excellent foundation for your career in payroll, whether you are new to the industry or want to further your knowledge.

With an online payroll course, you’ll be able to study in your own time and get qualified quickly. Now is the time to begin your career in payroll. Take a look at our payroll courses or get in touch with our learning advisers today.