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Purdue University Global

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Capella University

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Payroll Assistant Jobs: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become a payroll assistant. Learn about education requirements, salary and career outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

What Is a Payroll Assistant?

A payroll assistant works in the payroll department of a company or organization to ensure that employees are paid accurately and on time. Their duties may include tracking employees' time by reviewing time sheets, computing deductions, and entering data into computers. They may also process paperwork for new employees. Little formal training or education is necessary to become a payroll assistant. Find out more about this field in the table below.

Education Required High school diploma or equivalent
Key Skills Math, attention to detail, organization, communication
Certification Certification is optional
Job Growth (2018-2028) -3% (for all payroll and timekeeping clerks)*
Median Salary (2018) $45,050 (for all payroll and timekeeping clerks)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Do as a Payroll Assistant?

Payroll assistants, also known as payroll clerks and payroll technicians, perform several office-related duties such as filing, typing and coding. Their primary function is to record and review employee time and payroll information. As a payroll assistant, you would be expected to track an employee's hours and commission earned, then prepare paychecks accordingly. You are responsible for verifying an employee's attendance and pay adjustments, as well as recording any exemptions, leave time, transfers or resignations.

What are the Job Outlook and Salary Expectations for a Payroll Assistant?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), payroll and timekeeping clerks were expected to see a 3% decline in employment opportunities from 2018-2028. Job openings were projected to be limited due to the use of automated payroll and computer software that allows employees to track their own hours. The BLS reported that payroll and timekeeping clerks earned a median annual salary of $45,050 in May 2018.

There is potential for payroll clerks to move up as payroll administrators or payroll supervisors. According to the American Payroll Association, these positions require 3-5 years of payroll experience and may require an associate's degree or equivalent training, and a Certified Program Planner (CPP) designation is preferred.

What Kind of Education, Skills and Experience Do I Need?

According to O*Net Online, 39% of payroll clerks had a high school diploma or equivalent, 21% completed some college but no degree, and 17% had an associate's degree. As reflected in job listings on CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com, employers will want you to have anywhere from 1-3 years experience on the job.

The skills needed vary depending on the company, but most require you to be proficient in Microsoft Excel and Word programs. Some companies may administer a math proficiency test, as you must be very competent with numbers. You must have excellent written and verbal skills and the ability to manage your time wisely.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Those interested in becoming payroll assistants may also wish to research a few related careers which also require only a high school diploma. For example, bill and account collectors try to collect payments on overdue bills from debtors. Secretaries and administrative assistants work in a variety of organizations to support other staff by filing, scheduling, and preparing documents. Bank tellers perform tasks at a bank, such as cashing checks, collecting loan payments, and depositing money.