How to become a Payroll Administrator. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does a Payroll Administrator do?
As a payroll administrator or clerk, it would be your job to make sure that people are paid correctly and on time. You might work in a company’s finance department, or for a bureau that provides payroll services for other companies.
Your work would typically include:
- checking how many hours employees have worked
- calculating and issuing pay by cash, cheque or electronic transfer
- deducting tax and national insurance payments
- creating records for new staff
- processing holiday, sick and maternity pay and expenses
- calculating overtime, shift payments and pay increases
- issuing P45s and other tax forms
- working closely with personnel departments.
In some jobs you might also do general administrative work such as filing, photocopying and typing.
In a full-time job you would typically work standard office hours, Monday to Friday. Part-time and temporary work are both widely available.
You would be office-based and spend a lot of your time working at a computer.
How much does a Payroll Administrator earn?
Salary and pay information:
- Starting salaries are typically between £16,000 and £22,000 a year.
- This can rise to between £24,000 and £29,000, with experience and responsibility.
Figures are a guideline only.
You will find it helpful to have previous experience of book-keeping, accounts or other types of office work. Computer experience is also useful, particularly in using spreadsheets and databases.
You don’t always need specific qualifications, but you should feel comfortable with maths. However, you may have an advantage with a qualification in book-keeping or basic accounting, and some employers may prefer you to have some GCSEs (A-C) including maths.
You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more about Apprenticeships, visit the Apprenticeships website.
Training and Development
You will usually develop your skills on the job whilst helping experienced staff with routine clerical and computer work. Your training may include the use of specialist payroll and accounting software such as Sage or Pegasus.
You may have the opportunity to study for qualifications whilst you are working, such as:
- Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) Certificate in Payroll Administration
- Institute of Payroll Professionals (IPP) National Payroll Certificates
- International Association of Book-keepers (IAB) Certificate and Diploma in Payroll or Computerised Payroll.
See the AAT, IAB and IPP websites for more information about the qualifications and where to study.
With greater experience and responsibility, you could take more advanced qualifications from IPP, including:
- IPP Foundation Degree in Payroll Management (which includes the Practitioner Certificate in Payroll in year one, the Advanced Practitioner Certificate in year two, and the Diploma in Payroll Management in year three)
- IPP Advanced Diploma in Applied Payroll Management, including BA Hons degree.
You should continue to develop your skills and keep up to date with payroll law throughout your career. The IPP offers a range of short courses to help you achieve this – see website for details.
Skills and Knowledge
- confidence in working with numbers
- good IT skills
- good spoken and written communication skills
- a high level of accuracy and attention to detail
- the ability to work well as part of a team
- good organisational and time management skills, for meeting strict deadlines
- respect for confidential information.
You could work for all kinds of larger companies or public sector organisations like local authorities or the NHS. Alternatively, you might be employed by a payroll bureau.
With experience, you could progress to payroll supervisor or manager.
Jobs may be advertised in the local press, in Jobcentre Plus and by recruitment agencies.