How to Become a Payroll Accountant

If you love to play with numbers and make accurate calculations, a career as a payroll accountant might be for you. However, it’s important to know that this role is unique and requires special skills.

Business women using computer and calculator during note some data on notepad for calculate financial at home office

The first step to becoming a payroll accountant is to earn an accredited bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or a related field. Then, you can take on internships or work experience to gain real-world experience.

Education Requirements

Payroll accountants oversee employee records and the company’s payroll budget to ensure that employees receive their pay on time. They also handle tax issues, such as federal and state payroll taxes.

To become a payroll accountant, you typically need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or human resources (HR). However, entry-level positions may be available with an associate’s degree.

For a higher level of responsibility, you need to earn at least a master’s degree in business administration or finance. This degree requires a high level of proficiency in math and accounting, as well as a strong understanding of HR and payroll laws.

Payroll accountants also need to have good organizational skills, as they manage numerous records and accounts at once. They must be able to work quickly and efficiently, as well as maintain a positive attitude under pressure. They also need to be knowledgeable about payroll and tax laws, which is important for avoiding errors that can lead to problems with the IRS.

Experience Requirements

Payroll accountants track and process employee wages based on their compensation agreements, hours worked, and deductions and taxes. They also produce reports and analyze payroll data.

These professionals usually have a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or human resources. However, some organizations prefer candidates with a master’s or doctoral degree.

Office – documents, ring binders, laptop, pen and calculator

Experience requirements vary by position and employer, but most professional roles require at least two years of relevant work experience. Junior-level positions such as accounting clerk, bookkeeper, or payroll administrator may qualify you for a professional role.

Employers look formzdový úcetní with strong attention to detail, excellent mathematical and problem-solving skills, and the ability to handle complex data entry and manipulation tasks. In addition, they want payroll accountants who are able to remain calm under pressure and work well with others.

Skills Requirements

As a payroll accountant, you’ll need to have a solid understanding of accounting principles and the ability to work with financial data. You’ll also need to be able to use software programs that can help you input and maintain employee records.

You’ll need to be able to meet deadlines and make sure that workers receive their payments on time. You may also be responsible for preparing tax reports and filing payroll taxes.

Your skills will vary depending on the type of business you work for, but most employers prefer candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or another related field. You’ll need to demonstrate experience working with accounting systems and have a basic knowledge of Microsoft Office and Excel.

You’ll also need to be able communicate clearly and concisely, both with staff and upper management. You’ll be liaising with employees from all backgrounds, so your ability to understand different cultures and approaches to discussions around pay rates and entitlements will be important.

Certification Requirements

Payroll accountants prepare and verify payroll documents, calculate and deposit employee wages into designated bank accounts, and ensure all financial procedures are in compliance with government laws. These accounting specialists work in banking and financial institutions, state and local governments, and accounting firms.

Generally, payroll accountants have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Some employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree.

These professionals must have strong analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to manage large data sets. They also need math and computer proficiency.

Professionals must be able to communicate effectively with managers and employees. They also must be familiar with wage and hour law compliance regulations, federal and state payroll tax deductions, garnishments, benefits, and flexible spending account deductions.


Certifications include the Fundamental Payroll Certificate (FPC), Certified Professional Payroll Manager (CPPM), and Certified Payroll Specialist (CPS). Obtaining one of these credentials shows employers that you have a strong understanding of payroll processing and compliance issues.