Payroll is a vital function within a Finance team and allows you to be people focused as well as working with numbers. You can begin your career in Payroll by being a Payroll Assistant or a general Accounts Assistant who has an interest in the payroll side of the role. In some organisations you can gain the experience needed to progress into a more senior level finance role, whether that be a Senior Payroll Manager/Team Leader or taking more of a HR focus within the role.

What Makes a good Payroll Clerk?

A Payroll Clerk is accountable for collecting timekeeping information, incorporating a variety of deductions into a periodic payroll, and issuing pay and pay-related information to employees.

Being an effective communicator is key to becoming successful within Payroll, as it is their responsibility to communicate with employees, HR and finance.

A good Payroll Clerk will be highly organised and able to work quickly, this is a very busy role and there will be a high volume of work to get through each day, varying dependant on the size of the organisation which will often be reflected in the size of the team.

Other Key Responsibilities of a Payroll Clerk:

  • Checking people's hours
  • Making the monthly payments on time
  • Working out tax and national insurance deductions
  • Setting up new members of staff
  • Calculating overtime
  • Issuing tax forms (P45s for example)
  • Managing special situations like maternity or sickness pay

If you're looking to boost your CV then the best qualification to have is the Institute of Payroll and Pensions Management (PPM) Foundation in Payroll Administration.

It can also help your chances of promotion to a supervisor level if you have:
- Association of Accounting Technician's (AAT) NVQ Level 2 in Payroll Administration
- International Association of Book-keepers (IAB) Certificates in Payroll or Computerised Payroll.

Even if you don't have a background in payroll, you shouldn't be put off switching career. Provided you have qualifications and skills in bookkeeping, accounts or managing a team, this will be useful experience and might mean you're able to start a bit higher up the food chain.

Most of your training will be on the job, getting to grips with payroll practices and laws, company systems and procedures.