The Job of Payroll Clerks
The job of a payroll clerk is vital in almost every company because he or she makes sure employees are paid on time and that their paychecks are accurate. There are a number of different errors that the payroll clerk needs to watch for in order to be certain the checks are accurate.
Errors that payroll clerks commonly need to look for include inaccuracies in vacation time, incorrectly entered hours, and incorrect hourly wages. If there are problems in any of these areas, payroll clerks must do some research and make sure the problems are taken care of, hopefully before the paychecks are issued. The payroll clerk would also then take steps to prevent further problems in the future.
Payroll clerks must also be proficient at data entry, as they must enter employee hours and payment amounts into the payroll system. Thanks to computers, much of the work of payroll clerks has been automated; however, many payroll clerks still must manually enter the necessary information.
The main thing payroll clerks still must do, however, is distribute and collect timecards for each pay period and then review them to make sure they have all the essential information. Also, many payroll clerks record changes in address and give advice on deciding what employees should withhold on income taxes.
Payroll clerks usually work forty-hour workweeks, but they sometimes have to work longer hours and often face pressure to meet the deadlines of making sure the paychecks are ready on time. That said, being a payroll clerk is a steady, reliable job, which makes it a good choice for anyone looking for a stable career option.
Becoming a Payroll Clerk
Many employers offer certification programs through special classes designed to help their employees improve their payroll clerk skills. One organization that offers certification in the field is the American Payroll Association, which offers two levels of certification: Fundamental Payroll Certification and Certified Payroll Professional.
The first option offered by the American Payroll Association is the Fundamental Payroll Certification, which is a program that is available to any payroll clerks wishing to demonstrate that they possess basic skills and have proof of those skills. The second choice, the Certified Payroll Professional, is a higher level certification for those that have been working as payroll clerks for at least three years.
The common theme that both certification programs have is that the employee must first have experience and then pass the exam for the program. Other programs helping payroll clerks with advancement are very similar to the American Payroll Association’s standards. The main thing employers look for when hiring payroll clerks is that the employee be at least a high school graduate because of the rigors of the job as well as the math involved.