What are the Different Payroll Clerk Jobs?

Licia Morrow

There are many categories of payroll clerk jobs available, all requiring computer skills, business acumen, and a strict adherence to confidentiality. An individual looking to enter the accounting field many find an entry level job as a payroll clerk or assistant and work his way up to a management or supervisory position. Others, who may have either an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in accounting or business may find a position as a payroll administrator, manager, or senior practitioner.

A payroll clerk computes employee hours and wages, and issues paychecks.
A payroll clerk computes employee hours and wages, and issues paychecks.

A payroll clerk assistant is one of the entry-level payroll clerk jobs for individuals interested in computing and maintaining data records that correspond to compensation, company profits, taxes, and expenses. At this level, a payroll clerk may compute employee hours and wages, tax withholding, social security payments, and issue paychecks. In a company that maintains employee records and hours through computer systems, the payroll clerk may be responsible for checking the accuracy of the data, including employee vacation and sick leave, before processing payroll payments. This job position usually requires only a high school diploma as many employers offer on-the-job training, but excellent math skills are necessary. An ideal candidate will have office experience of some kind.

Funds are often dispersed to the employees in the form of a payroll check.
Funds are often dispersed to the employees in the form of a payroll check.

A payroll accountant or analyst is a more complex job than the entry-level payroll clerk. This job requires that the employee conduct queries, counsel the payroll department on complex transactions, spearhead internal audits, and organize and present material to outside auditors. A candidate for this type of job will generally have a bachelor's degree in accounting and at least two years of experience in this field. Employers looking to fill these type of payroll clerk jobs will usually prefer a Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC).

On the information technology side, larger departments may have payroll employees who focus on data entry. These individuals are usually called data processors or entry operators. Generally, knowledge of payroll is not necessary for these payroll clerk jobs, but data entry experience of some kind is required.

In an organization with more than three employees in the accounting department, payroll jobs may be assigned as different levels of accounting practitioners or payroll clerks. Entry-level practitioners usually follow the standard procedures of maintaining and issuing payroll and records, while a senior practitioner usually handles more complex tasks, and trains entry-level and intermediate accounting employees within the department. Often, the payroll clerk jobs in a very large business will be categorized by specialty. For example, some clerks only handle specific areas of payroll, such as annual bonus programs or sales commissions.

As companies grow and expand, payroll clerks must maintain the records associated with larger departments, benefits, and employee hiring. While the routine parts of this type of job are repetitive, as a payroll clerk works and expands his skills and practice, he can often find many opportunities to grow with a company. Someone dedicated to this field may be able to earn a payroll management position.

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