Setting Yourself

up for Payroll Processing Success

Setting Yourself up for Payroll Processing SuccessAsk any employee the most important department in his or her company and you will likely receive a unanimous answer of "the payroll department!".  We all recognize the value of receiving timely and correct paychecks but most of us are unaware of the detail that goes into preparing payroll in accordance with company policy and state and federal laws.  Fortunately, there is a wealth of resources to equip employees to work in the payroll process.

Payroll courses for beginners are offered for employees working in many different payroll-adjacent positions including entry-level payroll positions, sales professionals working in the payroll industry, IT professionals in the payroll industry, and customer service representatives for payroll service providers.  

Professional continuing education companies (like Illumeo) offer a variety of payroll accounting courses for all skill levels, from beginner to advanced.  Typically there are introductory payroll accounting classes offered that provide an overview of the payroll cycle and are great for beginners to grasp all parts of the payroll cycle.  In addition to the payroll classes for beginners, there are higher-level courses that focus in more detail on one area of the payroll cycle, such as changes in payroll tax laws, updates to federal and state regulations for deductions, and how to handle fringe benefits for employees.  Classes are offered via a variety of methods, including live seminars, online on-demand webinars, and written book courses.  

In addition to payroll accounting courses there are certification programs available for employees interested in becoming certified within the payroll industry.  Certifications are great because they can increase an employee’s knowledge in a field as well as be carried forward to future career opportunities in the payroll industry.  For those wanting to start the certification process the best place to begin is with the Fundamental Payroll Certification.  

The American Payroll Association administers the Fundamental Payroll Certification program.  This certification is for entry-level payroll department employees and others needing a base knowledge of payroll for their non-payroll cycle position.  There are no eligibility requirements to take the Fundamental Payroll Certification exam. The exam is offered in two one-month windows each year and can be taken online at a local testing center.  There is a fee of $395 to take the exam and there is a recertification required every three years. The sections covered on the Fundamental Payroll Certification exam are as follows:

  • Core Payroll Concepts

  • Compliance/Research and Resources

  • Calculation of the Paycheck

  • Payroll Process and Supporting Systems and Administration

  • Payroll Administration and Management

  • Audits

  • Accounting

Preparation for the exam is heavily encouraged by the American Payroll Association and they offer several resources to aid in exam preparation.  For more information on the Fundamental Payroll Certification, the American Payroll Association offers a candidate handbook on their website.

It is easy to see that there are a vast array of resources available for those interested in payroll training, including payroll courses for beginners, introductory and higher-level payroll accounting courses as well as recognized certification programs such as the Fundamental Payroll Certification.