A payroll clerk or payroll technician oversees the practicalities of a business or organization’s payment process, ensuring that employees receive the correct amount in their paychecks and that they’re delivered in a timely fashion.
Payroll clerks are also responsible for catching and correcting any errors that occur in the issuing of employee wages. They may also perform other clerical duties, screen timecards for mistakes, compute pay by applying the correct deductions, and prepare earnings and tax-withholding statements.
A payroll clerk is an entry-level position in most offices, so little if any higher education is required beyond a high school diploma or its equivalent. Still, specialized training and relevant experience can make a job candidate more attractive to employers.
Employers generally require payroll clerks to have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Training is usually provided on-the-job to familiarize a new payroll clerk with the procedures and methods of a business or organization.
An associate degree in business, accounting, bookkeeping, or similar subject can be helpful for aspiring payroll clerks, as can specialized training programs through trade schools. Strong computer skills are a must.
As payroll clerks routinely apply relevant tax deductions to the computation of employee pay, it is vital that they stay current on such information. Certification in this area is also a plus for employers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that payroll and timekeeping clerks made median annual wages of $34,810 in 2008.
The U.S. Department of Labor expects that employment of payroll clerks will continue to decline slowly; the use of computer programs and automated systems means that employees themselves can increasingly handle some of the record-keeping duties that payroll clerks once performed.
Those with specialized training and certification should see the best opportunities as they can handle more complex and varied payroll duties.
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics