Job Description for a Payroll Administrator


The payroll staff ensures employees get paid accurately and on time. Furthermore, it ensures the company complies with the payroll tax laws the government regulates. The payroll staff may include a payroll administrator, responsible for meeting these goals.

Payroll Processing

  • If the company is small, the payroll administrator is the sole payroll person. She may process one or more payrolls, such as multiple pay cycles (for example, weekly and biweekly). Payroll tasks include figuring employees' time cards/timesheets and coding and posting the data accordingly.

    She processes pay raises; pay adjustments from present and prior pay periods; involuntary deductions, such as taxes and wage garnishments; voluntary deductions, such as health and retirement benefits; direct deposits; and paycheck/pay stub printing. She prints payroll reports to verify the payroll before closing it.

    She files and maintains payroll reports to meet the government's requirements. The latter requires employers to keep payroll records for at least three years.

Outsourcing Duties

  • Some employers outsource their payroll to a payroll service provider. To ensure the latter processes the payroll appropriately, the employer may also hire an on-site payroll administrator. Along with payroll processing, the payroll company may handle the company's payroll taxes and benefits administration. In such instances, the payroll administrator serves as the go-between for the employer and the payroll company. She forwards employees' time to the payroll company and verifies the payroll once the latter has completed it.

    She may also work closely with the company's insurance carrier and retirement plan provider. For example, she sets up employee retirement accounts and forwards retirement funds to the plan provider each pay period. Furthermore, employees who want to make changes to their voluntary deductions go to her first. The payroll administrator in turn forwards the information to the appropriate company/department for processing.


  • If the payroll administrator is the sole payroll person, she usually reports to a central authority, such as the owner, or the head of a related department, such as accounting/finance. If the company is larger and has other payroll administrators, she may report to the lead payroll administrator, payroll supervisor or payroll manager.


  • According to the American Payroll Association, the payroll administrator position generally requires three to five years of payroll experience. Furthermore, an associate degree, related training (for example, accounting) or post-secondary education may be required. Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) certification is usually favored. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that certified payroll professionals with knowledge of difficult payroll transactions have an advantage in the employment market. The payroll administrator can obtain certification via the APA.


  • The average salary for a payroll administrator as of May 10, 2010, was $44,000, according to

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