How to Become a Payroll Specialist


Payroll specialists review and analyze payroll reports to check for accuracies and discrepancies. They also compile financial, tax and payroll reports for tax purposes. Furthermore, they evaluate payroll data and deductions and serve as an intermediary between the company they work for and state and local agencies. Payroll specialists need to be well versed in IRS tax requirements, payroll accounting principles, computerized accounting and payroll tracking. Additionally, they should have an understanding of year-end payroll reporting and calculations of gross pay.

  • Obtain your high school diploma or GED. According to, this is usually required of payroll specialists.

  • Complete a two-year associates degree in accounting, business or finance. A degree in accounting is preferred, but some employers will consider those in business or finance.

  • Exhibit proficiency in Excel and and QuickBooks and various payroll and bookkeeping processes. You can learn how to use Excel and QuickBooks through online courses or in classes.

  • Illustrate at least one to five years of payroll experience. Many employers ask for previous experience, but some will provide on-the-job training programs.

Tips & Warnings

  • Payroll specialists are not required to be licensed, but certification from the American Payroll Association (APA) can help career prospects.

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