Payroll Technician Job Description
Workers everywhere want to receive accurate paychecks on time, and payroll technicians play a vital part in ensuring they do. As members of the human resources team, they act as assistants who do whatever is necessary to keep operations flowing. Payroll technicians generally work standard business hours in an office environment under the direction of a payroll supervisor. Major employers include large companies, educational institutions, healthcare systems, and firms that provide payroll services to multiple customers. The environment can be stressful when errors occur or deadlines near. With experience and education, technicians oftentimes move into higher payroll-related positions such as specialist, manager, or analyst.
Payroll Technician Duties and Responsibilities
Expectations for payroll technicians differ greatly by employer. Some limit the scope of the job to clerical responsibilities, while others want techs who can perform sophisticated payroll tasks. Our analysis of job postings reveals the following as core duties that tend to go along with the position:
Complete Clerical Tasks
Basic office duties typically fall to payroll technicians. Actions performed include filing, coding, posting, and typing. They keep a variety of records, such as the number of vacation days each employee uses, and are often called upon to run reports based on accumulated information.
Offices pay staff according to a schedule. Steps leading to the issue of payment must be done on time or the whole process suffers. For example, a tech may need to input the number of hours worked by employees during a pay period by a certain time on a specific day. Without this information in the system, calculations cannot be made.
Whether in physical or digital form, payroll involves various documents for both internal and governmental use. Techs make sure employees follow procedures and submit forms properly. They may contact someone who forgot to sign paperwork, instruct a worker on the proper way to note overtime, or double-check that every department has submitted time sheets. Payroll technicians also may be expected to monitor and submit required tax-related documents.
Resolve Payroll Discrepancies
When the payroll team discovers an error on a time sheet or has a question about what a department submitted, a technician is often appointed to look into the matter. This could entail, for instance, talking to an individual about a miscalculation or calling a departmental manager to verify the attendance record of someone on their team.
Deal with New Hires
New employees fill out stacks of paperwork. Payroll technicians assist the HR department in getting these documents filled out properly. Actions might include answering questions newcomers have about forms and checking that all material is on file.
Payroll Technician Skills and Qualifications
Master multitaskers do well as payroll technicians. As general helpers in the payroll department, they receive requests from various people and must be able to prioritize and see projects through to completion. Other critical factors to getting the job done include:
- Organization skills – managing large amounts of information requires orderly actions
- Teamwork – techs collaborate with other human resources workers to keep operations running smoothly
- Attention to detail – errors or things “slipping through the cracks” translate into potentially costly problems for employees and the company
- Mathematics – techs should be comfortable with numbers and able to do basic calculations
- Computer competency – word processing, data entry, and spreadsheet creation are common; some employers train techs to use specific payroll software
- Trustworthiness – employers demand honest workers who respect the need for confidentiality when dealing with personal and sensitive information
Payroll Technician Education and Training
While all payroll technicians possess a high school diploma, postsecondary educational requirements differ. Some hold a certificate in bookkeeping or payroll administration from a vocational institution. Others earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Hiring managers sometimes prefer certified payroll professionals (CPP), a distinction awarded through the American Payroll Association. Classes in general office skills can benefit all candidates since they provide a good foundation for learning the individual employer’s procedures and technology.
Payroll Technician Salary and Outlook
Payroll technicians earn a median annual salary of about $42,000, according to PayScale. Workers on the low end of the pay range make roughly $31,000; the highest paid earn more than $55,000. Full-time payroll techs usually receive medical and dental insurance as well as paid time off.
Though organizations will continue to require people to handle payroll in the years ahead, productivity-promoting technology continues to cut down on the number of workers hired. Thus, forecasting employment prospects for payroll technicians is difficult.
Learn more about what’s involved in a career as a payroll technician with the sources we’ve compiled below:
American Payroll Association – dedicated to “providing the education, skills, and resources necessary for payroll professionals to become successful,” this organization’s website is a must-see for aspiring payroll techs
Society for Human Resource Management – get the latest on industry trends and best practices through this well-known organization
The Employer’s Payroll Question and Answer Book – this publication offers a quick but comprehensive overview of factors that must be considered when handling payroll
The Big Book of HR – readers call this practical guide “a must-have desk manual”
Payroll Professionals – still have questions? Chances are one of the 50,000 members of this LinkedIn group has the answer
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