Payroll Administrator

The Job and What's Involved

If you're good with numbers and would like an important role in an office, this job could suit you.

As a payroll administrator or clerk, it would be your job to make sure that people are paid correctly and on time. You might work in a company's finance department, or for a bureau that provides payroll services for other companies.

In this job you'll need good general office skills, such as IT skills. Your organisational and time management skills will be very important and you'll also need to pay close attention to detail and work accurately.

Your work would typically include:

  • Checking how many hours employees have worked.
  • Calculating and issuing pay by cash, cheque or electronic transfer.
  • Deducting tax and national insurance payments.
  • Creating records for new staff.
  • Processing holiday, sick and maternity pay and expenses.
  • Calculating overtime, shift payments and pay increases.
  • Issuing P45s and other tax forms.
  • Working closely with personnel departments.

In some jobs you might also do general administrative work such as filing, photocopying and typing.

In a full-time job you would typically work standard office hours, Monday to Friday. Part-time and temporary work are both widely available.

You would be office-based and spend a lot of your time working at a computer.

Starting salaries are typically between £13,000 and £18,000 a year. This can rise to between £20,000 and £25,000, with experience and increased responsibility.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are around 50,000 people in the UK who work wholly in payroll and a further 50,000 where payroll is part of their job. Payroll staff are employed by organisations in every industry sector, including:

- Local Government
- Finance
- Retail
- Manufacturing
- The NHS

Some payroll staff work for payroll bureaux. These are organisations that undertake payroll services on behalf of employers that do not have their own payroll departments.

Vacancies may be advertised in local newspapers, and by Connexions centres, Jobcentre Plus offices and recruitment agencies. Many vacancies are also advertised on recruitment websites.

Education and Training

You will find it helpful to have previous experience of book-keeping, accounts or other types of office work. Computer experience is also useful, particularly in using spreadsheets and databases.

You don't always need specific qualifications, but you should feel comfortable with maths. However, you may have an advantage with a qualification in book-keeping or basic accounting, and some employers may prefer you to have some GCSE's (A-C) including maths.

You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more about Apprenticeships, visit the Apprenticeships website.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

You will usually develop your skills on the job whilst helping experienced staff with routine clerical and computer work. Your training may include the use of specialist payroll and accounting software such as Sage or Pegasus.

You may have the opportunity to study for qualifications whilst you are working, such as:

  • Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) Certificate in Payroll Administration.
  • International Association of Book-keepers (IAB) Certificate and Diploma in Payroll or Computerised Payroll.

See the AAT and IAB websites for more information about the qualifications and where to study.

With greater experience and responsibility, you could take more advanced qualifications from IPP, including:

  • IPP Foundation Degree in Payroll Management (which includes the Practitioner Certificate in Payroll in year one, the Advanced Practitioner Certificate in year two, and the Diploma in Payroll Management in year three).
  • IPP Advanced Diploma in Applied Payroll Management, including BA Hons degree.

You should continue to develop your skills and keep up to date with payroll law throughout your career.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A payroll administrator needs:

  • Confidence in working with numbers.
  • Good IT skills.
  • Good spoken and written communication skills.
  • A high level of accuracy and attention to detail.
  • The ability to work well as part of a team.
  • Good organisational and time management. skills, for meeting strict deadlines.
  • Honesty.
  • Respect for confidential information.

Your Long Term Prospects

You could work for large companies or public sector organisations like local authorities or the NHS.

Alternatively, you might be employed by a payroll bureau.

With experience, you could progress to payroll supervisor or manager.

Get Further Information

Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT),
140 Aldersgate Street, London EC1A 4HY
Tel: 0845 863 0800

Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP),
Shelly House, Farmhouse Way, Monkspath,
Solihull B90 4EH
Tel: 0121 712 1000

International Association of Book-keepers (IAB),
40 Churchill Square, Kings Hill,
West Malling, Kent ME19 4YU
Tel: 01732 897750

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