Payroll Supervisor/Manager

The Job and What's Involved

Payroll supervisors and managers work as a team to administer their organisation's payroll. They make sure that every member of staff is paid the correct amount of pay on the right date, taking into account payments and deductions such as tax, National Insurance, sick pay, maternity pay and pensions.

A payroll supervisor may:

  • Supervise the work of a payroll team.
  • Train new staff.
  • Allocate and monitor tasks to make sure they are completed accurately and on time.
  • Liaise with human resources departments to monitor new staff, staff leaving or retiring, and current pay rates.
  • Make sure everyone understands and follows the organisation's policies, procedures and legal requirements.
  • Set up and maintain staff records.
  • Update payroll software.
  • Answer queries.
  • Liaise with organisations such as HM Revenue and Customs.
  • Produce statistics.

A payroll manager may:

  • Manage the work of a number of payroll teams.
  • Give advice on legal requirements covering pay, working hours, deductions and benefits.
  • Help to create payroll policies and procedures.
  • Develop contingency and business recovery plans in the event of a disaster, e.g. corruption of data on the computer.
  • Influence business strategy.
  • Make sure that computer software is efficient and up to date.
  • Make sure that all payroll staff receive the right training.

Payroll staff usually work standard office hours, Monday to Friday. They may work overtime at busy times, such as the end of the financial year. Part-time, flexible and job-sharing opportunities may be available.

The work is office based and staff spend most of the day sitting at a desk using computers, calculators and the telephone. More senior staff may also travel to meetings.

Starting salaries for payroll supervisors range from £21,000 to £26,000 a year. Payroll managers may earn over £40,000.

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

Qualifications that may be useful preparation for entry into payroll work include:

  • GCSE's in business and applied business.
  • Diploma in business, administration and finance.
  • A levels in accounting and in business studies.
  • BTEC Level 2 and 3 Certificates and Diplomas in business.
  • BTEC Level 4 Higher National Certificate (HNC) and Level 5 Higher National Diploma (HND) in business.
  • City & Guilds (C&G) Level 1 and 2 Awards in book-keeping and accounts.
  • C&G Level 3 Award in accounting and book-keeping.
  • C&G Level 1, 2, and 3 Awards in business finance.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Payroll staff may be trained by experienced colleagues or by attending training courses. Training is likely to include how to use specialist payroll and accounting software.

There is a range of qualifications for payroll staff. Courses are offered by many local colleges and private training providers and through distance learning.

Qualifications include:

  • Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) Level 2 and 3 Certificate in Payroll Administration.
  • International Association of Book-Keepers (IAB) Level 1 and 2 Certificate in Payroll.
  • IAB Level 3 Diploma in Payroll.
  • IAB Level 2 Certificate and Level 3 Diploma in Computerised Payroll.
  • IAB Level 3 Certificate in Bookkeeping.
  • The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers Level 3 Diploma in Payroll Management.

Payroll apprentices work towards the AAT Level 2 Certificate in Payroll Administration, while Advanced Apprenticeships lead to the Level 3 Certificate.

The Institute of Payroll Professionals (IPP) offers a set of three one-day National Payroll Certificate courses. It also offers a foundation degree in payroll management accredited by the University of Worcester. The course takes three years and incorporates the IPP Practitioner Certificate in Payroll, Advanced Practitioner Certificate in Payroll and Diploma in Payroll Management.

IPP also offers the one-year part-time Advanced Diploma in Applied Payroll Management at the University of Derby. A further eight months' study can lead to an honours degree in payroll management. An MSc in business and payroll management is available through distance learning over three years.

Payroll Alliance offers four BTEC/Edexcel accredited qualifications:

  • Level 4 Professional Award in Payroll Administration.
  • Level 4 Certificate in Payroll Practice.
  • Level 4 Diploma in Payroll Supervision.
  • Level 5 Advanced Professional Diploma in Payroll Management.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A payroll supervisor or manager should:

  • Have good numerical and computer skills.
  • Be organised, accurate and methodical.
  • Have good communication skills.
  • Be attentive to detail.
  • Be able to work under pressure and meet deadlines.
  • Work well in a team.
  • Be discreet when handling confidential information.
  • Have leadership and management skills
  • Be able to understand and interpret complex information.

Your Long Term Prospects

Senior payroll staff can use their skills to transfer to other areas of work in accounting and finance, and human resources.

Get Further Information

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

The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers
Tel: 0845 060 2345

International Association of Book-Keepers (IAB),
Suite 30, 40 Churchill Square, Kings Hill,
West Malling, Kent ME19 4YU
Tel: 0844 330 3527

Local Government Careers

Payroll Alliance,
2 Addiscombe Road,
Croydon CR9 5AF
Tel: 020 8401 1828/9

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