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How to Become a Payroll Administrator

Payroll administrators are responsible for the upkeep and management of a company’s payroll.

They calculate wages and ensure that employees’ salaries get paid correctly and on schedule.

Payroll is an essential part of any business.

The success of a payroll department is built on, and reflected in, the capabilities of its staff.

But succeeding as a payroll administrator, and forging a career in this area, involves more than just delivering pay and deducting taxes.

Some of the typical duties of a payroll administrator include:

  • Calculating hours staff members have worked
  • Calculating and deducting tax, national insurance, and pension payments
  • Adding any statutory payments necessary, including maternity/paternity and sick pay
  • Incorporating additional pay, such as overtime, bonuses, or salary increases
  • Processing payment documentation for new starters/leavers
  • Issuing pay slips to employees
  • Addressing problems and answering queries
  • Conducting bank reconciliation

Besides that, they also help in human resource management system training.

If you’re thinking about becoming a payroll administrator, understanding how to approach the field is an important first step on your journey.

Which is why in this article, we are going to look at what you need to kick start a professional career in payroll administration.

Professional skills needed to become a payroll administrator


how to become a payroll administrator - have a diverse skill set

To begin with, there are some professional skills and traits that you need to develop as you make the step to becoming a payroll administrator.

1. Excellent verbal and written communication skills


In any professional environment, being able to communicate with others is a must.

While payroll administration largely entails working with numbers, having excellent verbal and written skills in the workplace is just as important.

It allows for clear and precise communication whether via email, or through a memo sent to the office.

You may also find yourself in the position where you need to explain a calculation to a colleague, and being able to speak in a manner that is clear and concise will help you get your points across much more effectively.

2. In-depth understanding of human resources, labor rules and regulations

You can’t process payroll without abiding by a range of compliance procedures, including tax regulations and legal requirements.

To avoid heavy penalties, payroll administrators need to have knowledge of these rules and regulations for payroll within their region – many of which are updated regularly – hence the need to remain afloat with such developments.


3. Attention to detail and strong numeracy skills

It goes without saying that being a payroll administrator requires excellent numerical skills.

Having sharp attention to detail and great accuracy is vital for success.

Crunching down the numbers on a daily basis is a thoroughly involving process, and even the tiniest error can lead to a negative domino effect that may have significant consequences.

4. Working knowledge of payroll software

In this highly digital age, technology is central to modern payroll processing.

Extensive working knowledge of industry software specifically designed for processing payrolls, such as Sage, Xero and QuickBooks will help you organize employee information, expedite payroll processes and perform your duties more effectively.

5. Strong organizational and time management skills

Payroll administrators also require exceptional time management skills.

You will need to work under strict deadlines to ensure wages are processed on time.

Being good at managing your time enables you to enhance your performance and increase your productivity and work quality.

6. Problem-solving skills

This simply means having the ability to solve complex problems quickly and efficiently.

It also refers to recognizing areas in your systems that could be improved and coming up with effective solutions to resolve ongoing issues.

7. Digital skills

Payroll has become a digital discipline, incorporating a spectrum of innovative technology.

Digital tax accounts now integrate with PAYE systems to open up a range of novel options.

The day-to-day operations of payroll processing have also been transformed, as most tasks now integrate numerous software platforms, including office staples such as the Microsoft or Google toolkits, and specialized payroll processing software, like Sage 50, Xero and QuickBooks.

Prospective administrators should prepare themselves for a digital workplace, and the new skills they may need to develop to adapt and succeed within it.


8. Discretion

A big part of the payroll administration process involves dealing with private, sensitive and classified information.

Therefore, you must show discretion and exercise confidentiality when handling the data that you’re processing.

9. Calmness

Staying calm under pressure reduces the likelihood of making mistakes.

You must be able to remain cool, calm and collected while on clock to process payrolls whilst still maintaining high performance standards.

Educational background required for payroll administration work


On the other hand, a good payroll administrator will have a strong educational background.

how to become a payroll administrator - strong educational background

Most employers will seek prospective payroll administrators with a solid education background in:

  • Mathematics/accountancy
  • Business studies/management
  • Information technology
  • Communication
  • Human resources

While these fields represent knowledge relevant to payroll administration, they are by no means an exhaustive list.

Ultimately, employers are looking for graduates with the capability to handle the challenges of payroll effectively; characteristics that can be developed in a wide range of educational fields.

Training and accreditation suited to payroll administration roles


While educational qualifications are a crucial factor in a recruiter’s decision, prospective administrators can boost their chances of success by gaining industry-accredited payroll training.

We have internationally-recognized institutions that offer training courses for individuals and business groups, such as the Kenya School of Monetary Studies.

how to become a payroll administrator - get necessary training and accreditations

There are professional accreditations that are designed for established professionals, and those that prospective administrators can train in entry-level skills.

Some of the courses one can take include but are not limited to certificates in payroll, accounting, and bookkeeping, just to mention a few.


Ultimately, payroll is a multi-faceted and constantly evolving field.

As a payroll administrator, you should cultivate a mixture of skills to distinguish you as an asset to organizations.

These can come through experience or taking on professional courses and seizing any opportunities that emerge across the payroll landscape.


On the off chance that you’re a company seeking such services from a team of professionals already equipped to handle the demands of payroll, then check out our payroll administration consultancy page, as it offers the information you need to get started with outsourcing your payroll management to us.

Get started today!