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How Do I Become a Payroll Clerk?

Nicole Madison
Updated Feb 19, 2024
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Typically, you won’t need a college degree or extensive training to become a payroll clerk. Many companies are willing to hire and train an individual with a high school diploma, especially if he has good communication, organizational, and computer skills. Earning an associate’s degree or certificate in an accounting-related field may, however, make you a more attractive job candidate. If you are able to complete related training while you are still in high school, that may prove helpful as well. Once you have significant experience as a clerk, seeking certification as a payroll professional may improve your chances for advancement.

Education can be an important consideration when you want to become a payroll clerk. Typically, employers do not require applicants for this position to hold degrees, and high school or general educational development diplomas (GEDs) are sufficient. If you earn at least an associate’s degree in accounting or a similar field, however, you may have a better chance of competing for this type of job. Additionally, you may find that some vocational schools and community colleges offer certificate programs designed to prepare you for this type of work.

If you will not seek education after high school, you may have an opportunity to prepare for this job before you graduate. While not available everywhere, some high schools offer vocational programs that help you build skills necessary for working in accounting-related positions. Completing such a program may make you a more attractive job candidate.

A potential employer will likely consider a range of qualities and factors when deciding whether or not to hire you. An employer may be more likely to hire you if you are reliable and a good communicator. Most employers will also expect you to be detail oriented and capable of following instructions. In general, you will need good organizational skills, a commitment to keeping confidential information private, and the ability to multitask. Additionally, you will typically need good computer skills to become a payroll clerk and perform well in this job.

While some employers may prefer to hire those with previous experience, you can normally expect to receive on-the-job training when you become a payroll clerk. The company that hires you will likely provide training in company-specific policies and payroll procedures. You will learn about the company’s practices for time-keeping and various employee-related factors that may influence your job as a payroll clerk.

Depending on where you are located, you might have an opportunity to seek certification as a payroll professional. In most cases, you won't be able to seek this type of certification before you become a payroll clerk, as certification agencies often require at least a couple of years of experience. Once you have gained the required level of experience, however, certification may increase your chances of earning higher pay or qualifying for a promotion.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
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Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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