A payroll administrator is a person who supervises the issuance of payroll and maintenance of payroll records. Payroll administrators can have varying qualifications depending on the size and nature of the business. In a small business, one accounting professional may handle all accounting needs including payroll, vendor payments, processing accounts receivable, and other issues. In larger businesses there may be a payroll department supervised by a qualified account with a team of clerks, and in medium-sized business, a single person acts as a payroll administrator and focuses solely on the payroll.
Some payroll administrators have a high school diploma and learn on the job. Others have taken training and certification programs to acquire some basic business administration skills. Many technical schools and community colleges offer coursework that prepares people for careers in payroll administration. More qualifications can mean higher pay at the start, but may not be required.
The payroll administrator collects and verifies timekeeping information and is responsible for issuing paychecks that are correct and complete. In the process of generating paychecks, payroll administrators must perform withholdings, including taxes, voluntary contributions to benefits programs, and wage garnishments. These withholdings are documented on each paycheck so that the employee can verify that they are correct.
Payroll administrators also keep records on old payroll information. This will be used to generate tax documents at the end of the year, as well as to provide references in the event that there is a dispute over a paycheck. Employees may not immediately notice problems like being paid at the wrong rate and it may be possible for an employee to dispute backpay that is several months old, making it critical to maintain well ordered records so that information can be quickly pulled and checked.
This job usually requires computer skills. Most payroll administrators use computer programs to generate paychecks and may need to work with accounting software to enter payroll information. It is also common to see workplaces using computerized timekeeping systems and the payroll administrator must be familiar with the timekeeping system and how it works.
Pay rates for people in these positions vary. The more experience or training someone has, the higher base pay may be. Working for big companies can provide access to benefits like health insurance and pension plans that may add value to the salary. A prospective payroll administrator may want to use salary reference sites to compare salaries being offered with the going rate in the industry and the area.