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How to become a Payroll Administrator 

Published: Friday 26th February 2021

Working as a Payroll Administrator, also known as a payroll clerk, in the UK involves making sure employees get paid correctly and on time. You will be dealing with large sums of money on a daily basis, and working towards strict payment deadlines to make sure everyone gets exactly the right amount, at the right time. 

But despite the challenges of the profession, the job of a payroll administrator is an important one because you’ll make sure people get their salary on time. So, if you enjoy dealing with numbers, find out more about how to pursue this career path in our guide… 

What does a Payroll Administrator do

Payroll administrators create, store and maintain employee payroll records which entail things like their attendance or timesheets, as well as the hours they work and the pay grade they’re on. Mainly working on a computer, you will keep records up-to-date to make sure all employees are paid the correct amount on time.

Female payroll administrator In Office Doing Accounting Work

Typical duties for a payroll administrator include:

  • calculating hours staff members have worked
  • deducting tax, national insurance and pension payments
  • calculating statutory payments, including maternity/paternity and sick pay
  • adding additional pay, such as overtime, bonuses or salary increases
  • processing payment documentation for new employees, leavers
  • issuing P45s

What qualification do you need to be a Payroll Administrator in the UK

Payroll administrators can follow this career from a variety of educational backgrounds or enter the profession without any set requirements. However, degree qualifications could be a huge advantage. Most employers will seek prospective payroll administrators with degrees in Mathematics/Accountancy, Business Studies/Management, Communication or Human Resources. While these subjects represent knowledge relevant to payroll administration, they are by no means a definitive list.

Ultimately, employers are looking for graduates with the ability to handle the challenges of payroll effectively. That’s why not all employers require candidates to have previous experience in payroll or bookkeeping. Other ways of becoming a payroll clerk could be by attending introductory courses. For instance, these could include courses in bookkeeping and payroll with The International Association of Book-keepers (IAB) or The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT).

While building your skills and experience on the job you could train towards specialist accounting and payroll software, which will be useful for other jobs related to finance administration.

In addition, you could also opt to study for qualifications in order to progress with your career development. Such certificates include the Certificate in payroll administration (AAT), the National payroll certificate (IPP) and the certificate and diploma in payroll or computerised payroll (IAB).

Cropped image of male accountant working with papers

Skills required

Important skills for those aspiring to enter this kind of job are organisation and the ability to work to strict deadlines. It’s also necessary to have good numeracy and ICT skills. Other qualities and skills that employers often look out for in payroll administration include:

  • excellent verbal and written communication
  • problem-solving abilities 
  • working with numbers
  • attention to detail
  • effective and successful development of plans 
  • time management
  • reliability and understanding
  • research and data analysis 
  • excellent IT skills

Salaries and career development

Payroll is not a static career, and there is a clear path of progression that you can follow. This career path starts from entry-level payroll assistant roles with a salary of around £25,000, to supervisory and managerial positions and could reach up to payroll director jobs. Working as a payroll director, you could earn a salary of up to £80,000.

If you are looking for payroll administrator jobs in the UK, visit Zoek and search from thousands of fresh vacancies across all levels. For more information on job hunting and career development, check out our Info Hub. 

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