Job Description

Payroll Specialist Job Description

If you’re looking for a payroll specialist job, view open positions and apply today.

What is a payroll specialist?

A payroll specialist’s main responsibility is to process payroll for a company. However, the payroll specialist role also includes additional accounting tasks like paying taxes, managing employee payment preferences, and maintaining a yearly roster of employees and their earnings.

A payroll specialist job description for a smaller company may include some human resources duties as well, like overseeing employee benefits.

Education requirements for this role can vary, but most ask for (at least) an associate degree in accounting or a related field. Most companies expect a few years of experience in the industry as well.

How is this position monitored?

In large companies, the payroll specialist often reports to a payroll director. In smaller companies, the payroll specialist may report to an owner or an operations manager.

Performance goals for a payroll specialist include the accurate execution of an on-time payroll, coordination with human resources, and effective communication with employees and supervisors.

How much does a payroll specialist make?

A payroll specialist salary hovers around $47,300 per year. While the average salary for payroll specialists is about $27 per hour, there is a potential to earn up to $32 per hour or $66,000 per year.

Payroll specialist job duties & responsibilities

A payroll specialist processes payroll for all company employees, which comes with a variety of duties and responsibilities, including:

  • Collecting payroll preferences and documentation from employees
  • Adjusting compensation to account for taxes, commissions, and company benefits
  • Utilizing a company payroll system that provides easy tracking for recordkeeping purposes
  • Handling employee questions
  • Monitoring and reconciling accounts
  • Preparing reports for managers or tax audits
  • Introducing new employees to the payroll process

Valuable skills

A payroll specialist job description will also include a list of valuable skills, like:

  • Strong aptitude for finances
  • Ability to calculate tax deductions, garnished wages, and commissions
  • Suggest ways to update or improve the current payroll system
  • Clear communication skills to work with everyone from paid interns to owners
  • Strong organizational and record keeping skills

Payroll specialist Qualifications

Qualifications for a payroll specialist may include:

  • 2- or 4-year degree in accounting or business
  • 2-4 years of experience in a similar position
  • Strong understanding of tax laws and how it applies to compensation
  • Proficiency in payroll systems like Quickbooks or ADP Workforce Now

Payroll specialist interview questions

If you plan to hire a payroll specialist or are applying for a job as one, here’s a list of interview questions to help you prepare:

  1. What’s your previous payroll experience?
  2. What payroll systems are you familiar with?
  3. If hired, what are the first three things you’ll do?
  4. If a new employee comes into your office and says their check is short, how will you handle the situation?
  5. How will you go about auditing our current payroll system and suggest improvements?
  6. How do you stay up-to-date with ever-changing tax regulations?
  7. If an employee inquires about the wages of another employee, how would you respond?
  8. What’s your experience coordinating with a human resources manager?

What does it take to be a payroll specialist?

Wondering how to become a payroll specialist? If you know this is your career path while in college, you should choose an accounting or business degree. Ideally, you’ll supplement your course load with classes that complement the job, like classes in human resources.

Once you receive your degree, you may consider obtaining a certification through an organization like the American Payroll Association or the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers.

To apply for your first job, look for an entry-level payroll clerk position and then move up to payroll specialist within a few years.

Similar Positions

Similar positions to a payroll specialist include:

  • Payroll clerk
  • Payroll coordinator
  • Payroll manager

Career Advancement

    At some companies, the payroll department is made up of one person. If that’s the case, advancement likely means transferring to a larger company. Positions to aspire to beyond payroll specialist include:

    • Payroll analyst
    • Payroll supervisor
    • Payroll director

Partner with us for your payroll specialist job search.

Let's find the right job for you and keep your career moving in the right direction. And it’s all completely free. View open positions to get started.

The right job

If you’re looking for a temp or permanent payroll specialist job, we’ll find the one that’s fits you.

Career coaching

We’ll spend the time to make sure you’re prepared at every step of your search and look out for your future.

It's all about you

Our number one concern is your happiness and growth. We work for you, not the other way around.