Payroll as a career

Is payroll a good career?

Nobody ever stood in class at school and uttered the words, “When I grow up, I want to be in payroll”, and many payroll professionals will candidly confess that they just fell into their role. But what they certainly won’t say is that they regret their move into the profession and that their career has ever been dull.

A career in payroll may not sound all that exciting from the outside, but it is so much more than how others perceive it, it does not consist of just pushing a button. Payrollers are some of the most conscientious individuals and feel a sense of duty and obligation to do the right thing and ensure people are paid accurately and on time. Payroll teams are often the most united of groups as they have to pull together to ensure people get paid correctly, which is not always as straight forward as it sounds.

Payroll career paths

Payroll is not a static career, and there is a clear path of progression that can be followed, with multiple academic accreditations to be secured, including a Foundation Degree and even a Masters. The career path starts from entry-level payroll assistant roles, progresses to supervisory and managerial positions and reaches up to the upper echelons of payroll director, a job which can command a salary up to £78,000.

Many other departments rely on information from the payroll team, and they are the beating heart within any organisation. If the service of a payroll department is weak, it is not uncommon for people to leave their jobs. Equally, if the payroll department performs well, it may encourage staff to stay in their roles, so they are an essential part of any business. No matter what happens, people will need to be paid for the work that they carry out. Hence payroll is a very safe profession to work within, which is a massive relief, particularly in contemporary society, where there is a lot of ambiguity and uncertainty in the world of work.

Payroll practitioners are frequently referred to throughout businesses as perfectionists. This is a fair assessment of people working within the profession, as they have a deeper financial awareness than most. They appreciate that the people they pay have financial commitments and that the payroll team has a duty to ensure that workers’ pay is right, the first time. Individuals working within payroll departments are very careful to avoid making errors as it does not just impact them, it has direct consequences for the individuals they are providing a service to, and those consequences can be substantial.

The knowledge that a payroll professional builds up can be invaluable in everyday life, and you may find that distant family relatives or friends approach you outside of your work to ask for your assistance in analysing their pay and ensuring it is correct. Again, this goes to show how important payrollers are and how being educated in the world of payroll is an important and desirable trait.

So you have chosen the payroll career journey, what next?

The most important thing to do in payroll is to keep your knowledge up to date.

The CIPP offers a wide range of products and services to help you climb the payroll progression ladder, transforming you from a payroll administrator to a payroll manager through industry-recognised qualifications, courses and guidance. 




Membership of the CIPP has been carefully designed to provide you with all the knowledge, development, recognition and support that individuals within the payroll profession will need. With prices starting at £99* a year, browse through the wide range of benefits you can receive here

For examples of the skills, knowledge, training and membership you may need at various levels of your payroll career, click here

Helpful resources

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Payroll career resources

Library of resources to help you along your payroll and pension career

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Payroll careers path chart

Take a look at the career path chart from JGA to see some possible routes you can take in payroll

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My payroll career interviews

Hear stories from passionate people who chose a rewarding career in payroll across a range of job roles

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Payroll careers quiz

Take our quick careers quiz for resource and support suggestions

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Payroll job roles and responsibilities

Information on some of the roles and responsibilities at various levels through a traditional payroll career