Why consider a career in payroll?

To work in payroll, individuals need passion, enthusiasm and an aptitude to learn.

We are proud to have so many fantastic members who are so passionate about payroll and setting such a high standard for the profession.

From one payroll professional, to you

Nobody ever stood in class at school and uttered the words, “When I grow up, I want to be a payroller”, 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 since.

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 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.

Software developers

Payroll roles are not restricted to payroll departments consistent of administrators, team leaders and managers. There is also a high demand for individuals who are very technical and analytical in nature and have app and coding skills.

Software developers are involved behind the scenes of payroll and work on the programs that assist in delivering the payroll service that are used within payroll departments. They need to be able to implement ever-changing complex new legislative requirements into systems and ensure that they work effectively and produce the right outputs.

These individuals need to be aware and keep abreast of any developments in the world of payroll and need to have the ability to comprehend intricate jargon and guidance and to ensure that it is put into practice.

Payroll career case study - Amy Kelsey

Amy Kelsey - case study.jpg

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship in payroll?
I chose an apprenticeship in payroll as it was something completely different and previously to securing my apprenticeship I was working as a nursery nurse. However, I was on a zero-hour contract, and as much as I loved working with young people, I knew that I wanted something with a bit more security. I wanted to develop into a career that I felt I could develop further as an individual. 

What is it that you enjoy about working in payroll?
The thing I love most about working in payroll is getting satisfaction when meeting deadlines and doing my job accurately every day to the best of my ability. I enjoy working within my team when a query comes up and working together to solve it, I love working in a team and feel like this had developed my confidence and self – esteem along the way. I like to think that I am an organised and hardworking individual and working within payroll, I feel you have to be organised and hard working to push yourself to meet deadlines but do this in an organised manner and know how to prioritise your workload. 

Were you always interested in a career in payroll?
Growing up I never really knew exactly what I wanted to do. It wasn't until the opportunity came up that I gave it a thought; however, it was the best decision I ever made. The opportunity arose, and after reading the job description and skills required, I really thought it was something for me. I was interested in trying something different and something new and knowing how much scope and opportunities working within payroll would give me; I saw this as a great opportunity and something I couldn't turn down. I was intrigued to find out more about working in payroll, and I was really interested in learning all aspects of the job.  

Was securing an apprenticeship a difficult process?
Well, like any new job, it came with nerves and anticipation. I applied for the job through the Gentoo vacancies website and heard back through an email that I had been shortlisted and had been invited to attend an assessment centre. This was something I'd never experienced before, so I wasn't really sure what to expect, on the day of the assessment centre I was really nervous and thought I couldn't do it, but I pushed myself and did the best I could do. Little did I know, that my best was enough and I then heard back that I'd been selected for an interview, again I was a little nervous but having done the assessment centre I actually felt a little bit more at ease in my interview. I felt my interview went really well considering it was only the second job interview I had; I came out knowing there was nothing more I could have done as I was just myself and that's all I could have been. I received a phone call to be offered the job, and I was absolutely overwhelmed, I couldn't believe that I actually did it and that's where it all began. 

What are the top three benefits you have experienced, thanks to an apprenticeship?
The top three benefits of being able to do an apprenticeship for me would be, having the experience of actually working in a workplace environment. Having the opportunity to get the experience of working in the role itself is a great benefit as you can get an idea of what it's like and what it requires. Another benefit for me would be that I have gained a lot of confidence and developed my personal skills further since starting my apprenticeship. I feel like it has helped me develop as a person and I have been given opportunities to develop my career further and having people within my organisation believe in me and support me through the whole of my apprenticeship has defiantly contributed to this.

Finally, I feel like having the chance to do an apprenticeship has given me an insight into what I want to do in the future and what path I want to go down. Having the opportunity to work in payroll and develop my knowledge and skills further has made me want to go on to complete my CIPP in Payroll Professionals. I have been able to do this by completing my apprenticeship, so for me, the biggest benefit I've received thanks to an apprenticeship would be the opportunities it's given me to develop further. 

What are your ambitions for your payroll career?
I would like to complete my CIPP payroll Foundation Degree and then go on further to learn about the payroll processing side and seeing a pay run from start to finish. I would like to gain more knowledge on pensions around year-end and auto-enrolment. I feel like it would be a good opportunity to learn more on the whole of payroll and gain more confidence in other aspects of payroll. 

Can you see yourself studying further?
Yes, I can see myself going on to complete the advanced payroll diploma after completing my foundation. I feel like this would be a great opportunity to learn more about other aspects of payroll and put theory into practice. Once having done this, I feel I would be more confident to go on to do more of a payroll managers role.  

Where do I start with my payroll career?

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

The first thing you need to do

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. 

Payroll Technician Certificate
- Available classroom-based or online
Foundation Degree in Payroll Management - Blended learning
Foundation Degree in Pensions Administration and Management - Blended learning

Introduction to payroll
Introduction to income tax and NICs
Essential additions to payroll basics
Introduction to statutory payments
Payroll and HR legislation update

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 £90* a year, browse through the wide range of benefits you can receive here.