How to Become a

Payroll Manager

The complete career guide to be a Payroll Manager: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $56,170
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 8.3%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Dependable Daily Workload
    Career Attribute

A payroll manager ensures that the payroll department of a company runs smoothly, which includes timely processing of employees’ salaries, generating reports for senior management and complying with federal, state and local regulations.

Recommended Schools

What is a Payroll Manager?


Here is a look at the day to day duties to be followed by payroll managers:

  • Execute the processing of every employee’s payroll payments at a regular basis, whether bi-weekly or monthly, via the appropriate channels.
  • Make sure that payroll staff are updating records through evaluation and review of changes in aspects such as job titles, insurance coverage, exemptions, etc.
  • Update and complete documentation required by Human Resources and other departments, for approval by the senior management.
  • Monitor and review current payroll, tax and benefits processes to keep these in line with company best practices.
  • Keep up to date regarding company policies and procedures for interpretation and application alongside other payroll guidelines and employment regulations.

Day In The Life 

The payroll manager serves an important function at any organization and you can look forward to a busy schedule through the day. As a top-notch payroll manager, you learn to anticipate problems in advance and mitigate them for the organisation before they may arise. You will constantly be assessing systems in place at the office and how they could be improved.

You will be spending many hours working on processing and disbursing payroll in accordance with federal and state laws. You are also the person responsible for making sure that your team is performing at the optimal level through open communication and coordination with other departments.

Other aspects of the work that will require your attention long-term includes analysing existing payroll processes and keeping an eye out for potential upgrades in the work structure. To this end, you may also review tax and benefits procedures and find the speediest solutions for implementation. You are also directly involved in overseeing the processing of new hires, contractual employees, transfers, terminations and promotions.

Work Schedule

Payroll management is mostly office-based routine work that follows the standard 40 hours per week working schedule. It is a rare that a payroll manager needs to work overtime or during the weekends. The main task of Payroll Managers is to manage all payroll processing duties, coordinate payroll activities, and supervise payroll staff. which can be done within a flexible time frame each month. That is why different types of companies may have different systems for the payroll managers. Some payroll managers will work part-time with 15-25 hours a week and get their job done. In most cases, payroll management is integrated within the HR department without dedicated personnel. Accordingly, this job is a preferable choice for anyone looking for an easy going job that maintains life-work balance.

Projected Job Growth

There is no clear statistics determining the growth of demand for payroll managers in the market because the tasks related to payroll management is integrated within the HR departments. Hiring of dedicated of payroll officials is currently rare because of the availability of automated systems for the management of these tasks. Essentially, these programs still require human supervision, but this is usually done by HR agents. Gusto, OnPay, QuickBooks Payroll and Paychex are among the most popular payroll computer programs. In general, the payroll managers employment rate of employment is still closely tied to the health of the economy and number of companies and corporations working and growing.

Typical Employers

Payroll managers may be hired by any medium or large-sized company that need dedicated personnel to manage the payroll related work. Payroll managers can also work for companies that provide HR and payroll outsourcing services as Bank of America, PayUSA, SurePayroll, TalentKeepers and HR Unlimited. It is also very common to get dedicated payroll managers hired in governmental authorities and public universities that have large number of employees. They also need to manage legal issues related to the payment of the salaries including the submission of the required documents. Payroll managers can also work for tax preparation services companies that help individuals or companies calculate the correct amount of taxes and fulfill the taxation requirements.

Recommended Schools

How To Become a Payroll Manager

To get your foot in the door at a payroll position, you must possess an associate’s degree in a relevant field like business, finance, accounting, or human resources management. Coursework you should focus on includes compensation, dispute resolution, management principles, business ethics, organisational behaviour and leadership. In case you do not currently have the budget to complete a degree program, you can also sign up with community colleges that offer short-term payroll certificate programs including classes in taxation, computers, and accounting.

While pursuing your degree, increase your chances in this career path by capitalizing on a valued internship at the accounting or human resources department of a large organisation. This can count as entry-level work experience when looking for positions later on. Obtaining a well-known certification like Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) designation provided by the American Payroll Association (APA), is another great way to enhance your chance of bagging that role.

In terms of significant skills, employers look out for superior levels of communication, organisation, collaboration, management, attention to detail, problem solving and leadership. To be qualified to apply for a managerial role in the payroll department, aspiring candidates should work their way up from an entry-level position such as a payroll clerk or specialist. Once in a while, it may be possible to join a payroll department with experience as a manager or team leader from a different industry, but applicants are required to have some mastery of accounts and understanding of payroll legislation.

Payroll Manager Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Payroll Manager salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Payroll Manager's can make an average annual salary of $56,170, or $27 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $40,530 or $19 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #313 Nationally for All Careers

Highest Education Among Payroll Managers

  • 1.4%   Doctorate
  • 6.9%   Masters
  • 25.7%   Bachelors
  • 11.5%   Associates
  • 29.3%   College
  • 22.7%   High School
  • 2.6%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Payroll Manager job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 121,200 jobs for a total of 1,587,300 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 8.3% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #267 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Payroll Managers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Depository credit intermediation 124,100 800 1%
Offices of physicians 66,500 14,900 15%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 60,500 3,400 3%

Want To Be a Payroll Manager? Get Started!

Generate your free SmartPlan™ to identify colleges you like, and potential ways to save on a degree or certification program toward your career with courses, offers, and much more!

Enroll Now and Get Started

or Learn More →