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Payroll Accountant Job Description

payroll accountant job description

Are you looking for a new career where you get to play with numbers all day?

Then working as a payroll accountant could be the perfect option. Payroll accountants are employed by most large organizations and play an important role.

In addition to handling payroll, this type of accountant also handles other types of financial processes. It is important to develop special skills to do this job, and some people may lack focus and dedication.

To discover if this is the right career step for you, check out my in-depth…

payroll accountant job description

Payroll Accountant Job Description

A typical job description should provide an overview of the types of work you are being hired to do. It should introduce the organization and explain the setting you would be required to work in, as well as cover the length and type of the contract as well as the base salary and benefits.

It should be clear from the job description the skills and qualifications you need to have to do the job. Including certain skills and attributes that the ideal candidate is likely to possess. This will make it easy for you to decide if you want to apply for that particular payroll accountant job.

Payroll Accountant Responsibilities

The duties that you are expected to perform as a payroll accountant will depend on the organization you work for. However, there are certain typical responsibilities that you are likely to be charged with. Here are some of the main responsibilities of a payroll accountant…

Work With Financial Statements

You will often be tasked with overseeing the organization’s financial statements. Read, interpret, process, and then submit these forms to the relevant department. It is essential to make sure that all these financial documents are complete and accurate.

Processing Staff Pay and Benefits

You will be responsible for processing and submitting all employee payments and benefits. It is essential to make sure that you follow the law and the organization’s guidelines at all times. Your work has to satisfy the requirements for the industry as well as the Internal Revenue Service and the specifications of the state and federal governments.

Presenting Reports

You will develop and present financial reports. To do this, you would analyze the organization’s finances and make suggestions on the best way forward. You will also have to create clear and detailed payroll reports for the organization’s managers to review.

Recommending Investment Opportunities

For many organizations, a large part of their revenue comes from investments. You may be required to explore the market for new investment opportunities. This can include analyzing the organization’s existing investment portfolio and making suggestions on which to continue with.

Skills And Abilities

To work as a payroll accountant, you will rely on your knowledge and hard skills. However, you also need to have certain soft skills to relate to your colleagues and remain focused. So, here are some of the key skills and abilities a successful payroll accountant should have…

Time Management

It is essential to issue paychecks to different employees on time. You need to be aware of when different employees are contracted to get paid. This involves keeping careful records and prioritizing this task above all others.


You need to have strong communication skills to make oral reports and explain issues to managers. Be able to communicate clearly in verbal and written form with colleagues, managers, and other employees. And listen to instructions carefully and decipher complicated written documents.

Critical Thinking

You need to be able to use critical thinking skills to analyze problems and come up with effective solutions. Approach problems from a logical standpoint and produce efficient solutions.

Organizational Skills

It is essential to be very organized to keep payroll documents safe and separate at all times. Regularly update and delete employee records when necessary. And provide the required documents and records to auditors when requested.

Important Payroll Accountant Knowledge

As a payroll accountant, you need to have specialist knowledge in many different fields. It is important to maintain this knowledge and keep it up to date. Here are some of the things you need to study and maintain knowledge of to remain relevant.


It should go without saying that you need to have a background in accounting to do this job. You will need to have a deep understanding of all accounting rules, principles, and guidelines. This includes keeping up to date with the payroll and tax best practices.


You need to have a good working knowledge of payroll software like Payroll Mate and BrightPay. Be able to use all features of Microsoft Office Suite, especially Excel. As well as identify and recommend updates to payroll accounting software, as well as systems and procedures.

Business Operations

You need to have a general understanding of how organizations operate. As well as be familiar with the specifics of the organization you are working for.


You need to have a general understanding of economics. This includes financial markets, the flow of goods and services, and banking.

The Law

You have to have a deep understanding of the laws, guidelines, and policies that govern the organization. Regularly research to update your knowledge. This will help to ensure compliance with federal, state, and wage, local payroll, and hour laws.

Payroll Accountant Education Requirements

You usually need to hold a Bachelor’s Degree in accounting or a related field to become a payroll accountant. Some employers prefer payroll accountants to hold a Master’s Degree and have other specialist training.


There is a wide range of certifications that you can earn to show your specialist skills as a payroll accountant. Both the Certified Management Accountant and the Certified Professional Accountant tests show that your training meets the industry standards.

Other useful certifications include the Certified Payroll Professional and the Fundamental Payroll Certification.

The Work Environment

Traditionally, payroll accountants work in the accounts department of a large company. This allows them to liaise with other members of the accounts team and resolve any issues easily. They usually work full-time traditional office hours.

However, in recent years there have been more and more opportunities for payroll accountants to work remotely. If you work for a small business, you might only work one or two days a week. In this case, you may be able to work part-time hours or take on more than one client if you prefer.

Looking To Advance Further In Finance?

Firstly, let’s begin with a few finance positions you could be interested in, such as my Payroll Clerk Job Description, Payroll Specialist Job Description, or what about my Staff Accountant Job Description and Senior Accountant Job Description.

We’ve researched a few financial roles such as a Financial Analyst and found the Financial Analyst’s Indispensable Pocket Guide, or the CFA Confidential: What It Really Takes to Become a Chartered Financial Analyst, and the Absolutely Legendary Financial Analyst, Financial Intelligence, and finally Success as a Financial Advisor For Dummies to help point you in the right direction.

Or maybe you’d like to improve your skills as a financial advisor? For that, we recommend you check out Succession Planning for Financial Advisors: Building, or The 10X Financial Advisor: Your Blueprint for Massive, as well as The New Financial Advisor, and The Financial Advisor’s Success Manual: How to, or my favorite The Million-Dollar Financial Advisor: Powerful Lessons all available online in 2023.

And lastly, the ever-popular Success as a Financial Advisor For Dummies, or how about The Ultimate Financial Advisor Marketing System, the Knock Out Networking for Financial Advisors and Other, or even the Prospecting Through Positioning For The Financial to excel in what you do!

Final Thoughts

While it can take time to become fully qualified, payroll accounts can enjoy a fairly high salary. The average starting salary for this role is around $54,000 per year. If you have specialist skills such as tax preparation, the annual salary can climb to at least $70,000 per year.

You can work as a freelance payroll accountant, but it takes extreme discipline. This would allow you to take on several clients, set your hours, and choose your working environment. While it can take a lot of time and effort to become established, the higher salary and flexibility could be worthwhile.

All the very best with your career as a Payroll Accountant!

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