Start A Career in Payroll and Become A Payroll Administrator


Start A Career in Payroll and Become A Payroll Administrator

Payroll administrators work in collaboration with the HR and Finance departments within every organisation. A payroll officer's primary role ensures the timely payment of wages, salaries, superannuation and compensation to every employee. They ensure that all employees get paid the correct entitlements from their employer.

Starting a career in payroll and accelerating a career path in payroll administration has overlapped with other accounting and bookkeeping skills. In recent years, more organisations are now employing specialist payroll staff.

Let us take you through a step-by-step guide on how to start a career in payroll through to progressing your career ladder.

Table of Contents

The Basics of Payroll Services

The foremost task of a payroll job is to ensure the timely preparation of payroll records. Payroll services also keep an organisation compliant with state and federal regulations, maintain records for employees' wages, insurance, superannuation contributions, and other compensation.

Over the past few years, the expectations from the payroll jobs have evolved. Today, more organisations look at a payroll administrator as a key component of the HR department than a number-crunching post.

The evolution of the software industry has accelerated payroll services automation. It has meant there are fewer people in an organisation working as payroll administrators. Conversely, it has also opened new payroll jobs such as independent contractors, freelancers, and virtual assistants. The technological impact has also meant, payroll officers are multi-skilled and better contributors to the strategic decision-making process.

Who are the Payroll Administrators?

The conventional role of a payroll administrator was linked to number crunching and payroll services only. However, organisations face stern competition and demand diversified skills from each employee these days. The payroll job has evolved as well.

Some of the key responsibilities with a payroll job are:

  • Calculation and recording of employee working hours and wages.
  • Calculation and disbursement of wages accurately.
  • Calculation of employee taxes, insurance, and other deductions.
  • Maintain records of employee additional payments such as overtime, bonus, and sick leave.
  • Statutory compliance of the organisation with state and federal regulations regarding payroll, income tax, and superannuation.
  • Aiding HR for new hires, redundancy and terminations.
  • Aiding HR with new policies and procedures on employee payroll and benefits.
  • Issuing payslips, tax forms, and other relevant documentation to all employees.

The list of tasks related to a payroll job is not exhaustive and depends largely on the size of the organisation.

How Can Much Payroll Administrators Earn in Australia?

Like any other job, the average salary of a payroll administrator also depends on your skills and experience. According to, the average salary of a payroll administrator is AU$ 62,072.

The career progression in a Payroll job can be mapped as:

Payroll Administrator >> Payroll Officer/Manager >> Payroll Specialists >> HR Manager

As with any job, you’ll need to improve your skillset and qualification along with experience.

One way of improving your skills is to take a quality payroll course.

What is the Required Educational Qualification?

A payroll job will always require mathematical and numerical competency. For a junior-level payroll job, there are no specific educational qualifications. However, an employer would always be keen to appraise your credential in mathematics, numeracy, business administration, and IT subjects.

As a starting option in a payroll job, your prerequisites can be listed as:

  • Proficiency in basic mathematics and numeracy.
  • Proficiency in MS Excel, MS Word. Basic to intermediate level.
  • Ability to communicate effectively.
  • Attention to detail.
  • IT skills to enhance your credentials are desired in packages such as Xero and MYOB.
  • Effective presentation and communication skills.

Once you start a career in payroll services, you’ll need a professional qualification to progress. You can start with a high school education with accountancy and business administration.

You can take a short course for payroll administration, or enrol in a diploma of payroll certification (FNS50417). A professional qualification will help you take your beginner’s career to progress through to advanced level and beyond.

Which Skills Do you need to Become a Payroll Administrator? 

With basic skills and secondary college education, you can get started with a payroll job. Once you accumulate essential skills and experience, employers will look for professional qualifications.

Your skillset can be the difference in an average or exceptional payroll job. Some key skills and competencies you should look to obtain are:

  • Accounting and Business Administration skills.
  • Payroll tax compliance
  • Bookkeeping
  • Human Resources
  • Payroll management
  • Software and IT skills
  • Communication and Presentation skills
  • Problem-solving skills

In recent times, payroll jobs have evolved into multi-tasking roles. Hence, employers look for diversified skillset from potential candidates. However, soft skills such as problem-solving, communication, ability to meet deadlines, and integrity have gained utmost importance recently.

Payroll Administrators as Multi-Skill Assets 

Payroll administrators work under a lot of pressure. They need to be accurate and perform with tight deadlines. Their numeracy and accounting skills become prerequisite skillset for any payroll job.

For a large organisation with hundreds of employees, the task of accurate payroll processing can be complex. Software and automation have eased the pressure somewhat, but payroll administrators still require to keep the human touch brightened.

As automation replaces the human touch for large organisations, the expectations from the payroll administrators change. Today, employers look for a more diversified role from payroll officers than before.

Here are some core competencies that you should consider along with the educational qualification.

Creative Thinkers

Dealing with uncertainty requires thinking out of the box solutions. We live in a volatile and uncertain business world. If you wish to make a progressive career with payroll services, you must possess the quality of creativity.

Problem Solving Skills

Payroll services have embedded problems from tight schedules, accuracy, as well as compliance. Employers expect the payroll administrators to possess good problem-solving skills in uncertain times and under pressure.

Help with Decision Making

Payroll administrators can play an active part in decision-making regarding HR policies and procedures. Turning data into useful insights will always play a vital role in your career progression in any modern job.

Communication and Responsibility

Keeping an eye on every small detail is what you can expect from the payroll jobs. Payroll administrators ensure the accuracy of records. Effective communication to both internal and external stakeholders becomes of paramount importance.

Take the Lead with Applied Education Australia

If you want to succeed in a payroll job and progress in the career, you must match your skillset with industry difficulties. You can take a short course for quick learning or enrol in a recognised qualification.

  • Payroll Administration- Short Course
  • Learn Payroll Software – XERO or MYOB
  • Payroll Skillset Certification – FNSSS00012
  • Diploma of Payroll Certification – FNS50417

Applied Education is the leader in payroll training and has been delivering courses in this field since 1999. Our latest educational courses are developed with the help of professional payroll experts.

If you are looking to re-skill or up-skill but unsure of which course best suits you, get in touch with one of our consultants today and we will endeavour to help you.

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