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How Much Does a Payroll Accountant Make?

In today’s competitive job market, finding a career that offers a strong earning potential is paramount. While higher education typically allows an individual to earn a higher salary than those with a high school diploma, some careers offer a higher average salary than others. It’s important to do your homework before committing to any career path.

What do Payroll Accountants Do?

Payroll Accountants are generally responsible for preparing accounting documents, creating schedules and summaries, and keeping the financial accounts of an organization or company balanced. They also regularly perform audits, review financial statements, and assess the need for new accounts.

In addition to their general responsibilities, Payroll Accountants must also:

– Be Knowledgeable of Payroll Laws
– Understand Benefits Taxation
– Prepare Payroll Reports
– Prepare Documents For Audit
– Prepare Financial Statements
– Periodically Audit Payroll Accounts

Educational Requirements

Payroll Accountants typically possess a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Accounting, Business Administration, or a related field. Payroll Accountants must possess a solid understanding of accounting theory and be able to apply that understanding to payroll accounting transactions.

In addition to formal education, many employers require an accountant to be a Certified Public Accountant. Though the requirements to become a CPA vary by state, most states require a minimum of 150 hours of accounting education, which is approximately 30 semester hours beyond a bachelor’s degree. Some universities and colleges offer specialized 5-year degree programs for accountants to satisfy the education requirement but many students simply enroll in an accredited Master’s degree program in Accounting, Accounting and Finance, or Business Administration. In some states, the educational requirement can be satisfied with a Bachelor’s degree and several years of experience as an accountant.

For more information about the CPA, visit the official website of the AICPA.

For those specifically interested in pursuing a career as a payroll professional, the American Payroll Association (APA) offers a certified payroll professional credential. Information for obtaining this certification can be found here.

What is the Average Salary of a Payroll Accountant

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have information related to payroll accountants specifically, they do provide overall salary information for accountants and auditors of all types.

As of May 2012, the median annual salary of accountants, including payroll accountants, was $71,040. More than one million accountants are employed full-time in the United States. The top 10% of accountants earn more than $111,510 annually while the bottom 10% earn less than $40,000 annually. State governments employ more than 36,000 accountants, a portion of which serve as payroll accountants. States that employ the most accountants are California, New York, Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

The salary of a Payroll Accountant depends heavily on the industry he or she is employed in, how many years of experience he or she possesses as an accountant, and whether or not he or she is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant. To get the highest possible salary, you may want to invest the time and effort to become a CPA.

Related Resource: What are Some Common Requirements for Being Allowed to Take the CPA Exam?