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How to Hire a Payroll Specialist

Does your growing business need a payroll specialist? Payroll specialists support your accounting and human resources teams by issuing payments to your employees.

Here are some tips to help you find great payroll specialist candidates and make the right hire for your business.

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Payroll specialists searching for jobs on Indeed*


Job seekers that clicked payroll specialist jobs


Resumes for job seekers with payroll specialist experience on Indeed


Payroll specialist jobs that received clicks

What is the cost of hiring payroll specialist?

  • Common salary in US: $20.74 hourly
  • Typical salaries range from $7.80$39.75 hourly
  • Find more information on Indeed Salary

*Indeed data (US) – April 2021

As of April 2021, payroll specialist jobs in the U.S. are moderately competitive compared to other job markets, with an average of 46 job seekers per payroll specialist job.

Why hire a payroll specialist?

The need for new staff can affect both your existing team and your bottom line. A great payroll specialist hire can help your business:

• Collect and update banking information for employee direct deposit
• Document and file all payroll records
• Troubleshoot and resolve any payroll-related issues

Deciding between a full-time vs freelance payroll specialist

Small businesses that have limited payroll information can hire freelance payroll specialists to work part-time hours. They can also hire a freelancer to examine their payroll records, search for inconsistencies and errors, determine what caused any issues and fix the problem. 

Additionally, freelance payroll specialists can train new full-time hires and provide coverage for full-time specialists taking time off work. They can also be hired in an interim capacity to perform payroll services while the company searches for a replacement.  

Many small and large companies hire full-time payroll specialists if they have enough work to justify the cost. 

What are the ranks of payroll specialists?

In the financial field, there are a number of jobs that focus primarily on payroll services. These positions include:

  • Payroll clerkAlso known as a payroll assistant, a payroll clerk provides assistance to payroll specialists during their daily tasks. A clerk may be responsible for processing payroll information, entering data and collecting time sheets. 
  • Payroll specialist: Payroll specialists perform the daily operations of the payroll department. They process payroll information, train lower-level employees on how to use financial software, manage company expenses and examine payroll records to protect against fraud and mistakes. 
  • Payroll managerPayroll managers are responsible for producing and issuing paychecks, managing digital transfers to employees’ bank accounts, preparing financial reports and resolving payroll issues.
  • Chief financial officerThe CFO’s responsibilities encompass all the company’s fiscal matters, including payroll. They make all big decisions regarding the payroll department and resolve major disputes within the department. 

Where to find payroll specialists

To find the right payroll specialist for your business, consider trying out a few different recruiting strategies:

  • Promote from within. Assess the knowledge and skills of your payroll clerks. If any are interested in the position and show the required potential, conduct interviews with them to make a decision. 
  • Search online. Conduct searches online to see if there are any remote payroll specialists who are looking for work. 
  • Network. Maintain avenues of communication with other companies to find leads about recently unemployed payroll specialists. 
  • Post flyers. Hang up help wanted flyers advertising the position to encourage quality candidates in the community to send in applications. 
  • Post your job online. Try posting your payroll specialist job on Indeed to find and attract quality payroll specialist candidates.

Skills to look for in a great Payroll Specialist

A great Payroll Specialist candidate will have the following skills and attributes as well as work experience that reflects:

• Previous experience in payroll management preferred
• Bachelor’s degree in accounting
• Experience with Microsoft Office
• Precise attention to detail
• Excellent organizational skills
• Maintains employee confidence

Writing a payroll specialist job description

A thoughtful description is important to finding qualified payroll specialist candidates. A payroll specialist job description includes a compelling summary of the role, a detailed list of duties and responsibilities and the required and preferred skills for the position.

When writing your payroll specialist job description, consider including some or all of the following keywords to improve the visibility of your job posting. These are the most popular search terms leading to clicks on payroll specialist jobs, according to Indeed data:

  • Payroll
  • Payroll specialist
  • Accounting 
  • Bookkeeping
  • Remote work from home
  • Data entry
  • Accounting specialist
  • Human resources
  • Accounts payable
  • Remote payroll

Interviewing payroll specialist candidates

Strong candidates for payroll specialist positions will be confident answering questions regarding:

• Reconciling payroll reporting with the accounting department
• Maintaining and updating banking records
• Keeping up with workplace payroll trends

Need help coming up with interview questions? See our list of payroll specialist interview questions for examples (with sample answers).

FAQs about how to hire a payroll specialist

What's the difference between a payroll specialist and a payroll administrator?

A payroll specialist is responsible for performing the daily tasks of the payroll department. Payroll administrators work to optimize the efficiency of the department. 

What is a certified payroll specialist license?

Payroll specialists can earn CPS licenses to show they have the knowledge and expertise required in the payroll field. 

Do I need to hire a payroll specialist?

If you have a small business, you may not need to hire a specialist. The job’s responsibilities can be taken on by another member of the department, such as the manager or administrator. 

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