Payroll Clerk Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Payroll Clerk, or Payroll Administrator, process employees’ paychecks by collecting their payroll data and timesheets. Their duties include verifying employees’ work hours and payment through the payroll system, issuing deductions, earnings and other statements to employees and updating payroll records regularly.

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Payroll Clerk duties and responsibilities

Although a Payroll Clerk has a variety of duties and responsibilities, their principle role includes the following:

  • Maintaining payroll information by collating, calculating and entering data
  • Updating payroll records by entering any changes to employee information or benefits such as job title changes, exemptions and saving deductions
  • Preparing reports that include summaries of earnings, tax deductions, leave, compassionate leave and non-taxable wages 
  • Calculating payroll liabilities by determining employee taxes, including federal and state income and social security tax, and calculating employer’s payments for social security, unemployment and worker’s compensation
  • Resolving payroll discrepancies and answering any employee payroll queries
  • Maintaining all payroll operations according to company policies and procedures
  • Processing and issuing W-2 forms to employees
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What does a Payroll Clerk do?

Payroll Clerks work within a company’s payroll or accounting department collecting employees’ payroll information to process and deliver paychecks. They’ll gather employees’ time sheets after each pay period and will verify that their payroll information and work hours are correct. Payroll Clerks use a software system to input basic data into the payroll system. 

They’ll collaborate closely with employees to gather any important payment information or to answer any of their questions regarding their paychecks. Payroll Clerks will work carefully to calculate payroll information like taxes, deductions, bonuses, commissions and other payable hours. If any payroll issues or discrepancies occur, the Payroll Clerk must investigate and resolve them.

Payroll Clerk skills and qualifications

A proficient Payroll Clerk should have these skills to do their job well:

  • Strong computer skills such as typing, system and software knowledge
  • Knowledge of wage withholding orders
  • Accurate data entry skills with great attention to detail 
  • Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written, to communicate with employees regarding their issues and concerns
  • Good client service skills
  • Being an effective team player
  • Sound decision-making skills
  • Ability to multitask in a stressful environment with specific deadlines
  • Ability to work independently in a time-sensitive environment
  • Confidentiality and respect for the privacy of employee records

Payroll Clerk salary expectations

A Payroll Clerk makes an average salary of $16.92 per hour. Pay rate may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location.

Payroll Clerk education and training requirements

Payroll Clerks aren’t subject to formal education requirements besides a high school diploma or GED, but certificate programs in bookkeeping and payroll administration are available. They can become certified through the American Payroll Association (APA) or get an official designation as a Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) or a Fundamental Payroll Certification (PFC) by taking an examination. Some companies favor candidates with an associate or bachelor’s degree in accounting or a similar field. 

Payroll Clerk experience requirements

Entry-level Payroll Clerks generally start with little or no experience, while a mid-level Payroll Clerk usually has three to five years of relevant experience. The amount of experience you should require in your job listing depends on the seniority of the position and your organization’s needs.

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Frequently asked questions about Payroll Clerks

 

Who does a Payroll Clerk report to?

Payroll Clerks will typically report to Payroll Supervisors, who are in charge of the entire payroll department. Payroll Supervisors will provide Payroll Clerks with their schedules and daily tasks. If Payroll Clerks need additional guidance or advice regarding complex responsibilities, they’ll typically ask the Payroll Supervisor for assistance. 

Payroll Clerks will also report to Payroll Specialists for one-on-one meetings, where they’ll gain feedback on their work performance and will receive tips for ways to improve.  

 

What settings do Payroll Clerks typically work in?

Payroll Clerks typically work in a business office environment collaborating with several different departments and employees. Many of them may work in a cubicle or within their own office since they’re typically dealing with confidential employee payment information and company finances. When they process payrolls, they’ll usually work independently behind their desks, using a computer screen for a majority of their workday. Other days they’ll spend more time meeting with employees or department heads to resolve complaints and address any payroll concerns. 

 

What's the difference between a Payroll Clerk and an Accounting Clerk?

While they’re both entry-level roles who handle payments and finances, there are some key differences between the job responsibilities of Payroll and Accounting Clerks. Payroll Clerks work primarily in the payroll department, processing and calculating employees’ paychecks. 

Accounting Clerks work in the accounting department handling other aspects of the company’s finances. They’ll update various ledgers and will prepare financial reports, budgets, deposits and checks. Larger companies will usually have separate accounting and payroll departments, while smaller companies will typically combine these departments. When this occurs, Accounting Clerks may complete their own accounting tasks along with the tasks a Payroll Clerk typically performs. 

 

What makes a good Payroll Clerk?

A great Payroll Clerk has effective data entry abilities to input information into the computer system each day. They should also have excellent computer skills, so they can easily understand common payroll software systems to efficiently complete their payroll processing duties. Since they typically have many paychecks to process at once, Payroll Clerks should have impressive time management abilities to ensure each paycheck is calculated, filed and delivered by its respective deadline. 

Many Payroll Clerks must work closely with other department heads and employees to address any payroll errors or answer any questions. They must use their communication and problem-solving skills to provide professional answers and to ensure any payment issues are properly resolved. 

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