Payroll and Time Keeping Clerk – Occupation Outlook

Payroll and Timekeeping Clerks

Nature of Work

Payroll and timekeeping clerks compile and maintain data relating to employee time and payroll. One of their main functions is to ensure that employees are accurately paid and paid on time.  More basic information on Payroll from wikipedia.

Training, Qualifications and Advancement

There is no special training for payroll or timekeeping clerks as they usually learn and are trained on the jog.  Employers would however, prefer to employ candidates who have at least completed high school and who exhibit good computer skills.

Payroll Certification and Study Guides –  Payroll Professional (CPP) and Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC).

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Payroll Exams – the Complete Guide

There are 2 main certifications for payroll – the Certified Payroll Professional of CPP, and the Fundamental Payroll Certification.

Both are administered by the American Payroll Association.  (  The APA has over 20,000 members and provides extensive support to all members with regular meetings across theUS as well as a magazine Paytech.   Membership is $219 for one year or $438 for two years.

The Fundamental Payroll Certification is the entry level certification for payroll.  In addition, it is recommended for sales people who interact with the payroll industry and Computer programmers or analysts who interact with payroll departments.

The Certified Payroll Professional is for payroll professionals.

The eligibility requirements for both exams correspond to the level different levels.

Fundamental Payroll Eligibility 

Candidates for the FPC must have completed a minimum 2 month course of study based on the FPC exam content.

Certified Payroll Professional Eligibility

Eligibility for the CPP is more complex with full details here.   Essentially candidates must complete 3 of the last 5 years working in a payroll capacity or take specified courses in the last 24 months.

Candidate Exam booklets for both certifications are available from the APA Website.

About the Exams

The FPC has 100 questions which must be answered in 3 hours and the CPP has 165 questions which must be answered in 4 hours.

For course content, see our Payroll Certification Pages

Fundamental Payroll Certification and Study Guide
Certified Payroll Professional Certification and Study Guide