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How to become a Payroll Officer?

by Chloe Baird
Posted: May 23, 2021

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Payroll Officers sit within the human resources department of a company, though they work very closely with the finance department, too.  

The role of a Payroll Officer is pivotal. They’re the ones in charge of ensuring that all employee data is correct and accurate so that people get paid on time! But the job of a Payroll Officer involves much more than processing pay checks.

Read on to find out what the responsibilities of a Payroll Officer are, what you can expect to get paid and what your career prospects are like. 

Payroll Officer

Should I become a Payroll Officer? 

There are a number of hard and soft skills needed to become a Payroll Officer. It’s a job that requires keen attention to detail and an understanding of maths; but you’ll also be frequently interacting with other people, which means there are certain soft skills that will also come in handy.  

Here are some of the skills you’ll need to become a Payroll Officer: 

 Eye for detail 

To be a successful Payroll Officer, you need to be meticulous and detail orientated. Payroll is a crucial part of any business, and processing payroll on time and with total accuracy is important. This means that you also need to be across information like employee leave, overtime, benefits, bonuses, deductions, superannuation and more.  

Strong communications skills  

Communication skills in payroll are also important, as you’ll be dealing with employees at all levels of the business. This means you’ll need strong written and verbal communication skills.  

Good maths skills 

You also need to have basic maths skills, as some of the calculations you may need to perform for payroll could be quite complex. While there are plenty of software systems available that will make this part of the job easier, you’ll still need to understand how to input calculations and data in order to get the answers you need. Having basic maths skills will help you to avoid making errors.  

Knowledge of industry software 

There are many different kinds of payroll software available. MYOB, Xero, Sage, Reckon One and QuickBooks are all popular software systems that process payroll. You don’t need to master every single one of them, but having an understanding of the basics will help. 

Legal knowledge 

Because payroll is tied in with government laws and regulations that are related to taxation, its important for Payroll Officers to have an understanding of compliance. And because legal requirements can change over time, it’s important to stay up to date with the most recent information.  

Tasks and responsibilities of a Payroll Officer 

What does a Payroll Officer do? These are some of the more common tasks and responsibilities of a Payroll Officer, though these could vary depending on the company and the size of the business.  

Day-to-day job description for a Payroll Office might include the following: 

  • Processing payroll transactions on time and with complete accuracy 
  • Creating files for new employees and maintaining and updating existing employee information 
  • Collating data for payroll information 
  • Reporting on earnings, deductions, taxes, leave and non-taxable wages  
  • Maintaining superannuation and other deduction and contribution records 
  • Identifying and resolving payroll discrepancies 
  • Adhering to payroll policies and procedures 
  • Establish and implement financial reporting as needed 

Accounting Officer

Is Payroll Officer a good career choice? 

Working in HR, specifically payroll, means that you’re not limited to any particular industry. Every company needs some capable of managing payroll, no matter what kind of business they’re in.  

This means that you’ll never be limited to working in one particular industry – though of course, some people working in HR may find their niche and choose to specialise.  

Another good reason to begin a career in payroll is the competitive salary. According to Seek, the average salary for Payroll Officers is $70,000.  

What career opportunities are there for Payroll Officers? 

How do people approach a career path in payroll? 

Payroll sits within HR, though it necessarily overlaps with the finance department. So if you currently work in HR or in finance, you could use your previous experience to move into a payroll position. Depending on your level of experience, this could be as a Payroll Clerk or a more senior role.  

Alternatively, if you’re looking to switch careers entirely or you’re looking to enter the workforce for the first time, a qualification could help you get the job.  

Many people start out as Payroll Clerks. From there you could move into a role with more responsibility, such as Payroll Officer, then Payroll Manager.  

Larger companies need people with dedicated roles. However, smaller companies may need someone who can wear a few different hats and juggle the responsibilities of payroll as well as other duties. This means that if you have experience in payroll, you could eventually branch out into a role with larger scope. 

Do I need a qualification to become a Payroll Officer? 

You don’t need a qualification to work as a Payroll Officer. However, a qualification can give you a head start when you begin applying for jobs.  

A good place to start is with the FNS40217 Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping. This online course will teach you the essential skills needed to manage payroll, including preparing and processing payroll, handling payroll-related enquiries and establishing payroll requirements.  

On top of that, you’ll also learn about the ins and outs of the finance industry, which will give you a fantastic base to work from if you’re thinking of pursuing a career in payroll.  

What are you waiting for? Enrol with OC and study an online course today. 


Chloe Baird

Chloe is an Open Colleges alumnus who now works full time for OC as a Content and Copywriting Specialist. She is passionate about encouraging others to pursue their goals through education.

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