What Does a Payroll Administrator Do: All Responsibilities

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A payroll administrator distributing wages and salaries to employees

Due to the high number of students graduating from high school and a throng of immigrants entering Canada, the demand for payroll administrators has surged significantly!   

A payroll administrator has an important position within an organization as they are responsible to carry out various financial operations including distribution and calculation of salaries, taxes and other financial compensations.

However, there are several other roles that a payroll administrator is expected to perform that will be discussed in detail in this article that you are just about to read.

So, if you are interested in knowing about what does a payroll administrator do or simply wish to know more crucial details such as the education requirements, certifications, and essential skills required to become an aspiring payroll administrator, you have landed at the right page!

So let’s get started.

Responsibilities of Payroll Administrator:

There is a huge variety of financial roles and responsibilities that a payroll administrator is expected to perform for smooth functioning of business’s financial operations.

 Few of many payroll admin responsibilities include:

  • Calculation and distribution of employee salaries, bonuses, wages,  and other pay structures
  • Making sure the exact amount of salaries and wages are distributed to employees on time
  • Responsibility of ensuring the tax charged is in compliance with updated tax regulations. 
  • Submission of tax filing to the government authorities 
  • Planning and administering employee benefit programs such as health insurance, paid leaves, retirement plans etc.
  • Updating payroll regularly for accurate and latest records (Manual/Software)
  • Looking into financial labor laws and regulations 
  • Provide necessary guidance to employees with payroll related queries or concerns
  • Conducting internal and external payroll audit
  • Maintaining communication with finance department to implement any necessary changes

 Educational Requirements of a Payroll Administrator:

  • High school graduation (for entry level payroll administrator position)
  • Associate/Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration or Accounting and Finance
  • Courses such as Accounting, Finance, Taxation, Business law, Mathematics, or Business finance may be a common requirement for secondary positions as a payroll administrator.
  • Payroll Administration Course


  • Certified Payroll Professional (CPP)
  • Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC)
  • Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals Certification (CIPP)
  • Canadian Payroll Association (CPA)
  • Certified Payroll Manager (CPM)
  • Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
  • Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)

Note: Besides fulfilling the educational requirements and getting certified, make sure to gain practical experiences with the help of on-the-job training, mentorship programs, participation in seminars or workshops etc.

Essential Skills and Qualities of Payroll Administrators:

  • Being attentive to details for accurate calculation and distribution of salaries
  • Managing payroll processing within the set period
  • Organizational skills to be able to multitask
  • Being able to use Payroll software to maintain records
  • Able to perform complex calculations such as financial compensations in salary/addition of bonus/tax deductions etc.
  • Deep understanding of tax and labor laws and regulations 
  • Verbal and written communication skills to collaborate with finance department
  • Problem solving skills
  • Data Analytical skills
  • Customer service skills to provide necessary assistance to customers in a professional manner

Steps to become a Payroll Administrator:

These are the steps for becoming a payroll administrator:

  • Acquire the educational requirements such as high school graduation for entry level position whereas an Associate or Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration or Finance for secondary position.
  • Get CPP or APA certification 
  • Gather practical experience through internships, voluntary programs, and active participation in mentorship, seminars or workshops in order to get familiar with the payroll process.
  • Update and be aware of various tax and labor laws and regulations and variations in payroll regulations.
  • Develop strong communication, organization, problem solving as well as analytical skills.
  • Access networking opportunities by interacting with professional organizations such as American Payroll Association.

Tips for Crafting a Compelling Resume and Cover Letter:

Resume Tips:

  • Your resume must clearly mention the skills you process related to the payroll process, such as strong mathematical skills, tax compliance, and technical skills.
  • Secondly, it should have details about past experience in the payroll field, which also includes internships or prior jobs.
  • Do not forget to list your achievements that are relevant to the payroll administration role. 
  • Mention your education status as well as certifications (if any)

Cover Letter Tips:

  • Your cover letter should include your experiences and skills
  • The cover letter should clearly highlight certifications 
  • Your cover letter should speak for your interest in payroll administration role
  • List down your achievements that make the employer understand how those achievements will be useful for the organization.

Common Interview Questions for Payroll Administrator Roles:

  • What led you to the payroll career path?
  • What payroll techniques do you use?
  • How can you improvise the payroll process?
  • How will you handle employee wage garnishments?
  • What do you know about the tax and labor regulations regarding payroll?
  • What are the duties of a payroll administrator?
  • Have you ever implemented a payroll change?
  • What does withholding tax mean?
  • What are the required source documents for payroll?
  • What payroll rules are you aware of?

Opportunities for Career Growth and Advancement within Payroll Administration:

  • Learn how to tackle the complexity of payroll process and take responsibilities of a senior payroll administrator in order to get a job with a higher pay, and therefore, position.
  • Become a payroll data analyst by strengthening mathematical and problem solving skills
  • Master the art of payroll supervisor in order to lead an entire payroll department as a manager and ensure all labor and tax laws are in accordance with the set regulations.
  • Specialize in global payroll, benefits administration, payroll systems management and other payroll related fields.
  • Advance your career by becoming a certified payroll professional or get other certifications
  • Opt for HR roles such as HR management, or Human Resources Information Systems.

Common Challenges Faced By Payroll Administrators:

  • Frequent variations in tax and labor laws and regulations

Solution: Regularly attending workshops hosted by industry professionals and continuous education. 

  • Security threats of Payroll Data 

Solution: Conduct regular security training, regular audits and invest in robust security measures

  • Staying updated with advanced and evolving payroll software

Solution: Attend regular payroll administration training sessions or workshops and keep the systems updated through continuous education

  • Managing employees’ queries and concerns:

Solution: Develop soft skills to effectively communicate with employees

  • Heavy workload and strict deadlines

Solution: Mastery in time management techniques

  • Payroll process inefficiencies

Solution: Regular feedback, reviewing payroll process frequently and working on weak areas


In conclusion, the duties of a payroll specialist play an important role in the smooth functioning of an organization’s financial operations. 

From ensuring timely payments of employees to handling complex payroll software, these specialists are the real guardians of an organization. 

I hope this article answered your question, “what does a payroll administrator do?”

Frequently Asked Questions:

What educational background is required to become a payroll administrator?

High school graduation, Associate/Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration or Accounting and Finance, or completion of courses such as Accounting, Finance, Taxation, Business law, Mathematics, or Business finance.

Are certifications necessary for a career in payroll administration?

Certification is not a mandatory deal, however, becoming a certified payroll professional can help an individual for his/her career advancement and to achieve senior level position as a payroll administrator.

How can I gain practical experience in payroll administration?

Practical experience in payroll administration can be gathered through internships, voluntary programs, and active participation in mentorship, seminars or workshops in order to get familiar with the payroll process.

What soft skills are important for a payroll administrator?

Some common soft skills important for a payroll administration include communication skills, organizational skills, problem solving skills and being attentive to minute details.

What are the common challenges faced by payroll administrators?

Some common challenges faced by payroll administrators include frequent variations in tax and labor laws and regulations, security threats of payroll data, staying updated with advanced and evolving payroll software, managing employees’ queries and concerns heavy workload and strict deadlines and payroll process inefficiencies.

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