Payroll and Timekeeping Clerks

Payroll and timekeeping clerks make sure that everyone in a company gets paid on time, for the correct hours and rate. This is an important job, because paid employees of any organization depend on receiving their check at a particular time of the month, for a specific amount. If they don’t receive the correct amount at the right time, they might not be able to pay their bills or attend to other expenses. Payroll clerks keep the money flowing.

Are you looking for a job as a payroll and timekeeping clerk? Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Have the right education and training. Most employers hire payroll clerks who have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. Your education may determine how much you can earn as a payroll and timekeeping clerk. On average, payroll clerks earn about $34,000 a year—and the more education you have, the more likely you can earn above the average. If you dropped out of high school, one of the best things you can do is get your GED—it will help you find better-paying jobs.
  • Know what to expect. What exactly is involved with being a payroll or timekeeping clerk? Payroll and timekeeping clerks have many tasks during the workday. These tasks may include calculating deductions (like income tax withholding, Social Security payments, insurance, and union dues), preparing and distributing pay envelopes, setting up automatic electronic transfers, and keeping records of an employee’s company account (benefit deductions, sick leave, vacation pay, 401k contributions, and so on).
  • Get friendly with computers. Many of the daily payroll and timekeeping tasks require the use of a computer. You should know your way around a computer, and be able to use common spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel. If you don’t know a lot about computers, you should definitely look into a computer literacy course at your public library or community college. Many community colleges offer short instructional courses in common computer programs like Excel, and these courses are often designed for beginners, so you will be able to catch up in no time. And don’t forget to list your computer skills on your resume.
  • View the job as a stepping stone. Employment of payroll clerks is expected to decline over the next decade, at a rate of about 5 percent a year. Computers and other electronic technologies have decreased the need for payroll clerks across the country. But despite these issues, becoming a payroll clerk is still a great way to learn more about a company and make contacts for future jobs. So when you are looking for payroll and timekeeping clerk jobs, focus your application efforts on companies that may help to advance your career. Starting out as a payroll clerk is a great way to gain experience and contacts within your field, paving the way for more stable and higher-paying jobs in the future.
  • Don’t get comfortable! Be wary of feeling comfortable with your resume and skills—in our technology-driven workforce, there is always something new to learn or master. Maybe you can pursue a certification program in complex payroll issues or attend a conference about the latest payroll software. This will show your employer that you’re committed to excellence in the payroll and timekeeping field.
  • Keep up the job hunt. Although employment of payroll and timekeeping clerks is expected to decline, there are still plenty of jobs out there. High turnover and promotions within the department often leave payroll jobs empty, just waiting for the right person to step in.
  • Network with people in the field to see what opportunities they may know about, and don’t forget to visit online search engines regularly for new postings. You should also spread the word among your family and friends that you’re looking for a payroll clerk job—who knows what job may come your way? Word of mouth is frequently the most effective way to find a job. You may also want to review your resume, to make sure it’s up to date and easy to understand.