They say that you don’t choose payroll, payroll chooses you. For many of us who work in the payroll profession and love the job, that statement rings true. There are a couple of paths to becoming a payroll professional:
- Joining an organisation as a Payroll Administrator and gaining experience on the job;
- Moving from a finance role; and
- If accountancy qualified, joining an organisation as a Payroll Analyst or perhaps as a Payroll Accountant.
If comfortable with technology, then a Payroll Specialist is where software expertise is especially appreciated but the traits that all payroll people share are keen attention to detail, strong numeracy skills, discretion, and the ability to manage multiple tasks effectively and efficiently while working towards deadlines.
Many people who work in payroll arrive in their position from another finance or accountancy role. We tend to be asked to move to payroll because we have proven ourselves to be accurate, dependable and reliable in the work we do. We’re there because we love detail and we take pride in getting our numbers to balance, not just most of the time, but all of the time. The people at the receiving end of the work we do, our colleagues, are sticklers in ensuring they are getting their fair dues. After all, what is more important to any employee, us payroll people included, than getting paid accurately and on time?
It is perhaps only when you find yourself working in payroll that you really come to appreciate what a great career it really is. If you ask a payroll person why they do the job they do, they will tell you about the challenge and satisfaction that comes with getting every sum right, of running the payroll and not getting a single telephone call. Because a quiet phone in the payroll department means a job well done!
The payroll department in any organisation tends not to be staffed by people who love the limelight. We leave that to other departments. Payroll staff tend to be the quiet, hard-working dependable type, who get their job satisfaction from knowing they’ve done their job well. It’s a particular type of pleasure, and of course, it’s not for everyone. It’s also one of the few roles where you don’t have to be an extrovert to thrive. If the thought of speaking to a crowded room sends you running for the door but preparing, processing, maintaining, checking, and reconciling employee payroll records sounds appealing, then payroll is probably the job of your dreams.
Payroll careers are built on solid foundations. Do your job well and the prospects of progression are excellent. Prove your worth by keeping up to date on the constantly changing legislative changes, and your career path will open up in front of you.