As a payroll specialist, you work with sensitive data, and accuracy and confidentiality is of the utmost importance. Your job will include data entry, payroll reporting, assisting employees with payroll and benefits inquires, and administering company payroll and benefits. Your position could involve other accounting related tasks and can evolve as your organization’s structure and accounting needs change over time.
Payroll specialists typically work a standard work week (9-5) in an office setting. Depending on your role and the type of company you work for, such as an HR consulting company, you may administer payroll for more than one company or work remotely on occasion. You will report to the payroll manager or HR manager, and execute the tasks assigned to you by them.
The average salary for a payroll specialist in Canada is just over $50,000 annually. On the lower end, and when you are new to the position, you can expect a starting salary of about $40,000. With a number of years’ experience, you can expect to make up to $70,000 per year. You may also qualify for bonuses and profit sharing, depending on the company you work for. You could make more than the average salary if you work in the Toronto region or Alberta, where salaries tend to skew up.
As part of your role as a payroll specialist, you will have a set number of tasks that are required to be executed at certain times during the week to ensure payroll is sent on time. Common day-to-day tasks include:
Payroll specialists are needed for companies of all sizes. Small and medium sized companies, large corporations and all other businesses require payroll specialists to administer pay to their employees.
You could also work as an independent contractor for a number of companies part time. Positions are available across the country, however, you will have more opportunities in larger cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal due to the larger number of companies in these areas.
Payroll specialists require a strong finance and accounting acumen as well as strong interpersonal skills. In accounting and HR, you work with people and with numbers. Here are some of the most important skills you will need to be successful in your job:
An academic background in accounting is a must to work as a payroll specialist. While some positions may only require a high school diploma, it is recommended that you obtain a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or business administration.
If you plan to move up into accounting management positions and further your career, working toward a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation is an asset. The more education, accounting skills, and experience you can obtain, the greater chance you will have to progress your career. Check with the company you want to work with for specific training and academic requirements. Some companies may offer specific training once you are hired.
Payroll specialists commonly move on to more senior payroll positions such as payroll supervisor, payroll manager, and later, on to roles such as payroll and benefits coordinator, payroll and benefits manager, and human resources manager.