Payroll Administrator

Job Description:

Payroll administrators make sure employees get paid the right amount on the right date.

Job Category:
Financial Services

What you will do:

You may:

  • check how many hours employees have worked
  • calculate and issue pay by cash, cheque or electronic transfer
  • deduct tax and national insurance payments
  • process holiday, sick and maternity pay, and expenses
  • calculate overtime, shift payments and pay increases
  • answer staff queries about timesheets or pay slips
  • issue P45s and other tax forms


You’ll need:

  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • administration skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to work on your own (drive)
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

Becoming a Payroll Administrator doesn’t typically require specific subjects, but having a solid educational foundation and relevant skills can be beneficial for this career. Here are some suggested subjects to become a Payroll Administrator:

  1. Mathematics: Strong mathematical skills are essential for payroll administration, as you’ll be dealing with calculations, tax deductions, and other financial aspects.
  2. Business Studies or Economics: These subjects can provide you with a basic understanding of financial principles and business operations, which are relevant to payroll.
  3. ICT (Information and Communication Technology): Proficiency in using computer software and spreadsheets is crucial in payroll administration.
  4. English: Good communication skills are valuable in any administrative role, including Payroll Administrator, as you may need to communicate with employees and colleagues.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly
  • a specialist course run by a professional body


You can do an introductory course in bookkeeping and payroll, which can be studied at a college or by distance learning.  In the UK, for example, courses include:

  • Foundation Certificate in Bookkeeping
  • Certificate in Payroll
  • Certificate in Bookkeeping

You could do a course in Accounting and then apply for trainee positions. This may give you the chance to work towards further qualifications on the job through part-time study or a payroll apprenticeship.

Entry requirements for these courses vary.


Apprenticeships relevant to this role include:

  • advanced Payroll assistant
  • higher Payroll assistant manager

Direct Application

You could apply directly for job vacancies. While experience in payroll isn’t always essential, a background in bookkeeping and accounts could help improve your job prospects.

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 37-39 hours of work. You could be required to work between 8am and 6pm.

You could work in an office.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could progress to payroll supervisor or manager.