Payroll Manager

Job Description:

Payroll managers manage the payroll department within an organisation.

Job Category:
Financial Services

What you will do:

You may:

  • supervise and train the payroll team
  • create payroll policies and procedures
  • advise on tax and pay laws
  • manage computer software and systems
  • analyse and report on financial data
  • check and audit payroll to make sure regulations are met
  • 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


You’ll need:

  • Business management skills & Administration skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • customer service skills
  • leadership skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail (organisational skills)
  • sensitivity and understanding
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Payroll Manager, specific subjects are not typically required. However, having a strong educational foundation in certain subjects can be beneficial for developing the skills and knowledge necessary for this career. Payroll Managers oversee payroll processing, including calculating wages, deductions, and ensuring compliance with tax and labor laws.

While specific subjects are not mandatory, here are some subjects that can be helpful:

  1. Mathematics: Strong mathematical skills are essential for accurate payroll calculations, including gross and net pay, taxes, and deductions.
  2. English Language: Effective communication skills, including written and verbal communication, are important for documenting payroll transactions and interacting with employees and government agencies.
  3. Business Studies or Accounting (optional): Courses related to business principles, accounting, and finance can provide a foundational understanding of financial concepts and payroll processes.
  4. ICT (Information and Communication Technology): Proficiency in using computer software for payroll processing and data management is crucial.
  5. Legal Studies (optional): Familiarity with labor laws, tax regulations, and employment contracts can be beneficial when ensuring compliance with payroll-related laws and regulations.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly
  • specialist training with a professional body

You can do an introductory course in bookkeeping and payroll, which can be studied at a college or by distance learning. Courses include:

  • Foundation Certificate in Bookkeeping
  • Level 1 Certificate in Payroll
  • Level 1 or 2 Certificate in Bookkeeping

You could also do a T Level in Accounting and apply for trainee payroll manager roles. You could gain further qualifications on the job, through part-time study or a higher apprenticeship.

With payroll experience you may then be able to move into a managerial position.

Apprenticeships relevant to this role include:

  • advanced Payroll administrator
  • higher Payroll assistant manager

You may be able to work your way up from these apprenticeships, with experience, to a managerial position.

You could start as a payroll administrator and get training and experience on the job. You’ll usually need several years’ experience in payroll before moving into management.

Direct Application
You may be able to join a payroll department if you’ve worked as a manager elsewhere, although you will need experience in accounts.

Other Routes
You could take qualifications in payroll.

Courses are available from introductory basics through to foundation degree level and higher. It’s recommended that you’re working in a payroll department to do the higher level qualifications.

Career tips
You’ll need a good understanding of payroll legislation.

Working Hours and Environment:

Typically you could work 37 to 39 hours a week.

You could work in an office.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could work in the finance department of larger companies or public sector organisations like local authorities.

You could move into pensions management or do further training to qualify as an accountant.

You could also work for a payroll bureau that provides payroll services to other companies.