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4 Ways to Shine as a Payroll Accountant

Job opportunities for accountants are generally expected to grow 10 percent by 2026, and that extends to payroll accountants too. With unemployment low and businesses bringing on new hires at a faster rate, the need for payroll ...

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Job opportunities for accountants are generally expected to grow 10 percent by 2026, and that extends to payroll accountants too. With unemployment low and businesses bringing on new hires at a faster rate, the need for payroll accountants to manage and organize accounting systems and employee payment schedules is rapidly growing. Whether you’re searching for a new payroll gig or just looking to bone up on your existing skills, the slow summer months can be a great time to invest in yourself as a payroll professional. As the pace of business eases up and your workload lightens, use some of your newfound extra time to hit the books — not just the beach. Here are five areas you can focus on this summer to help you shine as a standout payroll accountant.  

1. Keep up with compliance

How well do you understand all the controls, tax requirements and relevant regulations that apply to your business? Payroll departments are put under a constant microscope by regulatory agencies, so familiarity with the latest protocols is a must in order to ensure compliance — especially if you work for a larger organization where risk is even greater. Stay on top of any changes to regulations that may pertain to your business. Employees who can keep up with the latest amendments will make a positive impression on fresh clients. If you’re looking to get a leg up, visit the American Payroll Association for courses you can take to help you stay compliant.

2. Get serious about security 

Cyber attacks and data breaches are on the rise, so organizations will look more favorably on candidates who can practice discretion and are up-to-date on the latest safety and security protocols. Between bank account information, social security numbers and home addresses, there’s a lot of sensitive client and employee information stored on business servers. Much of this can be counteracted by installing proper data security software, but many breaches still occur as a result of human error. Assuage your employer’s concerns by demonstrating that you’re an employee who knows how to properly handle confidential information and reassures your boss staying abreast of the latest changes to security procedures are a breeze.

3. Become the resident tech whiz

As we mentioned, there’s a whole slew of digital tools that have been integrated into the payroll workflow to improve efficiency. Microsoft Excel, perhaps the best-known and most relied-upon tool in the accountant’s toolkit, is a powerful program with tons of untapped capabilities. The more you study it and master its functionalities, the more you’ll be able to provide assistance to both your manager and team. The same goes for whatever payroll management systems your business uses the most. Many programs offer training on their websites (like Excel, for instance) or come with tutorials you can take right out of the box to help you gain mastery of a new skill.

4. Secure the right certification

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate your payrolling prowess is by getting an official piece of paper that proves it. While you don’t need a certification in order to work as a payroll accountant, it can help you stand out on the job market. And if you’re already employed, it can provide leverage when it comes time to negotiate a pay increase or secure a new promotion. If you’re a beginner, shoot for a Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC), then graduate to a Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) as you gain more knowledge and experience.

Focusing on these five areas and doing a little summer schooling of your own will have you on your way to becoming a standout payroll accountant in no time. Concentrate on turning the heat up on training now while you have some time, so you can hit the ground running in the fall when business picks back up.


Jodi Chavez is Group President, Randstad Professionals, Randstad Life Sciences and Tatum, where sh oversees the field organization and provides strategic direction. With more than 20 years’ experience in the staffing industry, Jodi’s entrepreneurial drive and strong business acumen have enabled her to consistently increase revenues, grow profits and deliver ROI. Her breadth of expertise spans team building, strategic planning and execution, M&A, branding, social media and multi-generational leadership.

See inside August 2019

AICPA News August 2019

A roundup of recent news from the AICPA.


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