A payroll specialist works in the finance or accounting department of a mid to large sized business, and assists in processing the employee payroll. The job description of a payroll specialist involves a background in accounting, the ability to use financial software and spreadsheets, and a familiarity with tax preparation and auditing.
A payroll specialist prepares and distributes a company’s payroll, prepares any necessary tax documents, and makes sure that all hours, benefits, and deductions are logged appropriately and that all payroll accounts remain balanced.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities of a Payroll Specialist
- Reviews timecards for hourly employees to make sure there are no errors.
- Ensures that all benefits and insurance premiums are deducted from paychecks.
- Tracks vacation and sick hours to ensure that they are accurately listed on paystubs.
- Makes sure all payroll accounts are balanced.
- Enters employee’s personal information into payroll database.
- Prepares and submits payroll documents.
- Adheres to all state and federal regulations for payroll processing.
- Explains benefits and payroll process to new employees.
- Responds to inquiries from employees about salaries and wages.
- Processes overtime payments.
- Resolves any discrepancies surrounding payroll issues.
- Processes W-4s for tax purposes.
- Distributes W-2s for tax purposes.
- Prepares year-end payroll reports.
- Keeps up to date on changes in company tax status.
- Reports to finance manager or payroll supervisor with updates and problems.
- Sets up direct deposits.
- Prepares and distributes paper checks when necessary.
- Contacts banks and IRS in the event of any deposit, withdrawal, or tax questions and discrepancies.
- Assists finance department in preparing for an audit.
- Keeps detailed and organized payroll records.
- Communicates regularly with benefits experts and finance managers to ensure that all employee records and accounts are in line.
Required Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
- Demonstrates familiarity with basic word processing programs and spreadsheets.
- Exhibits understanding of company benefits such as 401(k)s, insurance, paid leave, and other voluntary deductions.
- Demonstrates strong organizational skills.
- Possesses knowledge of basic principles of accounting.
- Pays close attention to detail.
- Possesses basic math skills.
- Communicates information clearly and effectively.
- Possesses knowledge of financial software programs like Quicken.
- Demonstrates understanding of tax documents and preparation processes.
- Works well with a team to expedite audits and tax preparation.
- Is able to multitask efficiently.
Education and Experience
- High school diploma or GED required.
- Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting preferred.
- 2-3 years of work experience in the accounting field preferred.
- CPP (Certified Payroll Professional) or FPC (Fundamental Payroll Certification) recommended.
- The majority of working hours will be spent in a temperature controlled office setting.
- Standard 40-hour workweek applies.
- Light physical activity such as walking and standing required.
- The average salaries for a payroll specialist range from $37,000-$45,000.
- The highest paid specialists with full certification and advanced degrees make between $45,000 and $56,000.