Payroll Specialist Career Path

Are you thinking of becoming a Payroll Specialist or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Payroll Specialist, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Payroll Specialist job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

How to Become a payroll specialist

If you're considering starting your Payroll Specialist career path, it's important to note the skills, qualifications, and time it takes to become a professional Payroll Specialist and how to advance your career path. Below are the steps generally required to begin and advance your Payroll Specialist career.


Earn a Degree

To begin your Payroll Specialist career path, a Bachelor's Degree in Business or a related field is usually necessary in order to remain a competitive option for employers. Focus on industry-specific skill development during your education in order to be properly equipped when applying for entry-level positions and entering the job force. A Payroll Specialist internship may be required to earn your Bachelor's Degree and acquire necessary on-the-job skills before entering the workforce.

What type of degree should you pursue to become a Payroll Specialist?

53% of people working as a Payroll Specialist earned a Bachelor's Degree

What skills do you need to be a Payroll Specialist?

  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Excellent Organizational
  • Attention To Detail
  • Written Communication
  • Excellent Communication
  • Excellent Customer Service
  • Outlook
  • Microsoft EXCEL
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as a Payroll Specialist in the United States.


Choose a Specialty in Your Field

As an Payroll Specialist, you may be required to choose a specialty within your field. Determine which part of the Payroll Specialist field you feel strongest in, and continue taking active steps toward growing in your chosen Payroll Specialist specialty.


Get an Entry-Level Position as a Payroll Specialist

Once you've acquired a Bachelor's Degree in Business or a related field, you'll typically begin your career as an entry-level Payroll Specialist. In general, you can become a Payroll Specialist after completing your 4 year Bachelor's Degree in a related discipline. Depending on the type of Payroll Specialist role you’re pursuing, you may want to explore certification in certified payroll professional.


Advance in Your Payroll Specialist Career

Following entry-level, there are several Payroll Specialist career path levels to advance into. It can take 2 years as an entry-level Payroll Specialist to progress to the senior payroll specialist position. Each advanced Payroll Specialist position requires approximately 2 years of experience at each level to advance in your Payroll Specialist career path. It may be necessary to receive additional education, an advanced degree such as a Master's Degree in a related field, or special certifications in order to advance your Payroll Specialist career path.


Continued Education for Your Payroll Specialist Career Path

Not all industries and companies require continued education to advance your Payroll Specialist career path. However, earning this degree may help you advance to higher-earning positions more quickly. Earning a Bachelor's Degree in Business can take 4 years to complete. People that have earned their Bachelor's Degree typically make $65,913 compared to $33,793 for those without that type of degree.

Seniority Levels


Payroll Specialist

2 - 4Years of Experience
$74,242 /yrTotal Pay
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32% advanced to


Senior Payroll Specialist

2 - 4Years of Experience
$80,787 /yrTotal Pay
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Lead Payroll Specialist

5 - 7Years of Experience
$79,015 /yrTotal Pay
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Total Pay Trajectory

Payroll Specialist Career Path

Seniority Levels

Related Careers in the Human Resources Industry

Interested in other Human Resources careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Payroll Specialist skills. Discover some of the most common Payroll Specialist career transitions, along with skills overlap.