As company payrolls and systems become increasingly complex and sophisticated, more and more businesses and companies have or will develop a position as a payroll director. However, increasingly, companies are moving towards outsourcing payroll functions as a cost saving strategy. In those companies where payroll is outsourced, there is likely still an individual within the organization designated as payroll director to assure the proper implementation of the payroll service. As such, the prospects for employment as a payroll director is good, though limited by the number of operating businesses, organizations, and companies. Thus, when the business economy is prosperous, there are more available jobs as a payroll director. Employment prospects are best for those who have more extensive experience, and an advanced degree in business or finance. As payroll directors serve at the executive level, there is likely only one position in each company, making the directorship a highly sought after job, with strong competition and many applicants for a somewhat limited number of positions.
Those starting out with a career goal of becoming a payroll director may seek opportunities in larger companies with payroll departments and tiered levels of payroll management, learning different aspects of the workings of the corporate payroll structure. Prospects for obtaining employment in lower level positions are good, and working in such positions is one way of gaining necessary skills to climb the corporate ladder. Alternatively, an individual may start out working in a smaller company where they gain knowledge of the overall working of the payroll system. Entering in the field in either manner will provide experience and lead to opportunities and available positions as a director or manager of a payroll department.
Once an individual begins a career in the area of payroll implementation and management, additional experience will generally provide opportunities for advancement within the organization. In companies with more than one physical plant, or in large corporations with many divisions or subsidiaries, the payroll director may move internally from one division to another, may be elevated to a higher level of directorship, or may assume responsibilities for other financial aspects of the company. Some payroll directors may advance to other similar positions within the company, such as human resources director. Prospects for advancement may also include moves from smaller companies to larger companies or from one job to another more lucrative position which offers greater responsibilities, requires greater skills, and commands a higher salary.
Tips for Entry
Join the American Payroll Association, as well as the state or local chapter of the APA in your area to take advantage of membership opportunities, job postings, conferences, and education.
If just entering the profession, get Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC); when pursuing advancement, seek and maintain certification as a Certified Payroll Professional (CPP).
Attend conferences and educational opportunities to develop and share “best practices” and new ideas.
Network at every opportunity with other payroll directors and managers, and human resource professionals from within and outside your own field and organization; they are a great resource for career opportunities.