What’s a Payroll Specialist? Job Duties, Salary, and More

Payroll specialists, also known as payroll clerks, have a range of responsibilities, but their main objective is to ensure that employees get paid accurately and on time. They also handle various tax-related tasks and administrative duties.

In this blog post, we’ll take an in depth look at what a payroll specialist does, why every business needs them, and more. Let’s get started!

What is a Payroll Specialist?

In short, an experienced payroll specialist is responsible for all aspects of a company’s payroll. This includes preparing and issuing paychecks, calculating payroll-related taxes and deductions, and ensuring that employees are paid on time. Depending on the company, payroll specialists may also keep track of employee hours, sick leave, and vacation time.

Responsibilities of a Payroll Specialist

The job duties of a payroll specialist can vary depending on the size of the company they work for. In general, however, they will be responsible for:

  • Calculating employee wages and salaries
  • Withholding taxes and other deductions from paychecks
  • Preparing and distributing paychecks
  • Communicating with employees about their paychecks or statements
  • Maintaining accurate payroll records
  • Complying with all applicable payroll laws and regulations

Top Skills of a Payroll Specialist

A payroll specialist is responsible for handling all financial transactions related to an employee’s pay. This includes calculating wages, processing employee payments, and preparing tax returns.

As such, a successful payroll specialist will need strong math and data entry skills. They must also be able to work accurately and efficiently and to follow complex rules and regulations. Payroll specialists must also be able to communicate effectively with employees, managers, and other stakeholders. Other payroll specialist skills include:

  • Strong attention to detail, especially regarding payroll transactions
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to work independently
  • Knowledge of payroll software programs
  • Competency in Excel and other Microsoft products


Payroll specialists typically work in accounting or human resources departments. They may have a bachelor’s degree in accounting, business, finance, or a related field. Some employers may also require payroll specialists to have experience in payroll processing or accounting.

Pay and Job Outlook

According to, the average yearly compensation for a payroll specialist is $53,270. But with experience and additional training, payroll specialist can earn up to $60,362 a year on average.

Due to the increasing complexity of payroll and human resource processes as well as the need for compliance with new labor laws, the employment of payroll specialists projected to grow at a fast pace. For this reason, prospective payroll experts and hiring managers may see a jump in the average compensation for this position. In fact, payroll specialist salaries have already increased 11% in recent years.

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Commonly Asked Interview Questions for a Payroll Specialist Role

  • Tell me about your experience with payroll processing.
  • What are your skills and experience with payroll software?
  • How extensive is your knowledge of payroll laws and regulations?
  • How would you handle a payroll error?
  • What is your experience with Microsoft Excel?
  • What do you think are the most important skills for a payroll specialist?
  • What do you believe are the biggest challenges that payroll specialists face?
  • How would you communicate with employees about payroll changes?
  • How well do you work with a team?
  • How well do you work independently?

Get Started on Hiring a Payroll Specialist Today

The role of a payroll specialist is crucial to the success of a business. They ensure that employees are paid accurately and on time, which helps to maintain employee morale and satisfaction.

If you’re looking to hire one of these in-demand professionals, contact us today! We’ll recruit, interview, and vet candidates for you.

Need a Payroll Specialist?

Contact us today. Questions? Call us toll-free: 855-485-8853