What Skills Do I Need to Become a Payroll Administrator?

Working in payroll can be a rewarding and interesting career; many assume this means simply writing checks every week or two weeks, yet there is much more involved with payroll administration than this. A payroll administrator needs to understand current laws regarding pay rates and benefits, and must be sure that the company is complying with tax laws as well.

A payroll administrator often needs to compile certain reports, either for internal use or for government compliance. They may also work with Human Resources when it comes to managing benefits and bonuses for employees. And a payroll administrator may also work with the IT department or others when it comes to deciding on software programs that handle payroll and benefits.

The payroll administrator may also have a staff working under him or her, and this too calls for interpersonal skills.

Being a payroll administrator means much more than just shuffling paperwork and writing out checks. So if you are thinking of a position in payroll and have your sights set on being an administrator, what skills will you need for this job overall? Consider a few quick tips in this regard.

Interpersonal Skills

You might not realize that you need interpersonal skills to be a payroll administrator; often it's assumed that payroll means working simply with your computer and the company's checking accounts. However, a payroll administrator needs to keep payroll information confidential, even from some executives in the office. A payroll administrator would never even hint at a person's salary and benefits to other workers and even to their own friends and family members.

A payroll administrator may also be part of a team environment that is working with payroll data for different reasons. A company may be looking to cut costs or may be looking to make personnel changes to a certain department. This means that the payroll data must be taken into consideration, which then also means that the payroll administrator must be willing to work with that team moving forward.

The payroll administrator may also have a staff working under him or her, and this too calls for interpersonal skills. It's important to monitor an employee's work to be sure it's on track, especially with payroll issues. Being late with the company's payroll or failure to comply with government regulations can have dire consequences, so a payroll administrator must be able to manage that department effectively.

Problem Solving

Because a payroll administrator may be involved in various problems and issues within the company, even outside the payroll department, he or she would need to be able to "see the big picture" and contribute to various problem solving scenarios. This means creative thinking and the ability to come up with various scenarios and suggestions in order to accomplish the objectives of others. If for instance a company simply needs to reduce payroll costs, the payroll administrator needs to quickly think of how this can be done over and above the obvious suggestion of cutting salaries. A payroll administrator needs to be familiar with all aspects of the payroll process in order to be able to make useful suggestions and contributions when it comes to problem solving.

Other Skills

Obviously a payroll administrator needs to have good organizational skills and a working knowledge of computer programs. They need to keep themselves organized so that they do not miss filing deadlines for tax forms and things such as these, and to make sure that a new employee's paperwork is handled correctly so that he or she is paid on time. Responsibilities such as these will mean that a payroll administrator must be organized, a self-starter, diligent, and discreet enough to handle the assignments involved with payroll.