As a consultant with a strong market focus on payroll within the South of England, I deal with a magnitude of clients, who in turn require different needs within their departments. Whether it be an SME with one Sole Payroll Manager, or a Global Blue-Chip firm backed by a team of 30 Payroll Administrators with an extensive senior management team, there is no set way in which businesses operate their payroll function.
The reason for this opening paragraph is to demonstrate the sheer amount of choice that you, the individual, has over the direction you wish to take in order to progress your career. As a result of your professional career being a large factor in everyday life, it is paramount to have choice over how you work. Due to this, the purpose of this article is to demonstrate just how many distinct opportunities the payroll world can provide you with, and how to join it.
How to Get Started
There is no way around it – payroll is a numbers game. If you have a keen interest for mathematics, a number of companies will be happy to give you the chance regardless of prior professional experience. Gone are the days of manually filling out paper timesheets and payslips (although not entirely!), payroll is highly analytical and requires strong attention to detail, so if this sounds like you, it may just be for you. Many clients I work with offer in-house systems training and will do everything they can to get your base knowledge up to speed as you begin your journey.
How to Progress
If you’re doing the right things, the possibilities from junior-level upward are fantastic. With proven experience at the Assistant/Executive/Administrator level, you can expect to be in the bracket for specialist roles in no time, which will of course boast increased salary, duties and with this – expectations. I think this can be said for everyone, a promotion at work can never be deemed a bad feeling, right?
A Split Path
As you progress through the mid-level of payroll, there are a magnitude of routes you can apply yourself to, based around your personal preferences and aspirations. Perhaps you see yourself more as a people manager? There’s a Team-Leader role for that. More of the problem solving type? The need for Payroll Analysts is only becoming more prevalent. Looking to get hands-on and take ownership over the payroll? Smaller businesses often have fewer members of staff dealing with their end-to-end function.
But it doesn’t stop there. There are opportunities to take your skill set global, especially with larger firms who operate worldwide. Not only does this increase your experience, it also offers the premise of travel with work, an appealing thought to many. If this sounds like it ticks the boxes, perhaps look into the EMEA, APAC or LATAM routes. Having said this, travel is not a direct product of working on an international scale, so don’t let this put you off should you still want to follow this path.
Alternatively, there is the opportunity to apply your trade to the world of outsourcing, working for a payroll bureau or a firm of accountants. With this choice, you can expect to accurately process the payroll function for numerous clients of differing volumes. This in itself will offer a varied career.
Reaching the Top
As payroll is such a technical and important function of every running business, departments need driven leaders at the helm. This ensures processing is accurate and on time, subsequently maintaining the morale of employees. The senior-level market will offer Payroll Manager/Head of Payroll positions, in which you can be responsible for the management of dozens of employees, often managing high-volume payrolls. This may seem daunting, but it can result in amazing job satisfaction knowing how much of a key function you play within a company.
As an aside from this, there is also the consultant route, in which you may work on a temporary basis for companies with the likes of systems implementations or transfers. These roles are suited well to those with prior experience of dealing with numerous systems, where in-house implementation has been developed over their career.
Although not essential, the CIPP is a recognised institute, specialised for the payroll world. Identifying and demonstrating the calibre of payroll professionals, it offers a range of courses for individuals of every level. Perhaps it could be for you?
Original Author, James Wisener