Payroll Administrator Training

From being responsible for the administration of payroll for a small local firm, to being a payroll administrator for a massive firm, an aspiring administrator will require a certificate of payroll administrator training, with significant experience required to work at larger companies. Payroll administration is challenging and rewarding, with the opportunity to observe facets of many other roles, meaning that there is significant opportunity for upward career progression within finance, accounting and HR. It is popular, partly because of the progression opportunities, but also because it is often done part time due to the cyclical nature of the role; it is a great deal busier in the final weeks of a month because of payroll processing.

Training Courses

There are a number of business programs and training courses available in most areas, with a great number of these offering either a course in payroll administration or a combined course with accounting. A typical course lasts three to six months, and will require full-time attendance for the full duration. There do tend to be part-time options available though, which extend the length of the qualification up to a year or more. The average price for such a course ranges between $2000 and $3000, and prerequisites tend to be successful graduation from secondary school and basic competence with computers, including Microsoft Excel; previous experience working with the full suite of Microsoft applications is also an advantage. A few colleges offer basic IT training online for those who need to improve their skills before embarking on a course. Once done, students will usually require access to a home computer in order to complete the requirements of a course.

Course Contents

A great deal of payroll administrator training centres around keeping effective records on Microsoft Excel, whether they be of staff hours, documentation for starters and leavers, or payroll records. Regardless of location, price or certification, every training course should also include the following components:

  • Specific Microsoft Excel training – learning about effective record keeping, data management and formulae
  • Provincial and Federal tax systems and deductions – this includes calculating tax, including insurable and pensionable amounts, as well as recording EI, CPP and income tax
  • Payroll training, including some examples of bookkeeping software
  • Records of employment, including organizing and documenting pay terms and information for employees, such as bank details, increments and certificates of termination for employee tax purposes
  • Understanding pay structures, including statutory extras such as maternity and sickness
  • An introduction to Sage Accounting software (not essential)
  • Basic HR training, including record keeping, regulations and employee management

Of course, there will be a requirement to submit assignments during the course, and you may have to undertake exams in order to achieve certification.


The typical certification for payroll administrator training is a diploma. It is sometimes possible to use the certificate as a way to progress on to other business programs, such as accounting or financial management, although experience as a payroll administrator would be expected prior to making this step. A diploma in payroll administration is recognized and respected throughout Canada and the US, so it is a valuable and rewarding training program to undertake.


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