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Payroll clerk

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Summary of occupation

Payroll clerks calculate, prepare and distribute wages, taking into account overtime and deductions such as tax, Medicare levy, health insurance payments and superannuation. They receive and record invoices and arrange payments, prepare and send invoices to debtors, check and process loan applications, calculate and distribute wages and salaries, prepare reports of accounting activities and reconcile accounts. Payroll clerks work in all kinds of organisations around the state, from large city-based companies, to regional and remote businesses.

ANZSCO description: Prepares payroll and related records for  employee salaries and statutory record-keeping purposes.
Alternative names: Accounting Clerk, Accounts Clerk, Pay Clerk, Payroll Officer
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A payroll clerk needs:

  • an aptitude for maths
  • strong organisational skills
  • the ability to work as part of a team
  • the ability to meet deadlines
  • strong communication skills
  • sound computer skills
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Working conditions

Payroll clerks generally work in office environments and work during standard business hours. Part-time work is very common within this profession. The work of payroll clerks is usually supervised by accountants and their client contact is usually by telephone. In larger organisations, the duties of a payroll clerk may be divided among a number of different positions.

Payroll clerks are employed in a wide range of industries including finance, property, business services, manufacturing and government.

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Salary details

On average, payroll clerks can expect to earn between $1 000 and $1 249 per week ($52 000 and $64 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a payroll clerk develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Payroll clerks may use traditional record keeping methods such as ledger books and filing systems, or they may use computers and data management programs. As such, payroll clerks need to be familiar with a range of software packages, from word and data processors through to accounting programs. They may also spend a significant amount of their time on the phone, and may also need to be familiar with other office equipment such as photocopiers and fax machines.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as a payroll clerk without any formal qualifications and get training on the job. However, entry into this occupation may be improved by obtaining a qualification in accounts administration or a related field.

The Certificate III in Accounts Administration, Certificate III in Business Administration and Certificate IV in Accounting are offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisation throughout Western Australia.

You can also complete a traineeship.  The payroll and accounts clerk, accounts payable clerk, or accounting support officer traineeships usually take 12 months to complete.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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