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Career Change

I recently began doing payroll for my employees. I've discovered I really enjoy this type of work. I have a bachelor's in psychology and a masters in counselling.

I want to begin doing payroll for a career. What certifications or classes do I need? I have been looking at virtual classes on APA Especially the essentials for payroll, I am currently calculating everything that the course description includes. Additionally, Is it possible to do payroll for other businesses without a certification?

Thanks in advance! I appreciate any insight.



  • CPP certification. Get the Payroll Source Book by the American Payroll Association.

  • Join a local payroll chapter. You can find them on the website. Join the APA, sign up for the APA list service. Join sites like this, there are many free webinars available. In this field you must read, read, read and network and education yourself as much as possible.

  • Littler, Mendelsohn ( a law firm) also offers free webinars. Epstein, Goldstein has a free newsletter.

  • Thanks for the information. I will look into these.

  • If I were to get certified, would it be better to start with my FPC? I see on the American Payroll Association, you must have a couple of years experience to sit for the CPS exam.

  • An FPC is better then nothing. However even if you cannot get a CPP today, you really need to know most everything in the Payroll Source Book, so I would recommend getting that book and studying now. At my last job I bought a copy for everyone of my payroll staff, even though I did not expect any of them to take the exam. I told them to try looking up the answer in The Book before talking to me, and that I was going to hold them responsible for knowing everything in The Book.

  • I agree with David about getting the CPP certification. However, there are some minimum requirements needed to sit for the exam. Here's a link to APA website outlining the different qualification options (you'll need to copy and paste into your browser since I can't get the insert link button to work).

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