Payroll Manager How to Hire, Salary Data, and Job Descriptions

A payroll manager oversees the payroll department and is responsible for preparing and distributing employee payments. They maintain payroll records, calculate taxes, and balance payroll accounts. They ensure payroll procedures are followed and must comply with all federal and state laws, regulations, and payroll tax obligations. They must be able to meet crucial deadlines and ensure payroll expenses and taxes are paid correctly and on time. They manage payroll systems and must be proficient with timekeeping and payroll software, such as SAP, ADP, Kronos, and MS Office. 

Payroll managers should have excellent analytical and organizational skills. Good leadership qualities and excellent communication skills are also required. They need to be detail-oriented and good with numbers. They must be familiar with tax regulations, deductions for benefits, charitable contributions, retirement contributions, and other savings. They must keep up-to-date on any changes to these contributions as well. Payroll managers typically work closely with the human resources and accounting departments and work in almost all industries.

Sample job description #1

Essential job functions

  • Supervises Payroll staff and ensures the accuracy and timeliness of the biweekly and off-cycle payrolls and produces related payroll reports. Reviews edit reports and balancing reports. Ensures direct deposits, paychecks, and bank files are complete and accurate. Prepares and posts payroll related journal entries
  • Runs standard payroll reports and writes custom payroll reports and queries. Coordinates the interface of Kronos data into other software systems
  • Provides exceptional customer service and support to all users of Kronos including one-on-training and creation of user training and reference materials
  • Researches payroll regulatory changes. Attends the appropriate education to ensure knowledge base is kept up to date. Monitors and reacts to changes in Internal Revenue Service requirements regarding payroll. Conducts staff training for changes in these requirements, and changes in the payroll processing software. Communicates with other departments and management of significant issues that require coordination between departments to ensure
  • Balance the quarter and year-end payroll records for accuracy and completeness for w-2 purposes
  • Updates Payroll Policies and Procedures as needed when the environment or regulatory changes mandate.
  • Consistently review work for process improvement
  • Must be able to maintain employee trust and protect operations by keeping information confidential
  • Role models the principles of a Just Culture and Organizational Values
  • Perform other duties as assigned. Must be HIPAA compliant

Experience

  • Hospital payroll experience preferred
  • Must have strong knowledge and experience with (1) payroll policies and procedures, (2) federal and state payroll statutes, (3) payroll record keeping and reporting requirements and procedures, (4) bookkeeping and accounting including reviewing, posting, balancing, and reconciling financial records
  • Must be able to research and analyze regulatory updates and other information impacting the payroll system and to coordinate the implementation of required changes to Kronos
  • Must be able to work independently to plan and prioritize own workload while maintaining exceptional accuracy within strict deadlines
  • Must be able to work as part of a team with a strong sense of urgency, reliability, and flexibility
  • Must be able to maintain employee trust and protect operations by keeping information confidential
  • Must have significant experience with basic methods and practices of software testing and implementation

Education

  • Graduation from an accredited college or university, with an Bachelor’s degree or higher is required
  • Accounting, Finance, Business, Economics or a related field of study is preferred

Certification

  • CCP designation preferred

Sample job description #2

Specific duties

  • Serves as key contact for all payroll matters
  • Ensures compliance with local, state, and federal labor laws in policies regarding payroll
  • Prepares, processes, and audits the semi-monthly payroll with over 400 faculty, staff, and student employees
  • Maintains payroll database and files for all employees
  • Enters new employee and time hours data into the Payroll/HRIS system
  • Manages and provides training for online timesheet preparation
  • Reviews time sheets, wage computation, and other data for accuracy
  • Validates receipt of proper documents authorizing payment
  • Processes off-cycle salary adjustments and terminations
  • Prepares payroll journal entries and to the general ledger
  • Provide audit support including Workers Compensation, 403b, and Financial Aid reporting

Requirements

  • 5+ years experience in payroll processing at a college/university or organization with multiple pay cycles and daily part-time shifts
  • Adherence to deadlines
  • Ability to maintain the highest level of confidentiality for all employee payroll and personnel records
  • Familiarity with International Tax Treaties and how to apply to international students
  • Prior experience with Paylocity and WebTime or other similar payroll systems and data entry
  • Strong time management, organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Excellent math and intermediate Excel skills

Sample job description #3

Responsibilities

  • Manages payroll processes, accurate and timely pay to associates – through management of Analysts and Coordinators, ensures the organization’s payroll workstreams are optimal and efficient. Oversees timely and accurate data collection and calculation, system uploads, issuance of paychecks and electronic transfers
  • Manages payroll research, analysis, and troubleshooting – oversees research, analysis, and troubleshooting of the organization’s payroll, including all payroll systems administration, and handling internal/external questions
  • Manages team – selects and hires, allocates work, trains, and develops, makes recommendations for personnel actions and compensation, and motivates associates. Manages and evaluates performance – sets goals and objectives for the team, and with individual associates
  • Ensures integrity and compliance for all payroll processes and procedures. Maintains associate confidence and protects payroll operations by keeping information confidential. Audits payroll results, ensuring legislative compliance and internal reporting requirements. Ensures SOX compliance for all processes and procedures

Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent (business, finance, accounting preferred). CPA or MBA preferred
  • 7+ years relevant experience
  • High level of proficiency in Microsoft Office and department’s Payroll/Accounting/Financial Systems
  • Extensive knowledge of the payroll function and familiarity with Workday payroll system and ADP AVS systems preferred
  • Ability to communicate clearly in both verbal and written form and relate effectively with others
  • Knowledge of applicable federal and state wage and hour laws
  • In-depth knowledge of payroll and accounting, including process, procedures, internal controls, and financial statements
  • Exceeds needs of customers (external, internal, and team members)
  • Demonstrates innovative thinking and problem solving/guides others in problem solving
  • Associate management skills, including developing, training and coaching team
  • Planning and resourcing skills – optimizes resources and workflow

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a payroll manager in the United States is $79,800. Salary will vary depending on location, industry, company, and size of organization.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$84,000$102,700
Los Angeles, California$94,800$115,850
Denver, Colorado$79,000$96,550
Washington, DC$96,200$117,600
Miami, Florida$78,600$96,100
Orlando, Florida$72,500$88,650
Tampa, Florida$73,250$89,500
Atlanta, Georgia$76,800$93,900
Chicago, Illinois$88,300$107,950
Boston, Massachusetts$95,500$116,700
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$76,100$93,000
New York City, New York$100,500$122,850
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$81,850$100,050
Dallas, Texas$79,700$97,400
Houston, Texas$79,350$96,950
Seattle, Washington$91,900$112,350
National Average$71,800$87,750

Sample interview questions

  • How would you respond to an employee who complains about errors in their paycheck? What steps would you take to investigate?
  • What do you do if you notice a mistake in the payroll that resulted in an employee being under or overpaid?
  • How do you go about forecasting next year’s payroll expenses?
  • Are you familiar with documenting guidelines to payroll processes?
  • What do you do if you see a stark gender pay gap in a specific department within the company?
  • What payroll software are you familiar with?
  • Have you worked with HRIS systems? If so, which ones?
  • How do you check your work for accuracy before submitting payroll?
  • What’s the best method of timekeeping for employees who do shift work?
  • What is included in local taxes withholdings?
  • What is the overtime pay rate for non-exempt employees?
  • How do you ensure deadlines are met?
  • Can you describe a time when you successfully managed a stressful situation?
  • What resources do you use to learn about new labor regulations?
  • What change to a payroll process have you made to streamline it? Was it successful?
  • How would you explain financial and insurance details to employees in simple terms?
  • What are the main differences between an employee and a contractor?
  • What is FICA, and how is it calculated?
  • Can you name some examples of voluntary deductions?
  • Which benefits are taxable?

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