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What is a Payroll Clerk?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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A payroll clerk is a member of the payroll department who focuses on activities that help to organize data related to providing compensation to the company's employees. As part of this process of handling the periodic payroll for the business, this person is often also responsible for calculating and applying various deductions to the amount of pay due to each employee. While the payroll process was once a completely manual task that involved a number of ledgers, most clerks today use payroll software.

The work of the payroll clerk is not confined to the preparation of payroll checks. In many cases, he or she will also monitor and record information that relates to the attendance of each employee. The clerk may also track other pertinent details, such as sales that are subject to commissions, bonus qualifications, the accumulation of personal or vacation days, and other factors that affect the overall compensation package for each employee.

It is not unusual for this employee to also handle other disbursements associated with the employee withholding. For example, he or she will arrange to forward tax withholdings to the proper federal and state agencies. In the event that union dues are withheld from the paycheck, the clerk will forward that money to the proper union address. The same is true in the case of withholding for savings accounts, retirement plans, and group health insurance.

Qualifications for working as a payroll clerk may vary, depending on the size of the company. Smaller companies may accept an individual who has basic accounting experience into the position. Generally, the company will provide additional training, either in the form of local college courses or an on the job training program. For work in larger firms, this employee usually will need at least an associate's degree in accounting, a year or two of experience with a smaller company, and some background in working with one or more payroll software programs.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including SmartCapitalMind, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By aviva — On May 21, 2011

@babylove - The duties of a data entry clerk as you know, transfers data from paper into the computer.

The accounting clerks duties are to calculate numbers and input those figures into the system.

It may be that because so many companies are downsizing today is why you are seeing both job descriptions combined under one ad.

One or the other will be taking on both job duties as the accounting data entry clerk. This saves the company money and in return allows the data entry clerk experience with accounting procedures, and room for advancement.

By babylove — On May 20, 2011

Are the duties of an accounting clerk the same or similar to those of a data entry clerk?

I'm just curious because lately I've been seeing more and more job listings for accounting/data entry clerks.

I was a data entry clerk for about 3 years but I don't remember any accounting involved.

By wizup — On May 19, 2011

Payroll clerk jobs are decreasing rapidly as companies are either downsizing or reducing costs by outsourcing. It might be easier to land a job with a smaller company who generally doesn't require a large payroll dept.

Office jobs are very competitive even for the most experienced payroll assistant. My advice for anyone trying to break into this field is to sharpen your skills, get some formal education if you can, and brush up your resume.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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