How to Become a Payroll Manager in the UK


Do you have outstanding numeric and managerial skills and aspire to serve in a highly responsible position? You should consider becoming a payroll manager. These professionals work in various settings where they keep well updated records regarding workers’ taxes, wages and benefits.

What Do Payroll Managers Do?

As a payroll manager, it is your duty to:

  • Manage computer systems and software
  • Create payroll policies and processes
  • Offer advice on pay and tax laws
  • Supervise and train the payroll team
  • Check and audit payroll to ensure adherence to the set regulations
  • Evaluate and report on fiscal data
  • Pay employees
  • Balance payroll accounts by resolving any payroll inconsistencies
  • Maintain payroll staff by recruiting, orienting, selecting, and training them
  • Maintain payroll workers’ output by disciplining and counseling employees; monitoring, planning and evaluating job results


Earnings for payroll managers depend on their employer and level of expertise.

Level of service


Median annual salary

Starting manager



Experienced manager



Senior manager

20 percent discount
20 percent discount




To succeed as a payroll manager, you need to have the following imperative qualities:

  • Supervisory experience
  • Outstanding project management skills
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Experience with ADP and ERP systems
  • Service orientation
  • Diligent attention to detail
  • Ability to work under pressure to meet tight deadlines
  • Excellent people skills
  • Excellent bookkeeping skills
  • Ability to give problems an organized approach
  • Excellent IT and math skills
  • Problem-solving and logical thinking ability
  • Confidentiality


For entry levels, payroll managers are required to have at least five years of payroll experience. Employers are more interested in your experience, skills and industry awareness than your formal qualifications. Therefore, candidates with a strong grasp of payroll legislation have a competitive advantage.

Completing a qualification offered by the CIPP or the IAB might improve your employability and provide you with crucial training in various courses such as:

  • IAB Certificate and Diploma in Payroll or Computerized Payroll
  • CIPP National Payroll Certificates
  • CIPP Practitioner Certificate in payroll, Advanced Practitioner Certificate in Payroll and Diploma in Payroll

The above certificate and diploma programs can be taken in combination with a foundation degree or bachelor’s degree in Payroll Management. Usually, payroll managers receive on-the-job training. Other majors in related fields such as accounting. HR and business administration are also helpful.

These candidates might get employment right after graduation but most of them start from junior positions such as an assistant or clerk and work their way up as they gain perfect job skills and cultivate strong relationships with their colleagues and bosses. Many organizations such as they provide their payroll managers with certification as a proof for their competency. This certification is awarded after they gain a three years’ experience and pass a qualifying exam. There are also many organizations that provide career progression opportunities for payroll managers. With more years of experience and proper credentials, a payroll manager might finally become an executive or even a lead HR supervisor in a company.

Career Prospects

Every well-established trade needs a payroll manager. This is because each company, regardless its size, requires to manage employees’ salaries. The NCS predicts that there will be about 2,230,000 jobs for payroll managers in the UK by 2020. These job openings are publicized through recruitment agencies as well as the local press.

If you are good with numbers and aspire to serve in a managerial position, you should consider this career!