How to make the jump from payroll specialist to payroll manager

A handshake between two people


If you’re enjoying a career in Payroll, you’re most likely an efficient analytical thinker with a natural talent for numbers and a genuine penchant for handling data. However, if you feel that you’ve progressed as far as you can in your role as a payroll specialist, then becoming a Payroll Manager could be the next step for you – but how do you know you’re ready?

To help answer this question, we spoke to Eira Hammond – Chair of the board of directors for the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP) – as well as providing our own advice. If you feel you’re ready for the leap to management, get in touch today and one of our team members will be happy to help!


What does a payroll manager do?

Becoming a Payroll Manager will require you to handle more responsibility and take command of a payroll team.

This role will involve delivering training and supervision to provide your team with all the knowledge they’ll need to ensure legislative compliance.

It will be your job to liaise with HR, and to address any issues with payroll that employees may experience.


How do I know I’m ready for management?

When deciding whether to enter a management role, there will be always be a variety of questions running through your head – usually coupled with self-doubt. However, you could be ready for management if you:

  • Want to help people learn and develop.
  • Desire to pass on your knowledge to other individuals within the company.
  • Gain enjoyment from seeing others enjoy their jobs and doing them well.
  • Have positive relationships with people throughout the company.
  • Are respected by others within the organisation and consulted for advice.
  • See the potential in helping the company function as a whole.

In contrast, if you want to progress to management for higher pay and to enforce a few rules, you need to rethink whether or not you’re ready.

Eira also touched on this when discussing career advancement. Adding that a person should also think about the ramifications of their new role – deciding if they are ready for the new challenges ahead. She states:

“Whatever role comes up, whether contract, full time, permanent or temporary, you absolutely have to have confidence in your own experience and ability. You have to think seriously about the role, and each element of what you will be required to do and think through all your experience to determine whether you will manage to fulfil the requirements.”


What skills do I need as a payroll manager?

Becoming a payroll manager requires a range of skills. Some you will have already acquired through your job as a payroll specialist. However, we have detailed the three most important here:

  • Excellent communication and people management skills

Becoming a payroll manager will require you to handle more responsibility and take command of a payroll team. This involves supervising employees and learning to help develop them. It will also be your job to liaise with HR and address any issues which may arise.

If you wish to develop this skill, try to get in as much training and team leading in your company as possible.

  • Forward thinking with industry knowledge

As a payroll manager, you will be creating payroll policies and procedures of your own, so you need outstanding knowledge of the industry. You can develop this skill by looking for ways to increase the efficiency of your current payroll practice. Furthermore, industry events can be an excellent way to gain wider knowledge of how other organisations approach payroll.

Finally, CIPP qualifications can be beneficial to expanding your payroll knowledge.

  • Organisational skills and time management

This almost goes without saying, but excellent organisational and time management skills are vital for any manager. As well as this, you’ll have to submit reports to the accounting department, balance the accounts, and submit managerial reports on time. Alongside that, you’ll have to manage your own time and prioritise tasks as and when they emerge.

To develop this, look for ways to improve your own efficiency or make policies in your own company run a little smoother. With trial and error, you can start identifying what works.

The importance of networking was also stated by Eira, adding:

“Make sure you build your network of contacts on a regular basis; if you attend a training course, get to know the trainer and the other delegates and connect with them; do the same with meetings and conferences.  Join groups and forums on social media and have your say; get noticed for your positive contributions and you never know when or where the next opportunity might come along.  And lastly, give something back; if you can help people new into payroll learn more, by being a mentor or coach, then do.  You could consider being a tutor or speaking at an event or writing an article for an industry magazine, then offer to do so.  These are all ways of improving your profile which will go a long way in getting recruiters to think about you when new roles come up!”


How much does a payroll manager make?

Although money must never be a primary factor when looking to advance, it is still an important area. Depending on where you’re based, this figure can vary. All this information is contained in our salary survey but, in brief, a payroll manager can expect to earn:

  • Up to £70,000 per annum in Central London
  • Up to £60,000 per annum in the West Midlands
  • Up to £55,000 per annum in the South East
  • Up to £48,000 per annum in the South West
  • Up to £55,000 per annum in Greater Manchester
  • Up to £48,000 per annum in East England
  • Up to £55,000 per annum in Scotland
  • Up to ££44,000 per annum in Wales
  • Up to £50,000 per annum in the North East

View Our Resources

SMEs lack knowledge to provide successful HR

Small businesses in the UK are leaving themselves open to unnecessary risks when hiring new more

Employees should receive assistance in retirement planning

A report from Barclays suggests the amount retirees need to earn each year to secure a “ more

Pension auto-enrolment

If your business employs between 500 and 50,000 people, forthcoming changes will require you to more

Recruitment for pension administrator jobs

With pension auto-enrolment now mandatory, it is more important than ever for your business to more