Thinking of hiring a payroll trainee?

On this page, we tell you about the role and duties of a payroll trainee. This person is usually at the very beginning of a payroll career and may have little to no experience in an office environment. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as it provides an opportunity to teach good practices and allows individuals to develop skills according to the needs of the business.

What does a payroll trainee do?

A trainee is generally learning to take on the responsibilities of a payroll clerk, but also has to pick up many habits useful in the workplace, so there is much for them to learn and develop during their time with a business.

Trainees should work underneath the guidance of an experienced payroll clerk or the head of payroll, at least in their early period. To hire the best candidate for your company it is important to learn about the duties a trainee may undertake and the kinds of skills they may wish to develop.

  • Time Management – Every trainee will want to learn how to manage their time well. For payroll tasks to be completed promptly it is important that stages of that task are finished on time. Candidates can demonstrate this skill with examples of success, either in their spare time or at work.
  • Maths Competence – Any individual who looks for a career in payroll should really demonstrate some level of competence in mathematics. The level to which they have studied is not too important, there are many qualifications possible, and we cover some key certifications in the next section.
  • Industry knowledge – During their time at work your trainees will develop their knowledge of the industry as well as information about your own particular business too. They will also learn of the most important legislation regarding payroll so that they can work within the best of their abilities. The best candidates for a trainee position will usually demonstrate their knowledge of the portfolio industry in general.
  • Computer skills – Trainees will need to learn how to use a variety of programs, this could include competence to enter information on time management or human resources programs such as SAP, and competence to use standard payroll software such as SAGE.


Though no industry standard for qualifications exists for payroll trainees, a number of qualifications do exist which may indicate a brilliant candidate. Examples to look out for include:

  • IAB Level 1 Certificate in Payroll
  • IAB Level 1 Award in Bookkeeping
  • AAT Certificate in Bookkeeping
  • GSCEs, A levels or BTEC national diplomas in maths and related subjects
  • CIPP qualifications and continuing professional development

Of course, these kinds of qualifications are always changing, so in order to know which qualifications are relevant and legitimate it is important to stay up to date with the industry, by conducting research, reading through newsletters, and contacting qualification providers.

Now that you understand that a payroll trainee is a beginner in the field who can help with the majority of office tasks, you may want to think about recruitment for a position.

Fill a payroll trainee vacancy

When time comes to select an appropriate candidate for the position, we can help you.

Our experts can do the field work, sorting through thousands of CVs and conducting tests to find the very best candidates for you to interview.

Our services have been at the root of many successful recruitment drives for positions in payroll. It's because of these services that Portfolio Payroll is the only payroll recruitment agency which the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP) recommend.

To speak with us, email or call 020 7247 2882 to get help for any questions you have.

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