Payroll, or compensation, managers are in charge of ensuring that everyone's pay is correct. While a bachelor's degree is required, many payroll managers have a master's degree in human resources or finances and relevant work experience. Median annual salary for a payroll manager, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $89,270 as of May 2010. The BLS projects job growth for payroll managers at 3 percent between 2010 and 2020, which compares to a 14 percent average for all other U.S. occupations.
Employee Pay Structure
Payroll managers create a company's pay structure. To establish objective criteria for pay rates, a payroll manager typically buys industry-standard salary surveys. She uses these to compare her company's established pay rates with competitors or, in the case of a new company or a new position, to establish rates that will allow her company to recruit top talent. Along with being competitive, pay structures must meet legal standards, such as state and federal minimum wage provisions. Once pay structures are in place, the payroll manager monitors current market conditions, such as looking at job advertisements, to make sure her rates remain competitive.
Payroll managers use spot checks and audits to ensure payroll distributions are correct and timely. A single area, such as compliance with government regulations, might be the focus of an audit. Alternatively, she might pull a smaller sample taking a comprehensive top-to-bottom look, making sure pay is correct, that all jobs pay within the correct salary band and that annual raises and bonuses have been correctly distributed.
At times, a payroll manager might have to perform complex data analyses to answer a question from senior management, such as "Have pay rates over the past 10 years exceeded cost of living changes?" In these situations, he must sort through large data sets to identify relevant data and calculations to provide the best answer. These managers crunch numbers to compare market trends to their own organization, using financial and database software to produce accurate results.
A payroll manager spends a large part of her day writing reports, summarizing trends, answering questions and creating progress reports. She presents new ideas to senior management, such as designing a new incentive structure for awarding bonuses. Because she manages her own staff of specialists and support personnel, she writes performance reviews. As a department manager, she prepares her own department’s budget and writes progress reports to ensure that she is staying within her bottom line.