The American Payroll Association, or APA, offers two levels of certification: the Certified Payroll Professional — CPP — and Fundamental Payroll Certification, or FPC. To attain certification, payroll professionals must possess the required payroll education and experience and pass an examination administered by the APA. Candidates for certification can complete the required courses and prepare for the examination through online training.
The APA offers online interactive sessions that operate like a virtual classroom. Instructors conduct training over the Web, allowing the participant to engage in exercises and ask questions while enjoying the convenience of learning at his own home or office. Courses include advanced payroll concepts, intermediate payroll concepts, payroll practice essentials and strategic payroll practices. Training is spread out over six to nine sessions, scheduled at specific dates and times.
The APA provides the option of Web-based training, which is supported by popular Web browsers. Participants receive a printed workbook to support their learning. "Fundamentals of Payroll" covers the skills, knowledge and abilities required for the Fundamental Payroll Certification exam. Ideal for payroll beginners, it includes all basic payroll topics. "PayTrain" covers the body of knowledge required for the Certified Payroll Professional exam. This e-learning option is also available through instructor-assisted online sessions.
Certified payroll professionals must maintain their certification through reexamination or continuing education. They can obtain credits by attending webinars, which are offered live or on-demand. Webinars may be a single presentation, or they may be segmented. They cover topics such as accounts payable, calculating paychecks, local income tax compliance, payroll issues and garnishments. The webinar consists of a speaker’s presentation and PowerPoint, PDF or other displays. Participants have 48 hours to view the webinar upon activating the link.
Online courses offer convenience to participants, who can choose the date and location of their training. Participants also save on travel time and costs. Online instructors bridge the gap with classroom sessions, providing regular feedback and assignments. They also respond to questions and offer clarification through discussion boards and online chats. Candidates for certification can choose to attend training through other educational providers, such as colleges, universities and training groups. APA has a list of approved providers that offer online payroll courses and seminars.
Payroll certification attests to the payroll professional’s level of knowledge, abilities and skills. A designation as CPP or FPC signifies payroll expertise, paving the way for career advancement, promotion and salary increases. The APA’s certification is an objective and valued credential. Candidates must not only complete the required courses but also prepare extensively for two to four months for the examination. Upon acquiring certification, they must also recertify after a specific number of years. Recertification signifies their commitment to continuous learning and self-development.
Rowena Odina has been writing handbooks, manuals and employee communication pieces since 2002 as part of her human resources management functions. She specializes in writing about human resources topics. She has a certificate in human resources management from Seneca College and a certificate in payroll management from the Canadian Payroll Association.