Payroll as a Profession


  • Positive growth in payroll jobs as sector ‘comes of age’
  • Demand for payroll talent continues

According to the latest report from leading recruiter AccountAbility, payroll has come of age as a profession.

Increases in both payroll job numbers and in salaries together with increasing demand from skilled candidates, has meant the sector now has its place in the sun.

“We have seen a particularly positive upswing in 2011 reflected in the Accountability Payroll Index for 2011,” said Ruairi Flynn, Managing Director of AccountAbility, Australia’s accounting support recruitment specialists.

Mr Flynn pointed to the continued growth in the payroll jobs sector and the demand for positions as the key factors.

The statistics

Since January 2009, the number of active payroll vacancies that AccountAbility has worked on has increased substantially quarter on quarter.

“The number of payroll related positions that AccountAbility sourced candidates for in Quarter 2 2011 was four times that of Quarter 1 2009,” said Mr Flynn.

This increase has continued through an economic downturn and its recovery. Mr Flynn pointed to a number of reasons for this including the efficiency of payroll teams and the critical nature of the role to an organisation.

Recession proof

Payroll headcounts don’t generally drop during downturns… payroll teams are normally very efficient and have little fat to trim.

Many companies have only one payroll person who remains critical to the overall functioning of the organisation so losing these people is just not an option.

“When the GFC hit in the latter end of 2008 the actual number of payroll candidates placed by AccountAbility continued to grow,” said Ruairi Flynn.  “This is because they were needed to calculate and make redundancy payments for staff who had lost their positions during the GFC.”

He said that as the economy has continued to experience volatility the skills shortage within payroll has become even more pronounced.

“Australian payroll positions demand knowledge of local taxes, awards and superannuation so attracting candidates from overseas does not help,” he said. “For the same reasons most companies have been reluctant to offshore their payroll functions.  There simply aren’t enough quality and experienced people within the sector leading to a marked increase in salaries for candidates with local experience.”

Hot Spots

In particular demand are:

  • candidates with strong systems experience (SAP and Oracle especially)
  • as companies return to pre-GFC headcount there has been a bigger demand for senior payroll candidates with system implementation experience as they look to improve their functionality within this discipline.

Change in demographic

The stereotypical perception of those that work within payroll has also shifted. Traditionally, payroll has been seen as a processing role often undertaken by females in the second half of their careers who have quite often worked with the same company and in the same position for 10, 15, 20 years +.

Today, more and more young professionals are seeking positions within payroll. This is partly because of the skills shortage detailed above and the associated opportunities and competitive salaries that come from it.

“It is also because payroll now offers considerable development within their careers,” says Mr Flynn. “In this sense it really has emerged. Most large companies will now have various streams of payroll seniority – from officer, through to supervisory, through to management.”

He said the development of payroll software has also seen an increase in the roles available for payroll specialists within system implementation. These opportunities have led to payroll coming of age as a profession.

What are the opportunities?

There seems to be no end to the increased demand for payroll candidates as there is not enough of an influx of experienced people in to the system.

“There are opportunities for candidates who have localised payroll knowledge and strong systems skills,” said Ruairi Flynn.

These are candidates who can now demand up to $70 – 80K per annum within medium to large businesses for processing positions and up to $130 – 150K for senior roles.


Share your thoughts via Facebook

Leave a Comment

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Loanemu October 14, 2015 at 7:55 pm

Good informative content is written to target the thinking person. This content is brain-challenging yet straightforward. The viewpoints are written with a lot of thought and prep work behind them.


Previous post:

Next post: