How to Become a Payroll Officer in Australia

How to Become a Payroll Officer in Australia

A payroll officer is a person responsible for calculating and distributing payroll to employees of a company. While they do not set salary levels, they are responsible for the processing of the salary and ensuring that payroll taxes are remitted. Additionally, they prepare monthly, quarterly and yearly payroll statements for the company, which are a very important part of the financial annual report. They need to ensure that all government regulations are complied with, along with providing government reporting. Employee payment mechanisms vary from company to company, so they could issue checks or directly deposit the salary to the employee bank accounts.

Payroll officers are no strangers to collecting data and juggling changes. They ensure that all payroll information remains current and that all employees get the right amount of money in a timely manner. It is also not uncommon for them to advise employees on filling out paperwork related to the payroll, explaining anything connected with the salary that they might not understand. It's a top-notch entry-level finance position that can take you places.

Are you well-organised? Do you enjoy structure and added responsibility? Maybe you're meticulous when performing everyday tasks? If that's the case, the position of a payroll officer might just be the right choice for you. Here is a detailed guide on what you need to do to make it happen!

Step 1: Enroll in a Payroll Programme

Since there is usually no strict requirement for getting a job as a payroll officer, vocational training can suffice. It would be great if you enrol in a course that would help teach you the necessary government policies and the intricacies of working as one. These courses typically cover all policies you need to be aware of, in addition to teaching you to use payroll software to keep track of data. Some firms also provide initial training to teach new hires how to perform all tasks. As a different option, you could get a certificate in business or financial services, as that can also give you an upper-hand. 

Step 2: Study Finance or Economics

While a Bachelor or Masters degree is not a strict pre-requisite, some companies prefer to hire employees who have completed undergraduate or postgraduate studies in related fields. If you decide to go this route, check out business, finance, financial services, accounting or economics courses. At the end of the day, any of them will easily prepare you for the job at hand.

Step 3: Get Hired

After you've gained some knowledge on how to do the job, it's time to work on polishing your CV and preparing for the interview. Highlight any experience you have with tasks requiring good organisation and communication skills, as well as those that showcase the level of your attention to detail. Getting a chance to try your hand at a new position is a challenge in any industry, so don't let that discourage you. Be professional, show you're motivated and you're bound to see results.

Step 4: Don't Get Cosy

Today's world changes fast and you will need to keep up. That means you will need to stay informed on any policy changes that might affect the way you compile data or work on reports. Maybe you can look into more efficient software or devise a simpler way of reporting. At the end of the day, it's up to you how your career path will play out. Staying on top of things will definitely help you perform better and will be reflected in your own salary as well. 

What Does a Payroll Officer Do?

A payroll officer keeps all payroll information confidential and updated. They compose payroll reports on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis, as well as governmental ones when necessary. Through the special payroll software, the officer makes notes on any status changes for employees. They are responsible for salaries being paid out in the correct amount and on time. Also, they resolve any pay discrepancies when they happen. They ensure all salary-related taxes are paid and all government policies complied with. 


  • Processing all payroll transactions
  • Updating payroll information
  • Conducting payroll administration
  • Generating reports on earnings, taxes and deductions, leave and disability and non-taxable earnings
  • Calculating employee federal and state income, social security taxes, unemployment and workers compensation
  • Helping clear all payroll discrepancies
  • Generating operational and financial reporting
  • Generating internal and external reports 

Skills for Success

A good payroll officer has extraordinary organisation and communication skills. They are able to effectively juggle multiple processes at once, meticulously going over data. Additionally, they need to be great at compiling data into reports and ensuring no mistakes are made. This calls for a high degree of perfectionism and detail-oriented behaviour. They need to maintain professionalism at all times, as well as a certain amount of confidentiality in relation to their tasks. Being a good accountant and mathematician can also be of great help. 


  • Professionalism and communication
  • Perfectionism and detail-oriented approach
  • Time management
  • Multitasking skills
  • Process structuring
  • Reporting
  • Knowledge of policies and regulation
  • Organisation and administration knowledge
  • Computer-savviness
  • Researching and filing

Average Salaries

What is the average annual salary of a Payroll Officer in Australia? In Australia, the average salary of a Payroll Officer is around $60,817 per year. This varies greatly depending on experience and is intended as a reference only, from Payscale 04/19.
min $48 K
max $75 K
av $61 K