Professional certifications are an excellent way to compete for better jobs and advance your career. From technology to healthcare to business—almost every industry has certifications that help prove your skills and expertise to employers.
The accounting industry is no different. From CPA (Certified Public Accountant) to CMA (Chartered Management Accountant) to CPB (Certified Professional Bookkeeper)...there are many credentials you can earn to stand out and get ahead.
However, many of these certifications require a Bachelor’s degree plus several years of related work experience. What if you don’t have a degree, and want a faster way to start your accounting career?
A good alternative is earning a diploma in accounting and payroll—and getting certified as a Payroll Compliance Practitioner (PCP).
Entry-level jobs in accounting very often include payroll responsibilities. If you get hired as an accounting clerk or assistant, chances are, you’ll be helping prepare and process payroll each month.
So, what steps are involved in becoming a Payroll Compliance Practitioner, and is it really worth your time and effort? Here’s what you need to know.
What Exactly does “Payroll Compliance” mean?
Payroll compliance is all about understanding and following the laws that affect payroll—including how people are hired, fired, classified, and compensated. Businesses need to know the rules and follow them—or they’ll get fined.
In fact, many businesses all over the world end up paying non-compliance fines every year, because they failed to adhere to payroll legislation.
Payroll compliance can be very complex and is constantly evolving. It impacts many aspects of payroll operations, including:
- Salary and special incentives
- Sick leave
- Employee insurance
- Employee records and personal information
Companies need payroll officers who understand the law and how to apply it. They don’t just need people who can prepare and process payroll every month—they need people who can ensure the payroll system is compliant with the latest legislation.
A Payroll Compliance Practitioner (PCP) has been trained in the latest legislation, and is certified by the Canadian Payroll Association (CPA) to provide that service.
What do you need to earn Payroll Compliance Certification?
Employers trust PCP certification because to get it, you need a combination of training and real work experience.
To start, you must pass 3 payroll compliance courses, delivered by the Canadian Payroll Association:
1. Payroll Compliance Legislation (an introduction to payroll laws)
2. Payroll Fundamentals 1 (how to apply legislation to calculate and document all types of individual payments)
3. Payroll Fundamentals 2 (third-party remittances, including accounting, technical and year-end requirements)
You also need to complete an Introduction to Accounting course. But if you’re doing an Accounting and Payroll diploma, that course will probably be included in your program.
You can transfer the credit and apply it to your PCP certification. Just make sure the program you’re taking is accepted by the Canadian Payroll Association (check the list of approved colleges using this link).
Finally, you must complete 1 year of payroll work experience. Once you’ve done the courses and spent 1 year on-the-job, you can apply for the PCP certification.
Just remember: There is a time limit on this process. If you want to become a certified payroll compliance practitioner, you must complete the courses and work experience within a 5 year period.
What are the benefits of becoming a PCP?
Is becoming a payroll compliance practitioner worth your time? Well, for starters, the Canadian Payroll Association (CPA) is the only payroll organization of its kind in all of Canada.
They are the only ones granting payroll compliance certifications, and are considered the “gold standard” in payroll training. Employers trust this certification, and it’s often a requirement for positions in payroll.
Other benefits of certification include:
☑️ Membership with the CPA
☑️ Savings on additional training, seminars, and professional development workshops
☑️ Help understanding and applying the latest legislation (Payroll InfoLine service, compliance rates sheets, Best Practices Guidelines, publications, checklists and tools)
☑️ Invitations to networking events and the annual payroll conference
☑️ Job Connect services to help you find employment
According the CPA, certified payroll compliance practitioners have better career options and earn higher salaries (even when they’re just starting out after training).
Getting started with accounting and payroll training
If you’re interested in PCP certification, and have started researching accounting and payroll colleges, be sure to look for schools that are accepted by the Canadian Payroll Association.
At Herzing, our Accounting and Payroll program actually includes one of the courses you need to get certified. And our Introduction to Accounting course is also accepted as a transfer credit.
By the time our students graduate, they only have to complete 2 more courses to get certified (and finish one year of work experience).
You get a head start on becoming a certified payroll compliance practitioner, plus general knowledge of accounting principles, software, and payroll.
The skills you learn in training are enough to land a job as an accounting technician, payroll clerk, or bookkeeper.
Is a career in payroll right for you?
If you still have questions about accounting and payroll training, and want to confirm this career path is right for you, you need to speak with an Admissions Advisor.
Admissions Advisors are trained to match students with the right programs. They will talk with you about your strengths, goals, and learning needs. An Advisor can also answer any questions you have about the diploma program, class schedule—or figuring out how to pay for school.
Make a list of accounting schools you like. Talk with an Advisor at each school to compare programs, and find the training that fits you best.
You can chat live with an Admissions Advisor right now.
Or click below to browse the Accounting and Payroll program at Herzing College Toronto.