For many years, the media have presented the typical career path for the school leaver: go to university, study for three to four years, get a degree, take a graduate position in a large firm and enjoy fast track promotion and salary increases. If this ever really was the reality for more than a handful of people, it certainly isn’t any more. In today’s more turbulent economy, financial cutbacks and squeezed profit margins have led to fewer graduate opportunities, and changes to the fees structure look set to deny thousands of people the opportunity to go to university.For many people, the best way to career advancement is to begin in an entry-level job with a company that understands the importance of investing in its people. Such companies will recognise the hard work and dedication shown by employees and allow them to further develop their skills and abilities, opening doors to professional qualifications that are often worth more in real terms than a university degree, as well as improved career and salary prospects in the future. This can mean that a person in a starter position in a field like payroll can become a fully qualified accountant over the course of time.
Typical skills requirements for an entry level job in payroll include good basic numeracy, administrative skills, good internet and computer technology skills and an ability to communicate well, both with fellow payroll colleagues and other company employees. The abilities to learn quickly and adapt to changing business and market conditions are also distinct advantages. Starter salaries vary significantly depending on level of experience and geographical location but entry level roles for those who don’t need too much training and can get up to speed quickly is typically in the £15k – £16k range.
Of course, this is merely the first step on the ladder and pay usually increases in line with experience and responsibility. After learning the ropes in an entry level payroll position, it should be possible to make the leap to a supervisory role and later specialist into a more nuanced field, included payroll analysis and management. If your company is supportive, you will hopefully find that you are able to study for professional qualifications like those from the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professions, which can boost your expertise and earning power.
For a lucky few, payroll jobs can be a gateway into a lucrative range of financial jobs from accountancy to finance management. Depending on the support available from your employer, there’s no telling how far you can go.
The author of this article is a part of a digital blogging team who work with brands like Hays.