APA certification is a valuable, objective credential that verifies a specified level of knowledge, skills, and abilities in the payroll profession. Certification helps individuals demonstrate their payroll expertise, secure promotions, advance their careers, and enhance their standing within the profession.

APA offers two levels of certification -- the Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) and the Certified Payroll Professional (CPP). The exams are administered at more than 300 locations throughout the United States and Canada. (Please see below for Military and International Testing opportunities)

It is the responsibility of each examination candidate to download and read the applicable FPC or CPP Examination Candidate Handbook. Exceptions will not be made for candidates that do not read the handbook.

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Certified Payroll Professional (CPP)

The CPP is a certification credential for those with payroll knowledge and experience.

Overview information

Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC)

The FPC is a certification credential for payroll beginners and service and support professionals with payroll knowledge. There are no payroll experience requirements to take this exam.Overview information

Exam Windows - Northern Americas

Fall - Sep 13 - Oct 11, 2014 - registration opens 7/15/14
Spring - Mar 28 - Apr 25, 2015 - registration opens 1/15/15

Candidates testing September 13, 2014 through October 11, 2014 will be tested on federal tax laws and regulations in effect on January 1, 2014.

Candidates testing March 28, 2015 through April 25, 2015 will be tested on federal tax laws and regulations in effect on January 1, 2014.

Mid-year changes are NOT reflected on the exams.

Learning Center Testing Opportunities

Attendees of Payroll 101: Foundations of Payroll Certificate Program and Payroll 201: The Payroll Administration Certificate Program at APA's Learning Centers in Las Vegas and San Antonio will have the opportunity to take their respective certification exam at the end of each course. Yes, that means year-round!

If you wish to take the exam at the conclusion of APA's Payroll 101 or Payroll 201 course, DO NOT make exam reservations through Pearson Vue. Candidates can register through APA's website for the course. The examination fee can also be paid online with course registration. If you are unable to pay for the examination online, please submit the PR101 Exam Registration or the PR201 Exam Registration form to [email protected] , in the subject line enter: Exam Registration Form. If you have any questions about registration or paying for the exam, please contact the Certification Department by e-mail or call (210) 226-4600.

The Payroll 101 and Payroll 201 courses should not be considered the only method of study for these exams. These testing opportunities are only recommended as a review for candidates that have already studied and are ready to take the exams. Successful candidates who shared their study secrets with us have indicated that they engage in a minimum of 6 to 12 weeks of preparation before taking the FPC exam and a minimum of 3 to 4 months before taking the CPP exam.

The Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) exam is available on the Friday afternoon at the conclusion of all Payroll 101: Foundations of Payroll Certificate Program courses in Las Vegas and San Antonio. Advance registration is required.

The Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) exam is available on Friday afternoon at the conclusion of all Payroll 201: The Payroll Administration Certificate Program courses in Las Vegas and San Antonio. Advance registration is required.

International Testing Opportunities

The APA administers the FPC and CPP exams at over 180 locations internationally. For complete registration instructions, fees and how to find international testing locations, candidates can download the FPC or CPP Candidate Handbook. Examinations are delivered ONLY in English and are based on U.S. federal rules and regulations. After reading the Candidate Examiniation handbook and submitting and receiving approval of your application by the APA you may register for international testing with Pearson VUE.

Military Testing Opportunities

APA administers the FPC and CPP examinations at all DANTES locations in the United States through Pearson VUE. 100% of the cost of the Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) and Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) certification exams are approved for reimbursement to eligible military and certain family members through the G.I. Bill of the Department of Veterans Affairs. For detailed information, log onto their website at http://www.gibill.va.gov Download the Candidate Examination Handbook for complete registration instructions, fees and how to find testing locations.

Study and Training Resources

The candidate for certification is advised to consult a variety of sources to prepare for either of the certification exams. The exam handbooks contain a list of suggested references.

The candidate can obtain study materials from the APA and attend APA preparation courses. APA courses are also approved to achieve recertification. Training and resources are available in a variety of formats including books, training courses, Web-based training, and Local Chapter Study Groups.

On Demand Free Webinar - Prepare yourself for the CPP and FPC Exams

View this webinar at your convenience! Get the latest information and tips for preparing yourself to take these exams. After clicking on the webinar link below, press the "Add To Cart" button for Product Code 14CER01R.
Prepare yourself for the CPP and FPC Exams

Approved Provider Program

For designees who need to obtain Recertification Credit Hours (RCHs) Effective September 1, 2006, APA has instituted an Approved Provider program for organizations that present payroll education.

Approved Providers: 2014 :: 2013 :: 2012 :: 2011 :: 2010 :: 2009
Approved Chapter Meetings: 2014 :: 2013 :: 2012 :: 2011 :: 2010 :: 2009

APA Transcript Requests

Complete and submit the transcript form to obtain a transcript of APA's National programs attended. Transcripts may take up to two weeks to process.

Employer Verification of Designation Requests

Potential and current employers can obtain verification of a candidates or employees designation by submit the completed employer verification form. Please allow 3 - 5 business days to receive verification.

Notification of Designation Requests

Successful candidates that would like the APA to notify their boss of their accomplishment can complete and submit the Request for Employer Notification form. Submit all requests to [email protected] Please allow 2 - 4 weeks for processing. Please allow at least five (5) business days from the date of examination before submission.

4 Easy Steps to Order Your Certificate and Lapel Pin

1. Log into the APA website using your APA ID Number and Password. You can obtain your APA ID and password by contacting Membership Services at [email protected] or by phone at 210-224-6406.

2. Verify, on the welcome line, the spelling of your name as you want it to appear on your certificate.

3. After verifying that your name is spelled correctly, stay logged into the APA website and click on the certification tab in the left panel (this is necessary for validation of

your designation).

4. Scroll down to the bottom of the certification page and click on either CPP or FPC. You will then be redirected to the ordering page where you can make your selections and place your order.

If you have any questions contact the certification department at [email protected] or 210-226-4600.


For CPP and FPC exams administered September 13, 2014 through September 18, 2015, questions should be answered based on Federal laws and regulations in effect as of 1/1/2014.

Mid-year changes are NOT reflected on the exams.


Recertification is required after 5 years for CPP and 3 years for FPC. Recertification may be achieved through accumulating recertification credit hours ((RCHs) or by successfully retesting. For CPP 120 RCHs are required; for FPC, 60.

Earn RCHs with APA Membership

Obtain three Recertification Credit Hours (RCHs) per year for being a member in good standing. RCHs will be awarded at the end of the APA member's membership year based on anniversary date.

CPP Recertification Program Log
FPC Recertification Program Log

A recertification fee is due prior to submitting the recertification log.


Many APA Local Chapters conduct study groups for CPP and FPC exam preparation. Consult the study group list for a group in your area.


APA's certification programs bring college credit through the ACE College Credit By Examination Program. Details.


Have a question about APA's Certification programs? The most common questions are answered on the FAQ page.

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