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.)

Click here to read what a current CPP has to say about certification.

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.

Login to your Certification Dashboard and look for upcoming features such as online exam application, APA transcript, Recertification status, and much more.

About the Exams

The Fundamental Payroll Certification (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

The Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) is a certification credential for those with payroll knowledge and experience. The Certification Board of the APA requires that payroll professionals fulfill one of the eligibility criteria before taking this exam.
Overview information

Exam Dates

North America Exam Window
Spring 2018

Registration: January 16 - April 20, 2018
Exam Window: March 24 - April 21, 2018

Fall 2018
Registration: July 10 - October 12, 2018
Exam Window: September 15 - October 13, 2018

For Learning Center, International, and Military exam dates, review the Candidate Handbook.

For CPP and FPC exams administered September 17, 2016 through September 15, 2017, questions should be answered based on Federal laws and regulations in effect as of 1/1/2016.

For CPP and FPC exams administered September 16, 2017 through September 15, 2018, questions should be answered based on Federal laws and regulations in effect as of 1/1/2017.

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 contact [email protected] for the registration form. If you have any questions about exam registration, please contact the Certification Department by email or call (210) 226-4600.

Only registrants of the Payroll 101 or Payroll 201 Learning Center course will be allowed to take the FPC or CPP exam at the conclusion of the course. Walk-in registrations are not allowed.

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.

View Payroll 101 course and exam schedule.

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.

View Payroll 201 course and exam schedule.

International and Military Testing Opportunities

The APA administers the FPC and CPP exams at over 180 locations internationally. Examination applications must be completed and submitted to the APA before registering to take the exam. Candidates are responsible for the full amount of the examination fee prior to scheduling the exam.

View Schedule and Pricing

Examinations are delivered ONLY in English and are based on U.S. federal rules and regulations. Candidates are responsible for knowing all regulations regarding fees and examination scheduling as presented in the FPC or CPP Candidate Handbook, there are no exceptions.

For eligible military personnel and certain family members, 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. Download the Candidate Examination Handbook for complete registration instructions, fees and how to find testing locations.

APA Transcript Requests

Transcripts for APA national courses, seminars and conferences attended, within the current recertification period (3 years for FPC and 5 years for CPP), will be provided upon submission of payment.

Please allow two (2) weeks for processing. APA will provide transcripts via email. If you need to update your contact information, please call Membership Services at (210) 224-6406 or email [email protected].

Notification / Verification of Designation

For successful candidates that would like the APA to notify their boss of their accomplishment OR for potential and current employers that would like to obtain verification, please complete the request form. Submit all requests to [email protected]. Please allow 2 to 3 weeks for processing.

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.

  • If you need to make corrections to your name or to change your legal name, email your request (along with legal documentation for name changes) to [email protected]. Include in the Subject Line of the email the words: Certificate Order.
  • Allow 3 to 5 business days for updates to be completed.
  • You must wait for name changes to be effective on your APA profile before ordering your certificate.
  • If a Certificate is ordered with the wrong name the APA will not be responsible for the cost of a corrected 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 FPC or CPP. You will then be redirected to the ordering page where you can make your selections and place your order.

Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for your certificate to arrive.

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


Free Webinar - Prepare yourself for the CPP and FPC Exams


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

FPC Recertification Program Log
CPP Recertification Program Log

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.


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.


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.


APA's Certification Department
[email protected]

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