Certified Payroll Professional

Candidates testing 9/16/2016 through 9/15/2017

CPP Exam Candidate Handbook
CPP Exam Content Outline
CPP Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Quick Links

Complete the CPP Application
Register and Pay Exam Fee for the CPP Exam
Check your Application Status

Establishing Eligibility

The Certification Board of the APA requires that payroll professionals fulfill ONE of the following criterias before they take the Certified Payroll Professional Examination.Only the courses listed below, delivered exclusively by APA, are eligible to fulfill the education options listed in Criteria 2 and Criteria 3. Courses outside of this list will not fulfill the requirements of Criteria 2 and Criteria 3.

CRITERIA 1: The payroll professional has been practicing a total of three (3) years out of the five (5) years preceding the date of the examination. The practice of payroll is defined as direct or related involvement in at least one of the following:

  • Payroll Production, Payroll Reporting, Payroll Accounting, Payroll Systems and Payroll Taxation
  • Payroll Administration
  • Payroll Education/Consulting
CRITERIA 2: Before a candidate takes the examination, the payroll professional has been employed in the practice of payroll as defined in Criteria 1 for at least the last 24 months, and has completed within the last 24 months, ALL of the following courses within ONE of the following three options offered by the APA:

Option 1 Option 2 Option 3 CRITERIA 3: Before a candidate takes the examination, the payroll professional has been employed in the practice of payroll as defined in Criteria 1, for at least the last 18 months, has obtained the FPC and has completed within the last 18 months, ALL of the following courses within ONE of the following three options offered by the APA:

Option 1 Option 2 Option 3

Completing the Application

Complete the CPP Application corresponding to Criteria 1, 2, or 3 presented above. Candidates are required to submit their application to the APA via email at [email protected] or via fax at 210-224-5814, before making examination reservations. By submitting your application, you authorize the APA Certification Board to contact the supervisor who signed the "Verification of Application" section of your application to substantiate your eligibility. The Certification Board reserves the right to audit applications to verify applicant eligibility. APA membership is not required to take this exam.

Examination Candidate Handbook

The CPP Candidate Handbook contains the examination application and information that you will need to make an examination reservation, Bibliography/CPP Examination Preparation, what to expect at the testing center and how to maintain certification. Exceptions are not made for candidates that do not read the handbook. See Quick Links to download the Handbook.

Preparing for the Exam

Eligibility criteria should not be considered the only criteria for preparation for the CPP exam. Candidates for the CPP exam, qualifying through any of the criteria, should be aware that a number of study aids are available as added preparation for the CPP Examination. The exam handbook contains a list of suggested references. No one source should be considered the only basis for preparation. Successful candidates indicate that they pursued a three-month minimum course of study and review based on the CPP content outline.

Check out APA's Certified Payroll Professional Learning Path for more information.

Free Webinar - Prepare yourself for the CPP and FPC Exams

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.

View this webinar at your convenience!
Webinar On Demand
Available after February 10, 2016

Study and Training Resources

Candidates can obtain study materials from the APA and attend APA review courses. APA courses are also approved to earn recertification credit hours (RCH). Training and resources are available in a variety of formats including books, training courses, Web-based training, Webinars and Webinars on demand.

Study Groups

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

About the Exam

Certification Exams administered September 17, 2016 through September 15, 2017, exam questions should be answered based on Federal laws and regulations in effect as of 1/1/2016.**

** Mid-year changes are NOT reflected on the CPP exam.

CPP Candidate Examination Fee

View Schedule and Pricing.

Candidates are responsible for the full amount of the examination fee. Once an appointment for an examination has been initiated, you are obligated to pay the full fee. If you cannot test for any reason, or decide not to test, the appointment must be changed or cancelled to avoid having to pay the exam fee for a missed examination.

Candidates are responsible for knowing all regulations regarding fees and examination scheduling as presented in the CPP Candidate Handbook, and there are no exceptions.

Exam Cancellation Policy

If you need to cancel your APA exam appointment, you must do so 31 or more calendar days in advance to avoid any fees.

All candidates must telephone Pearson VUE or go to www.pearsonvue.com/apa at least four (4) calendar days before the scheduled examination date to change or cancel a reservation. Changed reservations with proper notice may be transferred to a new reservation (within the current testing window for the Northern Americas region). Candidates will forfeit the entire examination fee and be considered a no-show if the change or cancel request is received less than four (4) calendar days from the exam reservation.

Candidates who cancel an exam four (4) to thirty (30) calendar days before their exam reservation will incur a non-refundable cancellation fee of $50 USD. Cancellations that occur more than thirty (30) calendar days prior to an exam reservation are not subject to additional fees. Please note that there is no fee to change a reservation during this same period.

For more detailed information, visit www.pearsonvue.com/apa.

Recertification By Examination

Payroll professionals who are currently certified and are applying for recertification through examination are exempt from the above requirements. The experience and/or requirements are commensurate with the desired level of expertise for the CPP designation. Recertification candidates must take and pass the CPP exam within the year in which their current designation expires. Because examination dates are limited to APA Learning Centers and the Spring and Fall exam windows, candidates are encouraged to determine an examination date early in the year. The Certification Board reserves the right to review an applicant's qualifications and eligibility.

More Information

This information has been extracted from the complete CPP Candidate Handbook. The handbook is available as a downloadable Adobe pdf file, click on the approprate link above.

Certification and Your Career

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.


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


Attendees of Payroll 101 and Payroll 201 have the opportunity to sit for the FPC and CPP exam, respectively, at the conclusion of each course. For more information, please refer to the Certification Home Page. Please note: Separate registration and fee for testing is required.

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