Fundamental Payroll Certification

FPC Exam Content Outline


I Core Payroll Concepts 40%
A. Worker Status
B. Fair Labor Standards Act
C. Employment Taxes
D. Employee Benefits
E. Employee / Employer Forms
F. Professional Responsibility
G. Methods and Timing of Pay
II Compliance / Research and Resources 20%

A. Escheatment
B. Regulatory - Maintain Compliance and Accuracy of Payroll Processing
C. Reporting
D. Record Retention

E. Penalties

III Calculation of the Paycheck 22%
A. Compensation/Benefits
B. Involuntary Deductions / Taxes
C. Voluntary Deductions (pre and post tax)
D. Employer Taxes and Contributions
E. Net Pay
IV Payroll Process and Supporting Systems and Administration 2%
A. Maintain master file components
B. Concepts and Functionalities
C. Disaster Recovery Plan
V Payroll Administration and Management 7%

A. Policies and Procedures (e.g., overtime, benefits, leave)

B. Management Skills and Practices

C. Communication / Customer Service


VI Audits 5%

A. Internal Controls

B. Payroll System Controls

C. Accounting Systems Controls

D. Audit Policies and Procedures

VII Accounting 4%

A. Accounting Principles
B. General Ledger Account Classification
C. Payroll Journal Entry
D. Account Reconciliation

FPC Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs)

Last Updated: 9/19/2013


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 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.

CPP Recertification Program Log
FPC 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.


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.


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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