Group Training Fast-Tracks Your Team's FPC Certification

By Tania Bunik

Training to ensure your organization's compliance and keeping your skills up to date is a way of life for everyone in payroll. No question, there are personal and professional benefits for each of us. But when an entire department embarks on education to obtain certification together, the benefits multiply quickly.

Susan Odegard, FPC, is the Payroll Supervisor at Guitar Center, one of the world's largest music retailers with more than 265 stores across the U.S. Like many payroll professionals, Susan wasn't looking to become a payroll professional, but 13 years ago a temporary payroll job turned into a career. She's been at Guitar Center for 10 years and now supervises a five-person payroll staff. Her team uses ADP to process the pay for 11,000 employees semi-monthly.

Earlier this year, Susan and her staff started their journey toward certification together. Actually, it was more like a sprint because they started preparing in February 2014 and took the Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) exam just 12 weeks later in April 2014.

"Our new Payroll Manager was a Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) and wanted all of us to earn the FPC," Susan said. "She arranged for the company to fund the training and FPC exam costs for our entire payroll staff."

The group chose APA's Fundamentals of Payroll to help them achieve their payroll education and certification goal. Fundamentals of Payroll is an effective and convenient way to learn and apply the knowledge required for basic payroll processing while preparing for the FPC exam. The program blends printed text with interactive online study tools like quizzes and games to reinforce concepts and calculations.

Preparing at such a fast pace posed a challenge for this group with such diverse skills and abilities.

"One of our main challenges was to get up to speed on many of the things that are outside of our regular responsibilities, mostly in the areas of finance and human resources," Susan said. "The program helped us work through these areas individually and come together as a group to clarify details and reinforce learning."

The entire team went through the program together by studying individually and through an organized study group. After being surprised by their low scores on the pre-test, the group decided to read modules individually and take the module quizzes together during a weekly study group.

"I highly, highly recommend studying as a group because each of us had a better understanding of different concepts in the course," she said. "Sometimes you need to bounce information off of another person to get a different perspective and to understand a concept fully."

Aside from preparing for the FPC, a key benefit of Fundamentals of Payroll was the overall knowledge the group gained from the program.

"I use the knowledge I gained every day," Susan said. "The payroll profession has become so reliant on automated systems nowadays. Even though our system is set up to run automatically, I can go back and check if the system is set up correctly. Now I can tell the difference if our back-end system is programmed incorrectly."

The program benefited the entire team as well.

"The knowledge gained from the Fundamentals of Payroll program changes the way my team responds to employees who ask questions about their checks," she said. "They have the confidence that what they produce is correct and they know why it's correct. It's a big deal to them."

Following her team's accomplishments, Susan is taking a short break from studying and certification and plans to take the CPP exam in March 2015.

"Aside from certification preparation, I highly recommend Fundamentals of Payroll for any payroll professional. It's the confidence-builder I needed as a stepping stone to the CPP."

Visit to learn more about Fundamentals of Payroll and to experience a free demo.


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