The Certification Board of the APA requires that payroll professionals fulfill ONE of the following criteria before they are eligible to take the Certified Payroll Professional Examination.
The payroll professional has been practicing for at least a total of three (3) years out of the five (5) years preceding the date of the examination application. 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
Before a candidate takes the CPP 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 courses within ONE of the following three options offered by the APA:
- Payroll Practice Essentials and
- Intermediate Payroll Concepts and
- Advanced Payroll Concepts and
- Strategic Payroll Practices
*Delivered exclusively by the APA.
Before a candidate takes the CPP 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 designation, and has completed within the last 18 months, ALL of the courses within AT LEAST ONE of the following three options offered by the APA:
*Delivered exclusively by the APA.
You do not have to be an APA member to apply for or take this exam. As a first step, all candidates must download the CPP Candidate Handbook.
CPP Candidate Handbook
The CPP Candidate Handbook contains information necessary to schedule an exam. It also contains information regarding suggested study tools, testing center guidelines, and how to maintain the CPP certification. Failure to follow the policies found in the handbook can result in a denial of the CPP designation.
Certification Exam Application
A Certified Payroll Professional candidate must complete an application to take the CPP exam. The APA’s Certification Department must approve the application before the candidate can register for the exam. The APA’s CPP Committee reserves the right to audit applications to verify applicant eligibility.
Already submitted an application?
About the Exam
North America residents can now register and test from the comfort of their home or office using OnVUE, PearsonVUE's online proctoring exam delivery system.
The exam is offered in North America during the following windows:
Registration: January 12 - April 16, 2021
Exam: March 20 - April 17, 2021
Registration: July 7 - October 8, 2021
Exam: September 11 - October 9, 2021
For information on taking the exam at APA’s Payroll Learning Centers, internationally, and on military bases, review the Candidate Handbook.
Exams administered from September 5, 2020 through September 10, 2021, feature questions based on federal laws and regulations in effect as of January 1, 2020.
Exams administered from September 11, 2021 through September 9, 2022, feature questions based on federal laws and regulations in effect as of January 1, 2021.
Mid-year legislative and regulatory changes are NOT reflected on that year’s exam.
Preparing for the Exam
A number of study aids are available as additional preparation for the CPP exam (refer to the CPP Candidate Handbook’s bibliography, p. 17). No one study tool should be considered the only basis for exam preparation. Successful candidates indicate that they pursued a minimum three-month course of study and review based on the CPP content outline and Knowledge, Skills, and Ability statements.
Candidates can obtain study materials from the APA and/or attend APA preparation courses. The APA offers training and resources in a variety of formats including:
- Online research materials
- Training courses
- Web-based training
- Webinars on demand
- Chapter Study groups
Recertification by Exam
Individuals who are currently CPP-certified and cannot meet the CPP recertification by continuing education requirements may apply for recertification through examination, which requires them to take and pass the CPP exam during the calendar year in which their current CPP designation expires. The experience and/or requirements are commensurate with the desired level of expertise for the CPP designation.
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 CPP Committee reserves the right to review an applicant's qualifications and eligibility.
Share Your Achievement
You have two options to share your achievement – online via digital badge and through hardcopy certificate.
Share your achievement on social media, and as part of your email signature or digital resume!
- Once you have passed the FPC or CPP examination, you will receive an email notification from the Acclaim Platform ([email protected]) with instructions for claiming your digital badge and setting up your account.
- When you successfully recertify, you will receive an email confirming that the recertification has been successfully approved and your date has moved forward. Your digital badge will automatically update.
You may also choose to order a hardcopy certificate through our vendor, Scribes, Inc.
- To order a certificate and pin, log in to be directed to the Scribes certificate portal by using your APA ID and password.
- You can obtain your APA ID and password by contacting Customer Service or calling (210) 224-6406
- Follow the links and instructions on the Scribes Inc. portal to submit your certificate order.
Please allow 24-48 hours after passing the exam or recertifying to claim your digital badge or to place a certificate order.