Education & Certification


Certified Payroll Professional (CPP)


Validate your knowledge and skills with the Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) designation – three little letters that demonstrate you’ve taken the hard road to continue your education. Embrace your continued growth in payroll with a certification that not only proves your dedication to this profession but will also open many doors in your future endeavors.

The Certification Board 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:

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

*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:

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

*Delivered exclusively by the APA.

You do not have to be a member to apply for or take this exam. As a first step, all candidates must download the CPP Candidate Handbook.

What Others Are Saying

"So many times, we come across things that are difficult to get through in our professional or personal life. I think every time you come across those things, you learn how to manage them. Taking the CPP exam made me dig deep and re-learn how to think about things critically to come to the right answer."

-Cari Breitinger, CPP
Director, HRIS and Payroll

CPP 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.

Download Your Handbook

Certification Exam Application

A Certified Payroll Professional candidate must complete an application to take the CPP exam. The Certification Department must approve the application before the candidate can register for the exam. The CPP Committee reserves the right to audit applications to verify applicant eligibility.

Submit the Application

Already submitted an application?

Check Your Application Status

Exam Dates

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:

Spring 2023
Registration: November 7, 2022 - April 14, 2023
Exam: January 9 - April 15, 2023

Fall 2023
Registration: July 5 - October 6, 2023
Exam: September 9 - October 7, 2023

For information on taking the exam at the Learning Center in Las Vegas, internationally, and on military bases, review the Candidate Handbook.

Exams administered from September 10, 2022 through September 8, 2023, feature questions based on federal laws and regulations in effect as of January 1, 2022.

Exams administered from September 9, 2023 through September 7, 2024, feature questions based on federal laws and regulations in effect as of January 1, 2023.

Mid-year legislative and regulatory changes are NOT reflected on that year’s exam.

studying at laptop

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 page). 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:

  • Books
  • Online research materials
  • Training courses
  • Web-based training
  • Webinars
  • 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 the Learning Center in Las Vegas 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!

You may also choose to order a hardcopy certificate through our vendor, Scribes, Inc.

Please allow 24-48 hours after passing the exam or recertifying to claim your digital badge or to place a certificate order.

APA Membership

Maximize the Value of Your Certification
Join the APA and get maximum return on your certification and career investment. APA members receive three RCH’s annually just for being a member, along with free webinars and compliance resources, networking opportunities, and discounts on training and publications.
Become an APA Member today!