Education & Certification


Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC)

FPC logo

The Fundamental Payroll Certification is open to all those who wish to demonstrate a baseline of payroll competency. The FPC is designed for:

  • Entry-level payroll professionals
  • Sales professionals/consultants serving the payroll industry
  • Systems analysts/engineers supporting payroll systems
  • Payroll service provider client representatives

You do not have to be an APA member to register for or take the FPC examination. As a first step, all candidates must download the FPC Candidate Handbook.

FPC Handbook cover

Fundamental Payroll Certification Candidate Handbook

The FPC Candidate Handbook contains the exam application and information necessary to schedule an exam. It also contains information regarding suggested study tools, testing center guidelines, and how to maintain the FPC certification. Failure to follow the policies found in the handbook can result in a denial of the FPC designation.

Download Your Handbook

Certification Exam Application

A Fundamental Payroll Certification candidate must complete and submit an application to take the FPC Exam. The APA’s Certification Department must approve the application before the candidate can register for the exam.

Download the Application

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About the Exam

The exam is offered in North America during the following windows:

Spring 2018
Registration: January 16-April 20, 2018
Exam: March 24-April 21, 2018

Exams administered from September 16, 2017 through September 14, 2018, feature questions based on federal laws and regulations in effect as of January 1, 2017.

Fall 2018
Registration: July 10-October 12, 2018
Exam: September 15-October 13, 2018

Exams administered from September 15, 2018 through September 13, 2019, feature questions based on federal laws and regulations in effect as of January 1, 2018.

For information on taking the exam at APA’s Payroll Learning Centers, internationally, and on military bases, review the Candidate Handbook .

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 FPC exam (refer to the FPC Candidate Handbook’s bibliography). No one study tool should be considered the only basis for exam preparation. Successful candidates indicate that they pursued a six- to twelve-week course of study and review based on the FPC 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 FPC-certified and cannot meet the FPC recertification by continuing education requirements may apply for recertification through examination. Recertification by examination requires the individual holding the FPC designation to take and pass the FPC exam during the calendar year in which their current FPC designation expires.

Because examination dates are limited to the spring and fall exam windows and to limited dates after taking Payroll 101 at APA’s Payroll Learning Centers, candidates are encouraged to determine an examination date early in the year. The FPC Committee reserves the right to review an applicant's qualifications and eligibility.

Ordering Your FPC Certificate and Lapel Pin

Step 1
Log into the APA website using your APA ID Number and Password. You can obtain your APA ID and password by emailing Membership Services or calling 210-224-6406.

Step 2
Verify, on the welcome line, the spelling of your name as you want it to appear on your certificate.

  • If you need to make corrections to your name or to change your legal name, email your request (along with legal documentation for name changes) to [email protected] Include in the Subject Line of the email the words: Certificate Order.
  • Allow 3 to 5 business days for updates to be completed.
  • You must wait for name changes to be effective on your APA profile before ordering your certificate.
  • If a FPC Certificate is ordered with the wrong name the APA will not be responsible for the cost of a corrected certificate.

Step 3
After verifying that your name is spelled correctly, stay logged into the APA website and click on the certification tab in the left panel (this is necessary for validation of your designation).

Step 4
Scroll down to the bottom of the certification page and click FPC. You will then be redirected to the ordering page where you can make your selections and place your order.

Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for your certificate to arrive.

If you have any questions email the certification department or call 210-226-4600.

Order FPC Certificate/Lapel Pin