Education & Certification


Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC)

Fundamental Payroll Certification

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

FPC Candidate Handbook

The FPC Candidate Handbook contains the 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.

Submit the Application

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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 2022
Registration: November 8, 2021 - April 15, 2022
Exam: January 10 - April 16, 2022

Fall 2022
Registration: July 6 - October 7, 2022
Exam: September 10 - October 8, 2022

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 11, 2021 through September 9, 2022, feature questions based on federal laws and regulations in effect as of January 1, 2021.

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.

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 page). 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 the Foundations of Payroll Certificate Program 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.

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.