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What Payroll Salaries Should You Offer in 2019?

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Whether you need new talent to replace a departing worker or because your payroll department is growing, one thing is clear: You need to offer as competitive a salary as possible to land a top candidate. But you can't just pick a number out of the air. You probably shouldn't even base it on what the previous employee made.

Compensation fluctuates over time and with industry demand. To settle on a good salary range, it helps to know what other companies in your market are offering - then match or beat them.

So how do you find that perfect balance of a starting salary that will secure the person you want in the position without overpaying?

Enter Robert Half's Salary Calculator. A companion to The 2019 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance Professionals, this handy online tool helps you determine the appropriate payroll salaries for your department's vacancies.

Using the Salary Calculator

All you need are a few key details. From the calculator's dropdown menus, select an area of specialization (Accounting & Finance, for payroll salaries), the job category (Operational Support), the relevant job title, then your state and city. The most current salary range for that position will automatically pop up.

On the low end of the scale are candidates who are new to a position and may still be developing their skills. At the top of the range are professionals with a rich work history and several years of relevant experience. These candidates usually have attained their Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) credential and at least a bachelor's degree.

Underneath the range is the midpoint salary for the position in your market. This is the standard starting compensation for a candidate with average experience and the necessary skills to get the job done.

In-demand role: Payroll Manager

Our recruiters place finance and accounting professionals in companies all over the country. When compiling each year's Salary Guide, we ask our staffing specialists to name the positions that hiring managers have been paying a premium to fill. For the past decade, payroll manager has consistently made the list.

It's simple to see why. Businesses in many sectors are booming, including real estate, manufacturing and healthcare, which means increased hiring activity and more employees to pay. New tax laws and other legislation require companies to stay on top of myriad issues related to payroll, benefits, data privacy and more. Financial software makes it easier than ever to automate processes and analyze data, and employers require tech-savvy professionals to get the most out of online payroll platforms and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

To recruit experienced payroll managers and supervisors, companies are willing to boost wages and offer sign-on bonuses and other incentives. The national midpoint salary for the role is $72,750 (use the Salary Calculator to adjust it for your city).

Payroll salaries for 2019

To help you get a better picture of current compensation trends, here's an overview of the anticipated payroll salaries for three other key positions this year, along with salary midpoints in specific U.S. markets:

  • Payroll clerk
    National average salary range: $32,250-$60,750
    National midpoint: $39,000
    Stockton, Calif.: $33,930
    Springfield, Mass.: $39,390
    New York, N.Y.: $54,795

  • Payroll coordinator/administrator
    National average salary range: $38,500-$72,750
    National midpoint: $46,000
    Duluth, Minn.: $36,616
    Greensboro, N.C.: $46,000
    Chicago, Ill.: $56,810

  • Payroll manager/supervisor
    National average salary range: $59,250-$126,250
    National midpoint: $72,750
    Macon, Ga.: $59,655
    Tampa, Fla.: $72,386
    San Francisco, Calif.: $102,578

Benefits, perks and incentives

The Salary Calculator helps you quickly pinpoint current payroll salaries, but don't forget the bigger picture. Because payroll specialists are in high demand, job seekers know they have choices. They give a high priority to competitive medical benefits, healthy work-life balance and the other extras that make the difference between a good job and a great one.

For the Salary Guide, Robert Half surveyed HR managers across North America to discover what candidates want most:

Benefits – assistance with basic needs, usually nonmonetary

  • Health insurance
  • Paid time off, with an average of 10 days
  • Retirement savings plan

Perks – privileges sometimes tied to performance or seniority, usually nonmonetary

  • Flexible work schedule
  • Compressed workweek
  • Telecommuting

Incentives – motivational rewards often tied to performance, usually monetary

  • Annual or biannual bonus
  • Profit sharing plan
  • Sign-on bonus

To land the payroll professionals your department needs, you must understand the latest compensation trends in your market. Get all the information you need – and more – with the powerhouse combo of the Robert Half Salary Calculator and 2019 Salary Guide.


This article was first published on the Robert Half International blog. Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps has 300 locations worldwide. More resources, including job search services can be found on the Accountemps website.