News & Resources


The Making of a Payroll Professional

BY: Liz Schoenecker | 08/22/18

As a teenager, Jacqui Ditmars, CPP, wanted to earn some extra cash. Her CPA father had a side business doing payroll, and he hired her on to help. Jacqui didn’t think much of it at the time, but this part-time job became a springboard to her career as a payroll professional.

Entering into payroll without any formal training, Jacqui came across questions for which she didn’t know the answers.

“Working for my dad, questions would come up that I couldn’t answer, so I began to dig for information,” she said.

Her search led her to the American Payroll Association (APA), a pivotal discovery that opened her eyes to the possibility of a career in payroll.

“The more I read, the more I knew this was something I wanted to pursue,” she said. “There’s not a whole lot of people out there who just devote their lives to payroll, and it seemed like a good plan for me.”

Eventually, her digging uncovered information on APA’s payroll certifications, the Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC), and the Certified Payroll Professional (CPP). As she learned more about the certifications, Jacqui set a goal to get her CPP someday.

After almost 20 years in payroll, Jacqui decided it was time to achieve that goal. It was not a requirement for her job, but she was driven by her personal motivation to improve herself as a payroll professional and showcase the knowledge she had gained through experience and study.

“I can do something with this,” she said. “I can take this and I can go. I can move my mountain.”

Finding a way to prepare for the exam was her first step. She was covering all the expenses out of her own pocket, so cost was an important factor.

“I had just had my second child, so I was looking for an affordable way to prepare,” Jacqui said.

It was at this point that she discovered PayTrain®, a payroll training and CPP exam preparation program offered by APA.

As a busy working mother, PayTrain has all the things that were important to Jacqui. It is cost-effective, flexible, and convenient. PayTrain includes comprehensive learning modules with interactive quizzes, calculations, exercises, flashcards, and games. Everything can be accessed online with an easy-to-navigate design and an embedded e-reader, allowing her to study when and where her schedule allowed.

Jacqui quickly knew that she made the right choice in buying PayTrain.

“As soon as I picked up this program and got into it, I found this plethora of knowledge that I could really use,” she said. “It’s engaging, visually stimulating, and the modules are easy to read. You can tell it’s written by people who know what they are talking about, and I think that’s what engages you.”

After several months going through the PayTrain program, Jacqui took the CPP exam. On the day of her test, she was nervous to the point of shaking. But once she started the exam, she felt her confidence build, one question at a time. Upon finishing the test she saw “PASS” on the screen.

“It was the first time in my life to achieve something like that, and I fell apart,” she said. “It was absolutely an amazing feeling.”

Jacqui approaches her career as a Global Payroll Specialist at Carnegie Mellon University with a new confidence, knowing that she has the skills and knowledge required to earn the CPP letters behind her name. She’s proud to be the first CPP-certified professional at her organization.

“There are not many people who can apply for a job and say, ‘I’m a CPP,’” she said. “I’m a payroll professional. I earned it.”

Exceptional payroll professionals have been using PayTrain for more than 28 years to help prepare for the CPP exam, stay up to date on the most recent developments in payroll legislation, elevate their job performance, boost their earning potential, and advance their careers.  For more information about PayTrain programs and to try a free demo, visit

Liz Schoenecker is a Marketing Manager for Holmes Corporation.