If you want to be an entry-level payroll professional, it can be smart to attain certification that shows you have the skills to do a good job. The American Payroll Association (APA) offers the Fundamental Payroll Certification Exam.
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In addition to payroll professions, the APA says the certification is meant for sales professionals/consultants in the payroll industry; systems analysts/engineers supporting payroll systems; and payroll service provider client representatives. Here’s what you need to know about the exam.
I’m interested in taking the Fundamental Payroll Certification Exam. What do I need to know?
There are 150 multi-choice questions, of which 25 are not scored. You can take the test during certain testing windows throughout the year.
The test fee is $320 for APA members and $395 for non-members. Candidates have three hours to complete the test. Candidates will receive their test score at the test center, when the exam is complete.
What content areas are on the test?
The exam contains seven content areas, and each test specific knowledge areas. Here’s a synopsis:
- Core Payroll Concepts: Tests knowledge in several categories including fair labor standards, employment taxes, and employee benefits
- Compliance/Research and Resources: Topics such as reporting, record retention and penalties are covered here
- Calculation of the Paycheck: Includes compensation and benefits, employer taxes and contributions, and net pay
- Payroll Process and Supporting Systems and Administration: Tests knowledge of maintaining master file components, concepts and functionalities, and disaster recovery plans
- Payroll Administration and Management: Policies and procedures, management skills and practices, and communication and customer service are all covered here
- Audits: Includes internal controls, payroll system controls and audit policies and procedures
- Accounting: Tests knowledge in accounting principles, general ledger account classification, and other areas.
Fundamental Payroll Certification Study Guide Questions
It’s test day. What are the testing center rules?
Candidates should arrive at least 30 minutes before their scheduled test time and follow these rules:
- Identification: Candidates are required to bring two forms of identification — a government issued ID with a photo and signature, and one piece of secondary identification. Government-issued ID includes a driver’s license or passport; secondary ID includes a social security card or other ID.
- Calculators: Candidates may bring their own calculator to use during the test, provided they meet certain restrictions. (For example, battery powered calculators are permitted and programmable calculators are prohibited). Candidates may also request a calculator from the testing center.
- Prohibited items. Electronic items, like smartphones and tablets, are strictly prohibited. Certain items of clothing, like hooded sweaters and costs, are not allowed in the testing room, and test administrators may ask you to remove all jewelry. In short, candidates can’t bring any personal items or electronics into the testing center.
This looks like a very hard test. How can I prepare?
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by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: May 24, 2019