Payroll accounting typically earns a place among vital functions for any business. Payroll accountants ensure timely and accurate payment of all employees and contractors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the demand for all accountants, including payroll accountants, to grow by 6% between 2018 and 2028. This rate outpaces the average growth rate for all jobs in the country.

The following guide helps prospective payroll accountants learn more about the field.

Learn More About a Career as a Payroll Accountant

How Much Do Payroll Accountants Make?

Median Salary

The BLS combines salary data for accountants that specialize in tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services. The median salary for this category is $70,640 per year. According to PayScale, which collects data regarding payroll accountants exclusively, the mean pay for these professionals is $53,191 per year, including additional incentive pay.

Salary by Experience

As in many careers, the average salary of a payroll accountant changes depending on each individual's professional experience. The entry-level average payroll accountant salary is $40,000 per year, while professionals with 5-9 years of experience earn an average of $55,000 annually. The chart below details how experience affects payroll accountant salary.

Experience Salary
< 1 year $40,000
1-4 years $49,000
5-9 years $55,000
10-19 years $55,000

Salary by Degree

Just as experience can affect the average payroll accountant salary, higher education can help candidates earn higher salaries. For example, a Georgetown University study on the economic effects of college degrees found that candidates who hold bachelor's degrees in accounting earn $69,000 per year on average. The chart below details salary averages for different levels of accounting education.

Bachelor's Degree

Median Salary: $69,000

Master's Degree

Median Salary: $91,000

Career Path Salaries

For many professionals, working as a payroll accountant serves as the first step in a long, successful career. After a few years in these roles, accountants may find jobs as payroll managers, specialists, and analysts. The chart below shows the mean salaries for each of these positions.

Potential Next Step Salary
Payroll Manager $66,184
Payroll Specialist $48,191
Payroll Analyst $56,418

What Are the Top States for Payroll Accountant Pay?

Location can significantly impact the average payroll accountant salary. Since the BLS collects salary data for all accountants and auditors by state, seeing these averages for different states across the country can help candidates determine how much they should earn. The following chart details the top-paying states for payroll accountants.

  • District of Columbia

    Annual Mean Wage: $98,130

  • New York

    Annual Mean Wage: $96,300

  • New Jersey

    Annual Mean Wage: $90,400

  • Virginia

    Annual Mean Wage: $85,640

  • Connecticut

    Annual Mean Wage: $84,890

What Are the Top Industries for Payroll Accountant Pay?

Payroll accountant salaries also depend on employer industries. On average, accountants and auditors in the finance and insurance sectors earn the highest salaries. Management companies also pay above-average wages. The chart below details the four top industries for payroll accountants and other accounting professionals.

Industry Annual Mean Wage
Finance and Insurance $74,690
Management of Companies and Enterprises $73,180
Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Services $70,640
Government $68,420

Are Payroll Accountants In-Demand?

Historical Career Growth

As businesses grow, they need professionals to handle their payroll duties. As such, growth in the global economy can create more demand for payroll accountants. Furthermore, the need for payroll accountants has traditionally grown as tax and employment laws have evolved. Recent trends in globalization have also contributed to growth in the field.

Future Career Growth

The BLS projects 5% job growth for all accountants and auditors between 2018 and 2028. Like salary potential, job growth rates may vary between states and among industries.

Top States for Job Growth

Demand for payroll accountants can differ greatly among individual states. For example, Utah could see a 32% growth rate in the profession within 10 years. The following chart details the top states for payroll accountants in terms of job growth.

Utah

32.7% Change from 2016-2026

Colorado

24.8% Change from 2016-2026

Tennessee

24.7% Change from 2016-2026

Nevada

23.6% Change from 2016-2026

Florida

20% Change from 2016-2026

How do Payroll Accountants Compare to Other Accounting Careers?

Many sources include job growth data for payroll accountants with all other types of accountants. As such, it can prove difficult to determine whether payroll accountants benefit from higher salary and growth potential than other types of accountants. Nevertheless, data from PayScale can help candidates compare payroll accounting to similar professions. The following list uses that data to provide mean salaries for some other popular accounting fields.

As in payroll accounting, wages for these types of accountants change based on location, experience, and education.

Take the first step in your career today

Learn More About Payroll Accountant Salaries & Job Growth

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics The BLS forms part of the U.S. Department of Labor. The organization's website provides data -- including job outlook, median salaries, and regional-specific information -- on many types of careers
  • O*NET OnLine This career resource includes information about different types of jobs. Readers can search for occupations based on certain skills and industries. Military members can also find information about the best civilian careers.
  • Projections Central This website breaks down career information by state, including projected job growth. Readers can look at short-term and long-term projections. The site uses many of the same career categories as the BLS.
  • Accounting.com This website includes state-specific information about accounting careers, degrees for prospective accountants, and available scholarships. Candidates can also locate accounting jobs across the country.
  • Career OneStop The U.S. Department of Labor sponsors this site, which provides information about more than 950 careers. Candidates can also find job postings, career toolkits, training opportunities, and community resources.