A Certified Payroll Professional is a designation to an individual through the American Payroll Association (APA). This means that the person is an expert who has been certified in advanced payroll processing, payroll software, and relevant payroll legislation. To achieve this status as an expert, it is necessary to undergo and pass the CPP exam.
What is the American Payroll Association (APA)?
The American Payroll Association (APA) is an organization that is focused on helping payroll professionals elevate their skills through payroll education, conferences, training, and community support. They conduct payroll conferences, seminars, and CPP exams.
What are the benefits of becoming a CPP (Certified Payroll Professional)?
For businesses that do not want to outsource their payroll processing and want to keep payroll within the company, they can opt to have their payroll staff become Certified Payroll Professionals. While this can take much effort and preparation, having CPPs on your payroll team is a good investment. Certified Payroll Professionals can ensure that your payroll processes are accurate and top-notch because CPPs have advanced knowledge and high-level skills in payroll systems.
What is the CPP exam about?
As mentioned above, the Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) exam is attainable via the American Payroll Association (APA) who developed the exam. Designed for experienced payroll professionals, the CPP exam takes four hours all in all to complete and is composed of 190 multiple-choice type questions. Each question has four choices. Notably, the exam offers 25 trial questions that have no bearing on the final score. Results are available on the day of the examination and applicants will be notified if they passed or otherwise. The CPP exam certifies and confirms the expertise of payroll managers, specialists, and supervisors.
The CPP exam covers seven areas which are as follows:
Core payroll concepts
Payroll process and systems
The CPP exam is conducted electronically in multiple locations. Once an application is approved, the applicant can choose when they can take it.
How much does it cost to take the CPP Exam?
The Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) Exam fee costs $550 as of March 2021.
Who can take the CPP Exam?
Not everybody can just take the CPP exam. Even if you have studied payroll in school and would want to get ahead by becoming certified, you must meet certain experience and education requirements to be an eligible applicant. The CPP exam is specifically designed for those who are experienced in being payroll professionals.
I would like to take the CPP Exam. What are the steps that I should take?
Becoming a Certified Payroll Professional and taking the CPP exam has a process. If this is something that you would like to take on, here are the steps:
Check if you are eligible to take the CPP exam.
According to the APA, there are three ways by which you can be eligible to take the CPP exam. You must meet at least one of the following criteria:
Have been employed in payroll for at least 3 out of 5 years before the date of the exam application;
Have been employed in payroll for at least the last two years and have completed a series of APA-approved courses;
Have been employed in payroll for at least the last 18 months and have completed APA-approved courses during this period;
Once you’ve checked if you are eligible, apply for the CPP exam.
Complete the CPP application and wait for approval from the APA’s certification department. You shall have to pay the exam fee before registering for the exam itself. Please note that the processing time for applications usually takes 10 to 15 days from the date of receipt.
Register for the CPP exam.
Once you receive the approval from the APA, you will be issued an identification number that you will need to schedule the CPP exam. You will have one year from the date of approval to schedule the exam.
Prepare for the exam, study, and take the CPP exam.
Note that the APA offers materials that you can use to prepare for the CPP exam. These are in the form of training booklets, classes, and online webinars.
I have passed my CPP exam and have my certificate already as a CPP (Certified Payroll Professional). Is this certificate valid for good?
No, you must renew your certification every five years. To be recertified, you will need to fulfill 120 recertification credit hours (RCHs) which are continuing education activities. These are through APA-accredited events.
Keep in mind that if you are not able to take these continuing education units, you will need to be recertified by taking the CPP exam again. It will entail going through the same eligibility and application process as non-CPPs.
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