Certified Payroll Professional

The Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) designation is an exam-based payroll certification attained by individuals who possess a high level of professional competency through both the acquisition of knowledge and direct payroll experience. Prior to sitting for the exam, a CPP candidate must verify employment in the payroll profession preceding the exam date. The CPP designation indicates that an individual has the experience and skills necessary to provide strategic payroll management and support to facilitate a company’s overall business goals.

According to Payroll.org's online copy of the CPP Examination Candidate Handbook

A payroll professional must be proficient in all aspects of taxation and tax reporting, MIS, human resources (including benefits), and accounting as each of these relate to the payroll environment.
Upon successful completion of the CPP Examination, CPPs may be eligible to receive up to fifteen (15) undergraduate college credits as recommended by the American Council on Education’s Credit by Examination Program.


The CPP Examination for Payroll Professionals is administered for the APA by Pearson VUE, a leading provider of assessment services to regulatory agencies and national associations, which provides licensing, credentialing, and support services to associations, state agencies, and private industries. Examiners for the payroll examination are hired by Pearson VUE and are unrelated to the field of payroll.

The goals of the APA’s Certified Payroll Professional certification program are: to promote the standard for payroll professionals, which is accepted by the business community and the public at large; to encourage professional growth and individual study by the payroll professional; to provide the standard of requisite knowledge for the payroll professional; to measure by means of the certification examination the attainment and application of that standard; and to recognize formally those colleagues who continue to meet the requirements of the APA Certification Board’s CPP Committee.


The CPP Examination is voluntary, and certification is conferred by the APA Certification Board’s CPP Committee solely for the purposes stated in this certification handbook. Those persons or organizations who choose to incorporate the CPP Examination as a condition of employment or advancement do so of their own volition. Such persons or organizations must determine for themselves whether the use of such a certification process, including its eligibility and recertification requirements, when coupled with any other requirements imposed by such persons or organizations, meets their respective needs and complies with any laws applicable to them.


The CPP Examination is weighted in approximately the following manner:

I. Core Payroll Concepts - 27.5%

II. Compliance - 23%

III. Principles of Paycheck Calculations - 20%

IV. Payroll Process and Systems - 8.5%

V. Accounting - 6%

VI. Management and Administration - 15%


If an examinee passes the CPP Examination and accepts the APA Code of Ethics, they will be entitled to receive a certificate and lapel pin and use the designation “CPP” (Certified Payroll Professional) after their name. If a CPP previously attained the Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC), the FPC and CPP designations may be used simultaneously until the FPC designation expires. At that time, only the CPP designation may be used and recertified.

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