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Terms and Definitions

What is a certified payroll professional?

Updated: May 22, 2024

Certified payroll professional (CPP) definition and meaning

A Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) is an individual who has earned a certification from the American Payroll Association (APA) and who is officially recognized for their high level of proficiency in payroll administration.


More about CPPs and their purpose

The CPP designation highlights payroll professionals who are committed to upholding the profession’s ethical standards. Only individuals who have demonstrated mastery of payroll principles and practices are recognized by the APA’s CPP Certification Board.


To be eligible to take the certified payroll professional exam, one must first meet certain criteria, which can include education or work experience. Even after passing this exam, all CPPs must keep up with industry changes, meet ongoing requirements for continuing education, and recertify with the APA every five years.


Businesses of all sizes hire CPPs for a number of payroll-related responsibilities including calculating and distributing employee pay, tracking and reporting employee benefits and deductions, and preparing and filing tax forms pertaining to payroll. You’ll find CPPs hard at work in a variety of settings, such as private companies, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.

“Our most recent hire is a certified payroll professional who has decades of experience in the accounting field.”

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