Anyone with experience with the payroll compliance practitioner (PCP) certification?

  • Last Updated:
  • Sep 9th, 2021 4:19 pm
Jul 5, 2020
1 posts

Anyone with experience with the payroll compliance practitioner (PCP) certification?

Hi all,

New member here! I'm a mom with a bachelor's degree in Accounting from over a decade ago. Since getting my degree, however, I've mostly just been a stay-at-home mom, helping my husband with his store when I can. Recently, I've been wanting to get back on the job market. Looking around, the PCP cert from the Canadian Payroll Association caught my eye, and I'm considering getting into payroll.

Anyone with the certification or just with payroll experience in general (especially if you're in Montreal, which is where I am!), how's the job market (let's say, pre-COVID, so I can get an idea of the baseline)? I haven't job hunted in forever, and I'm not very young anymore, so I'm worried about my ability to get a job at all. I'm a hard worker, a fast learner and good with numbers, but that won't help if all the jobs I apply for require 2+ years of experience.

The PCP certification itself requires not only the indicated coursework, but also a year of work experience in the field, and I'm not sure how to go about to obtain that work experience. Does the program have some sort of internship program or at least networking opportunities to connect people with little experience to companies willing to take us in?

Lastly, I'm also wondering if getting the PCP coursework done would help my odds at finding a job given that I don't have actual work experience in the field? The courses do cost a bit, so I'm wondering if it would be wiser for me to self-learn enough of the material to maybe find a job first, so that I can be sure that I won't be doing the coursework for nothing. The worst case scenario for me would be to waste my time, money and energy doing the courses, only to be unable to get any work, preventing me from even completing the certification.

Any thoughts appreciated!
7 replies
Nov 30, 2020
0 posts
Hi there,
I just came across this post and I'm in a similar situation, but I've already completed the first course for PCP. I am currently employed in an accounting role, with no payroll duties involved and I do find that it's difficult to get a payroll job without any related experience. However, since you have a degree in accounting, I think that's already a great advantage. You should be able to find some bookkeeping/accounting jobs which involve payroll duties. Usually, small to midsize companies would have a higher chance of having these hybrid roles since they might not have a dedicated HR or payroll Dept. The program does not offer internship, only a job connect portal, which doesn't have many opportunities at the moment. Keep checking for job postings that have a combination of payroll/accounting duties. I was able to get an interview as an Accounting/Payroll specialist even though I do not have full cycle payroll experience, but I had some exposure to payroll rec in some of my accounting duties. Having PCP will definitely be an asset once you've gotten your 1 year experience and it will open doors to more payroll opportunities as most jobs will require that certificate. Many companies spend money on lawyers and and payroll consultants to deal with complicated employee situations, and I'm sure that having someone certified in house would be an asset.
Feb 15, 2018
441 posts
A purely payroll position would be tough for you to get due to the fact that a person with an accounting degree would be viewed as overqualified for payroll, as payroll is basically a clerical job. Managing the payroll and benefits department of huge corporation is a where I could see a degree come in handy, but then you would not have the required experience. So, you are overqualified for a regular payroll position yet underqualified for a payroll/benefits manager position.

Your best bet is to look for a hybrid bookkeeping/payroll position with a small company. They would be hiring you more for your bookkeeping skills and payroll would be a bonus.

As for studying for the designation, I would wait until I start a new job before starting to hit the books. Also, payroll is something that is not hard to learn, especially for someone with a BA like you. In my experience payroll is 90% legislative compliance, 5% accounting, insurance plans. After doing the payroll we then need to send everything to the GL. So, what you really need to read up on is legislation that governs your pay in Quebec (Provincial employment standards and Quebec Pension Plan). Federally, you need to have an idea of how EI works and how ROEs work.
Edmonton area Realtor
Apr 27, 2021
1 posts
Hi All,

I'm considering this certification as I've been working in payroll since 2017. My question is how heavy are the courses? Can I take two at a time and then do the 3rd later? Or two together is not doable?

Aug 28, 2021
2 posts

I also have a Bachelor of Accounting degree and currently am taking the last PCP course. PCP Program has 3 courses to complete. The program also requires a credit for an Introductory level I of Accounting course (but this has to have been completed within the last 10 years).
I am taking PCP courses online and personally don't find PCP exams that hard (especially if yiu had studied accounting), but you have to submit homeworks n assignments almost every week.

My only concern was in getting a Payroll job, but definitely applying to small/medium sized companies for Payroll/bookkeeping/AP jobs would give you higher chance of getting Payroll work experience. This was the way I was able to get a Payroll/AP job.
If you had already started taking PCP program, mentioning this on your resume also helps.

The only thing that I would recommend is that if you are concerned that you might not get a Payroll job experience, maybe try to get a payroll related career in small to med-sized companies before you start taking the PCP courses.
From the Start date of the PCP program, I believe that you must get 1 year of Payroll work experience within 3 years.
Aug 28, 2021
2 posts

I personally don't find the PCP courses that hard. I am currently taking the last PCP course online.

I believe that you could take only 1 course at a time, since the 1st course would be the pre-requisite for the 2nd one and so on.
Since I'm taking the PCP while working full-time, taking 1 course at a time had been quite a handful for me. Almost every week, you are required to submit online discussions and the course is composed of 2 assignments, Midterm exam and a Final exam.

Also, PCP program requires a credit for Introductory level I of Accounting course.

I believe that you must complete all courses and 1 year of payroll work experience withing 3 years since the start date of your PCP program.
Sep 8, 2021
1 posts
Hi, could you explain what those online discussion submissions look like? What is it exactly that you need to submit?
Sep 10, 2021
1 posts
Hi Everyone
I am also considering PCP courses.
I checked almost every single college in ontario mentioned on CPA website, but there is huge discrepancy in fees offered by differeng colleges.
I wonder if I apply directly with CPA for courses by becoming a member as an applicant, so I will be allocated to a college automatically by CPA or CPA will be delivering online classes and will provide course material to me?
Any thoughts ?
Really appreciate your feedback as I have prepared my min to get enrolled in september intake.
Thank You


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