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What are the FPC and CPP?

by Corie Stark | May 29, 2017
The FPC and CPP are two ways payroll professional demonstrate their knowledge.

Payroll certification showcases specialized skills and knowledge in the career field of payroll. It also demonstrates an on-going pursuit of further payroll education. With certifications, professionals in the field can advance their career and secure promotions at their respected companies.


In the payroll industry, there are two credentials a professional can earn to advance their careers through the American Payroll Association (APA). The first is the Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) and the second is the Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) certification.


The FPC does not require any previous payroll experience and does not require APA membership. People who take the FPC are typically entry-level payroll professionals, sales persons working in the payroll industry, software analysts and engineers writing code for payroll related resources, and payroll service bureau client representatives. To receive the FPC title, one must apply to take the FPC exam through the APA. This includes completing a candidate handbook. Without doing so, a professional will not be considered for the FPC exam. The exam consists of questions that demonstrate general payroll competency.


The CPP certification is the more senior of the two. Those taking the exam must have payroll experience and without at least THREE years of industry experience, cannot apply to take the test. However, for those seeking the CPP title with less than three years, there are others options to gain exceptions. For example:


Option 1:

The candidate has worked in payroll for at least 24 months and has completed the following courses options, with one being taken through the APA:


Courses option 1: Payroll Practice Essentials, Intermediate Payroll Concepts, Advanced Payroll Concepts, Strategic Payroll Practices.

Courses option 2: Payroll 101 and Payroll 201.

Courses option 3: Certified Payroll Professional Bootcamp.


Option 2:

The candidate has worked in payroll for at least 18 months, has passed the FPC exam, has completed the following courses options, with one being taken through the APA:


Courses option 1:  Intermediate Payroll Concepts, Advanced Payroll Concepts, Strategic Payroll Practices.

Courses option 2: Payroll 201.

Courses option 3: Certified Payroll Professional Bootcamp.


The CPP demonstrates a deeper understanding of payroll, getting down to very specific nuances. Like this exam, an application and completion of a candidate handbook must be done.


Have you successfully taken the FPC or CPP exams? Let us know how you studied on PayrollTalk.