Certified Payroll Specialist (CPS) Overview

Certified Payroll Specialist


The Certified Payroll Specialist (CPS) license is accredited by the National Association of Certified Payroll Specialists (NACPS). The license is recognized throughout the United States and its properties.


The CPS license is the premier accreditation for payroll providers providing payroll services to small businesses and nonprofit organizations. The license allows you to place "CPS" behind your name and assures clients of your payroll knowledge, skill, experience, and ethics.

The nationally recognized license helps you:

  • Distinguish yourself,
  • Build credibility,
  • Validate payroll knowledge,
  • Demonstrate payroll skill,
  • Verify payroll experience, and
  • Confirm professional ethics.

The license validates your knowledge, skill, and experience in:

  • Accounting,
  • Payroll, and
  • QuickBooks.

You obtain and maintain your license by:

  1. Passing a three-part exam,
  2. Verifying bookkeeping education and experience,
  3. Agreeing to abide by a professional code of conduct, and
  4. Maintaining 16 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) each year.


  1. Pass the three-part Uniform Certified Payroll Specialist Examination,
  2. Possess an associate or bachelor's degree in accounting or complete the Education Alternative,
  3. Possess one-year (2,000 hours) of bookkeeping, accounting, or payroll experience,
  4. Agree to abide by the Code of Professional Conduct,
  5. Obtain 16 hours of CPE credits each year beginning the subsequent full year after receiving your license, and
  6. Complete and submit the Application for Licensure.

Education Alternative

If you do not possess an associate or bachelor's degree in accounting, you may substitute the requirement by passing the following courses:

  1. Accounting Fundamentals
  2. Payroll Fundamentals
  3. QuickBooks Fundamentals (Desktop) or QuickBooks Online Fundamentals

CPS Application for Licensure

You should not complete the CPS Application for Licensure (Application) until you have passed the Uniform Certified Payroll Specialist Examination, possess an associate or bachelor's degree in accounting or completed the Education Alternative, and agree to abide by the CPS Code of Professional Conduct. The 16 hours of CPE credit annual requirement begins the subsequent full year once you obtain your CPB license.

The Application is available as a downloadable, fillable PDF file. PDF reader software, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, is needed to view or print the document. The Reader is available as a free download from the Adobe website.

To download the Reader, click here.

To access the Application, click CPS Application for Licensure.

Application Fee Payment

To pay the fee, click the Order button below.



If you have any questions or need assistance, please Contact Us.