APA offers two levels of certification — the Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) and the Certified Payroll Professional (CPP). The exams are administered at more than 300 locations throughout the United States and Canada.

It is advised that you download the FPC or CPP handbook and review the complete details before taking the exam. Visit the Certification section on APA’s website for more information.

Education and Experience Prerequisites

To apply for the FPC or CPP, you must meet all education and experience prerequisites outlined below:

Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC)

  • FPC exam is designed specifically for fundamental–level payroll practitioner, sales professionals, consultants, and others who support the payroll industry.
  • No eligibility requirements

Certified Payroll Professional (CPP)

  • CPP exam is designed for experienced payroll professionals, managers, and supervisors. It places emphasis on higher-level skills, including management and systems.
  • Must meet experience and education requirements. Visit here for CPP eligibility criteria.

Scheduling Your Exam

The exams are offered during two test windows in North America, in the spring and fall each year. International and Military-based exams are available on-demand throughout the year.


For more details on how to apply for your exam, visit the Certification section on the main APA website.

FPC and CPP Exam Schedule


Exam Testing Window Registration
Fall:  September 15 – October 13, 2018 July 10 – October 12, 2018
Exam Testing Window Registration
Spring:  March 23 – April 20, 2019 January 15 – April 19, 2019

CPP and FPC exams administered from September 15, 2018 through September 13, 2019, feature questions based on federal laws and regulations in effect as of January 1, 2018.


Mid-year legislative and regulatory changes are NOT reflected on that year’s exam.

About the Exams

  • 150 test questions
  • 3 hours to complete
  • Basic/Introductory
  • Textbook Knowledge
  • No eligibility requirements to test
  • 3-Year period to recertify
  • 190 test questions
  • 4 hours to complete
  • Mastery/Complex
  • Apply book and experience
  • Must meet eligibility criteria to test
  • 5-Year period to recertify
  • Must submit exam application and payment
  • Multiple Choice questions
  • Include calculations, supplement tables
  • Computer-based
  • Secure Pearson VUE Test Center

For the full exam content outline, policies and procedures, refer to the FPC or CPP Candidate Handbook.