What is A Paystub And What Should Be On It?

No more late nights of stalking the internet or asking on social media about places hiring. The tedious searching and anxiety-inducing interviews ended with a victorious job offer. 

Congratulations! You did it!

Now comes the paperwork, background check, and pre-employment training. Your first day came and went right along with Manic Monday.

Soon it’s time for the sweetness of payday. But what happens if you aren’t sure how to read your paystub? Maybe it’s your first gig, and you’re thinking, “what is a paystub?”

It’s okay. Read on to learn what’s a pay stub and what’s on it.

So What is a Paystub?

A paystub is an attached piece of paper to your paycheck. Most pay stubs include the employee’s name, employee number, employee address, employee job title, department of employment, employer’s name, employer’s address, and current pay period.   

An employee pay stub shows you how much money is earned and how much you get to keep.

Most pay stubs are broken down into two sections, earnings & deductions.

However, paystubs are detailed. The more money earned and deductions made the more information appears on the paystub. Therefore people in Human Resources often use a handy paystubcreator in to make their job easier.

Earnings and Deductions

The earnings section of a paystub itemizes the hours worked, current pay rate, and the gross pay for a period. The deductions section lists what is taken out of your gross pay by pre-tax deductions or post-tax deductions.


The hours an employee worked during the current pay period is shown. Depending on the employee’s position and company other accumulated time such as vacation time, sick time, overtime, holiday pay, and bonus appear too.

Pay Rate

The current pay rate an employee earns is shown. 

Gross Pay 

The gross pay is the total amount of money earned before any deductions are removed in a pay period.


The deductions section must include the federal income tax, FICA, and state income tax, and net pay.

Federal Income Tax

Federal Income Tax is withheld every pay period. The total yearly amount withheld is used for completing your Federal income tax forms.

FICA — Medicare and Social Security

Federal Insurance Contributions Act allows deductions to be used as contributions for Federal programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

State Income Tax

Most states collect an income tax on employee wages in addition to the Federal income tax.

Other Deductions (May Vary)

Depending on your job title and employment status, other deductions might come out of your paycheck too.

Health Insurance

If your employer provides health care insurance the deductions will appear in this section. The money used to pay the medical insurance premium gets deducted from pre-tax wages.

Retirement Savings

Not all retirement savings contributions look the same on a pay stub. There are many types of retirement programs like 401K, 403B, or a Pension. You can also open a retirement savings account, like a Roth IRA through your bank or credit union.

Check with your HR department to learn more about which retirement programs your employer uses. 

Net Pay

Many people skip to the net pay section on payday because it shows how much money you take home after all the deductions.

Keep Your Pay Stub

Now that we’ve answered the question what is a paystub you can begin saving yours. It’s a good idea to review your pay stub each pay period. It ensures there aren’t errors with your name, address, or net pay. If you do spot a mistake alert Human Resources immediately.

For information about how to grow your retirement savings check out the Value 101 section.