Reading Time: 12 minutes
Posted On: April 15, 2018 by Henry R. Steele

The following article discusses the career path of Controller. Learn about how to become one, education requirements, job duties, traits and qualities, national salary outlook as well as top national employers of Controllers.

Job Duties

A controller is someone who manages a company’s financial departments. These include all finance-related departments, such as audit, budget, and accounting. They usually have very wide-ranging responsibilities, including such things as writing financial prospectuses, balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and other critical financial reports. Additionally, they must focus on financial predictions in terms of how the company will perform. Furthermore, they must write and submit any and all state and federal regulatory reports.

Unsurprisingly, these professionals must have an in-depth understanding of financial reporting. They are problem solvers with excellent mathematical skills and great communicators. Usually, they have a background in business, finance, or accounting and then obtain advanced certifications. Additionally, in order to be a controller, most will have worked for at least 10 years in a supervisory role.

Other duties of a controller are:

  • To present financial reports, including on potential areas of risk, to senior management teams.
  • To manage financial analysis and reporting, oversee the accounting practices, and prepare consolidated financial statements. These include tax compliance schedules.
  • To make sure that policies and procedures are in place that fully comply with federal and state regulatory requirements as well as the relevant professional standards.
  • To put internal controls in place and maintain them in order to ensure that the financial infrastructure is supported.

Where We Work

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1,397,700 accountants and auditors, the profession most closely related to that of the controller, in 2016. The largest employers of these professionals are:

  • Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services – 25%
  • Government – 8%
  • Finance and insurance – 8%
  • Management of companies and enterprises – 7%
  • Self-employed workers – 7%

How to Become

The role of the controller is unique, which means many have different educational backgrounds. However, there are some qualifications and skills that most of them share. For instance, they require a financial or accounting bachelor’s degree, although a master’s is preferred, and particularly the Master of Business Administration (MBA). Many also have Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation.

It is common for controllers to start their career as accountants or auditors in the Big Four firms. They then become assistant controllers and work their way up. Once qualified, they can work in public organizations, for profit businesses, or nonprofits. This means it is a very diverse role that can suit anyone with an interest in finance and accounting.

Education Requirements

The position is highly analytical in nature and requires a solid understanding of business and accounting concepts. Controllers must also have strong analytical skills, obtained through years of work in auditing and accounting. Because their job is to reconcile the budget of their organization with the actual outcomes and to report on this to the executive team, they must also be able to explain how they calculate numbers and how the processes work.

A controller is a member of the leadership team. This means they also require a number of soft skills that enable them to garner respect, motivate, and organize their staff. Courses in business leadership, behavioral studies, and managerial finance are therefore recommended. It is also common for these professionals to continue to develop their skills and knowledge by taking further leadership courses.

The MBA and CPA designation are the most commonly obtained. Others become Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) or Certified Management Accountants (CMA).

Traits & Qualities

The most effective controllers have the following traits to some degree or other:

– Strong analytical skills
– Excellent communication skills
– Highly detail oriented
– Great mathematical skills
– Organizational skills

Minimum Education

Bachelor’s with further education, master’s preferred Degree

National Salary

The national average salary estimate for Controller was $94,750. This number is estimated from over 6,182,936 employees, users past and present job advertisements from Indeed.com. This equates to an hourly salary of $49.35 and monthly of $7,896.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$31,000

$192,000

Salary Distribution

Salary by State

The following section lists Controller salaries in each state around the country. The figures are based on the total number of job postings through Indeed.com. For example, DC had the largest quoted salary of $113,452 while Wyoming had the smallest quoted salary of $56,354.

Alaska Kentucky New York
Alabama Louisiana Ohio
Arkansas Massachusetts Oklahoma
Arizona Maryland Oregon
California Maine Pennsylvania
Colorado Michigan Rhode Island
Connecticut Minnesota South Carolina
DC Missouri South Dakota
Delaware Mississippi Tennessee
Florida Montana Texas
Georgia North Carolina Utah
Hawaii North Dakota Virginia
Iowa Nebraska Vermont
Idaho New Hampshire Washington
Illinois New Jersey Wisconsin
Indiana New Mexico West Virginia
Kansas Nevada Wyoming
Alaska$87,130 Rank: 22nd

The average salary ranks 22nd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Mendenhall Auto Center, Air Force Nonappropriated Fund (AFNAF) Services Career Program, and City & Borough of Juneau.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$33,000

$165,000

Salary Distribution
Alabama$83,427 Rank: 31st

The average salary ranks 31st among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Career Brokers, Inc., PANGEATWO, Vaco, and ITAC Solutions, LLC.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$34,000

$153,000

Salary Distribution
Arkansas$80,164 Rank: 41st

The average salary ranks 41st among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Carter Recruiting and Associates, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Arkansas Department Of Human Services, and Accountemps.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$26,000

$164,000

Salary Distribution
Arizona$86,714 Rank: 25th

The average salary ranks 25th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Parker+Lynch, Headfarmer, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Confidential: Real Estate Company.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$33,000

$164,000

Salary Distribution
California$109,237 Rank: 3rd

The average salary ranks 3rd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Murdock Martell, Buxbaum HCS, VincentBenjamin, and Enlightsearch.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$40,000

$211,000

Salary Distribution
Colorado$88,786 Rank: 20th

The average salary ranks 20th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like G. Peterson Consulting Group, Inc., Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Now CFO, and Regis University.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$31,000

$174,000

Salary Distribution
Connecticut$100,734 Rank: 6th

The average salary ranks 6th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Atlas Search LLC, Thomas Byrne Associates, and JWM Group, LLC.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$36,000

$198,000

Salary Distribution
DC$113,452 Rank: 1st

The average salary ranks 1st among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Capital Search Group, Casino Careers, CyberCoders, and Medical Nonprofit.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$44,000

$214,000

Salary Distribution
Delaware$99,944 Rank: 9th

The average salary ranks 9th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like AppleOne, Aerotek, Accountemps, and Accounting Career Network.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$32,000

$204,000

Salary Distribution
Florida$89,570 Rank: 17th

The average salary ranks 17th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Idea Recruitment, South Florida Recruiters, Taylor White Specialized Staffing Services, Inc., and Ferreri Search.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$33,000

$173,000

Salary Distribution
Georgia$89,067 Rank: 19th

The average salary ranks 19th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Execusource, Inc., ExecuSource, The Royak Group, and The Royak Group Inc..

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$32,000

$173,000

Salary Distribution
Hawaii$85,045 Rank: 28th

The average salary ranks 28th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like All US Jobs, NewSat North America, LLC, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Express Employment Professionals.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$35,000

$156,000

Salary Distribution
Iowa$79,268 Rank: 43rd

The average salary ranks 43rd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Aureus Group, Palmer Group, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Accountemps.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$27,000

$157,000

Salary Distribution
Idaho$75,969 Rank: 48th

The average salary ranks 48th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Accountemps, and University of Idaho.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$20,000

$168,000

Salary Distribution
Illinois$100,035 Rank: 8th

The average salary ranks 8th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Grayson Search Partners, SBI Partners, CFS, Inc., and CFS Inc..

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$37,000

$193,000

Salary Distribution
Indiana$80,425 Rank: 40th

The average salary ranks 40th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Philips Recruiting Services, Pinnacle Partners, Vaco, and Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$27,000

$161,000

Salary Distribution
Kansas$83,356 Rank: 32nd

The average salary ranks 32nd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Cameron Craig Group, Jim Crumpley & Associates, and fulltimeGiGS.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$32,000

$157,000

Salary Distribution
Kentucky$83,278 Rank: 33rd

The average salary ranks 33rd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like HR Affiliates, Talis Group Inc., Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Angel Group.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$24,000

$177,000

Salary Distribution
Louisiana$81,687 Rank: 38th

The average salary ranks 38th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Career Brokers, Inc., Nathan Paul Finance & Accounting, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Advantage Personnel.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$28,000

$162,000

Salary Distribution
Massachusetts$105,355 Rank: 5th

The average salary ranks 5th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like CINQ Recruitment, Brook Street Company Profile, Manning Personnel Group Inc, and Boylston Search Associates.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$37,000

$207,000

Salary Distribution
Maryland$100,139 Rank: 7th

The average salary ranks 7th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Bob Bell Chevrolet of Bel Air, Sequoia Consulting, CPS Recruitment, and Merito Group LLC.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$36,000

$194,000

Salary Distribution
Maine$78,912 Rank: 44th

The average salary ranks 44th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like BerryDunn (Client), Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Goodwill Industries of Northern New England.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$29,000

$153,000

Salary Distribution
Michigan$86,988 Rank: 24th

The average salary ranks 24th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Parker+Lynch, UHY LLP, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Statewide-Staffing.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$29,000

$174,000

Salary Distribution
Minnesota$91,464 Rank: 15th

The average salary ranks 15th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Creative Financial Staffing, JP Staffing, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Robert Half.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$34,000

$176,000

Salary Distribution
Missouri$85,052 Rank: 27th

The average salary ranks 27th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Burchard and Associates, ProEnlist, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Accounting Career Consultants.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$28,000

$172,000

Salary Distribution
Mississippi$89,883 Rank: 16th

The average salary ranks 16th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Vaco, StaffPointe, and A-Line Staffing.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$26,000

$192,000

Salary Distribution
Montana$61,820 Rank: 50th

The average salary ranks 50th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like LC Staffing and Platypus Co..

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$16,000

$137,000

Salary Distribution
North Carolina$88,438 Rank: 21st

The average salary ranks 21st among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like BeardowAdams, Inc., Sherpa LLC, Maganti IT Resources LLC, and The Bolton Group.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$31,000

$175,000

Salary Distribution
North Dakota$63,904 Rank: 49th

The average salary ranks 49th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Nigel Frank International.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$15,000

$145,000

Salary Distribution
Nebraska$81,935 Rank: 37th

The average salary ranks 37th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Lutz, Noll Human Resource Services, Aureus Group, and Must have expertise with Multi-State Payroll – this company is growing coast to coast! ** Hemphill Exclusive!.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$26,000

$168,000

Salary Distribution
New Hampshire$80,744 Rank: 39th

The average salary ranks 39th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting, BizRez Recruiters, CyberCoders, and Creative Financial Staffing.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$26,000

$166,000

Salary Distribution
New Jersey$110,589 Rank: 2nd

The average salary ranks 2nd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like GSP International, firstPROPhiladelphia, Professional Search Network, and Horizon Healthcare Staffing.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$41,000

$212,000

Salary Distribution
New Mexico$84,540 Rank: 30th

The average salary ranks 30th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Nigel Frank International, Parker and Lynch, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Accountemps.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$25,000

$179,000

Salary Distribution
Nevada$94,101 Rank: 12th

The average salary ranks 12th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like All US Jobs, My New Recruiter, Kula Consulting, and Savvy Legal Recruiting.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$31,000

$190,000

Salary Distribution
New York$105,409 Rank: 4th

The average salary ranks 4th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Henderson Harbor Group, Accounting and Finance, Faststream Recruitment, INC, and Addition Management, LLC.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$32,000

$219,000

Salary Distribution
Ohio$84,722 Rank: 29th

The average salary ranks 29th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like NORTH STAR, Endevis, Vaco, and North Peak Recruiting.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$35,000

$155,000

Salary Distribution
Oklahoma$87,100 Rank: 23rd

The average salary ranks 23rd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Parker+Lynch, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, DirectConnect, and ProRecruiters.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$30,000

$172,000

Salary Distribution
Oregon$89,501 Rank: 18th

The average salary ranks 18th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Austin Allen Company, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, State of Oregon, and BolyWelch.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$37,000

$165,000

Salary Distribution
Pennsylvania$93,351 Rank: 13th

The average salary ranks 13th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting, firstPROIncPhiladelphia, Laurus Group, and Xplora Search Group.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$31,000

$189,000

Salary Distribution
Rhode Island$82,703 Rank: 36th

The average salary ranks 36th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Randstad Professionals, and Kforce Finance and Accounting.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$26,000

$171,000

Salary Distribution
South Carolina$82,956 Rank: 34th

The average salary ranks 34th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like THE BEACH HOUSE, Nigel Frank International, Cypress Hospitality Group, and Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$33,000

$154,000

Salary Distribution
South Dakota$77,033 Rank: 46th

The average salary ranks 46th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Spherion, Express Employment Professionals, and Key Staffing.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$26,000

$154,000

Salary Distribution
Tennessee$82,740 Rank: 35th

The average salary ranks 35th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Millennium Search, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Protech Systems Group, Inc., and Marcum Search LLC.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$32,000

$155,000

Salary Distribution
Texas$96,115 Rank: 11th

The average salary ranks 11th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like NextStep Recruiting, Aggreko, 3coast, and CIG.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$32,000

$192,000

Salary Distribution
Utah$77,781 Rank: 45th

The average salary ranks 45th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like PrincePerelson & Associates, Nigel Frank International, CyberCoders, and Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$28,000

$151,000

Salary Distribution
Virginia$96,320 Rank: 10th

The average salary ranks 10th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Him Tech Inc, Kforce Finance and Accounting, and Capital Search Group.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$33,000

$192,000

Salary Distribution
Vermont$79,659 Rank: 42nd

The average salary ranks 42nd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Spherion, and Clinical Management Consultants.

  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$15,000

$197,000

Salary Distribution
Washington$92,815 Rank: 14th

The average salary ranks 14th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Gourmondo Catering & Caf Company, Ocean Gold Seafood, and Seattle Search Group.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$31,000

$186,000

Salary Distribution
Wisconsin$86,199 Rank: 26th

The average salary ranks 26th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Extension, Inc., Parker+Lynch, JRP Group, and Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$38,000

$153,000

Salary Distribution
West Virginia$76,754 Rank: 47th

The average salary ranks 47th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

  • .
  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$24,000

$159,000

Salary Distribution
Wyoming$56,354 Rank: 51st

The average salary ranks 51st among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like U.S. Air Force.

  • .
  • .
  • Most Reported
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

$14,000

$134,000

Salary Distribution

Top 20 National Employers

According to Indeed.com, the following states had employers looking to hire a Controller. The quoted salary figure represents the average salary from all job postings by this employer.

Employer Name Location Average Salary

Learn More

Related Careers

Career Name Average Salary
Henry R. Steele
Henry R. Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of BusinessStudent.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.Follow on Twitter.com

As Seen On

BusinessStudent.com provides students of business with the opportunities to get ahead in their career.

“It doesn't matter how many times you have failed, you only have to be right once.” - Mark Cuban