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.
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.
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
Bachelor’s with further education, master’s preferred Degree
- Most Reported
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.
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|
|Merito Group LLC Controller||Maryland||$200,000|
|CINQ Recruitment Controller||Massachusetts||$200,000|
|Capital Search Group Controller||Maryland||$186,485|
|A-Line Staffing Controller||Mississippi||$170,000|
|Seattle Search Group Controller||Washington||$164,581|
|Michael Page US Controller||Indiana||$162,279|
|Murdock Martell Controller||California||$156,919|
|NextStep Recruiting Controller||Texas||$156,117|
|GSP International Controller||New Jersey||$155,350|
|Accounting Career Network Controller||Delaware||$154,919|
|firstPROPhiladelphia Controller||New Jersey||$153,833|
|Henderson Harbor Group Controller||New York||$151,482|
|Grayson Search Partners Controller||Illinois||$150,000|
|Dynamic, entrepreneurial Omaha company poised to double in size in next five years! $125-150k W2 Income! Controller||Nebraska||$150,000|
|Buxbaum HCS Controller||Nevada||$147,553|
|Accounting and Finance Controller||New York||$146,864|
|Parker and Lynch Controller||Nevada||$146,772|
|Sabio Systems Controller||New Mexico||$145,873|
- Nevada State Controller’s Office
- California State Controller’s Office: Unclaimed Property
- Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Official Site
|Career Name||Average Salary|
|Director of Nursing||$95,821|
|Business Intelligence Developer||$95,026|
|Disaster Recovery Manager||$94,956|
|Nursing Home Administrator||$93,462|