Job Search

Accounting Director vs. Controller: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

The accounting profession offers many opportunities for career growth. Two common positions in this field are that of an accounting director and a controller. Though these positions share some similarities, there are several key differences between them.

In this article, we discuss the differences between an accounting director and a controller, and we provide additional accounting professions you may be interested in pursuing.

What is an Accounting Director?

Accounting Directors are responsible for leading and managing the accounting team of an organization. They oversee the team’s daily operations to ensure that all financial reporting is accurate and compliant with regulatory requirements. Accounting Directors develop and implement accounting policies and procedures to streamline the accounting process and improve efficiencies. They also manage the budgeting and forecasting process to ensure that the organization has the necessary financial resources to meet its objectives. In addition, Accounting Directors liaise with external auditors to ensure that the organization’s financial statements are free of material misstatements.

What is a Controller?

Controllers are responsible for leading an organization’s accounting department and ensuring that all financial reporting is accurate and compliant with regulatory requirements. They oversee the work of accounting staff and may be involved in the preparation of financial statements, tax returns, and budgets. Controllers also develop and implement internal controls to safeguard assets and ensure the accuracy of financial reporting. In larger organizations, controllers may report to the chief financial officer (CFO) or another senior executive.

Accounting Director vs. Controller

Here are the main differences between an accounting director and a controller.

Job Duties

Accounting directors oversee the entire accounting department, so their job duties vary depending on the size of the company. They may hire and manage accountants, bookkeepers and other accounting staff, set performance goals for employees, develop training programs and evaluate employee performance. Accounting directors also monitor financial operations to ensure they’re in compliance with government regulations and company policies. This includes ensuring that all accounting processes are accurate and complete and that financial records are secure.

Controllers have more detailed responsibilities related to accounting. They oversee the creation and maintenance of financial records and reports, including budgets, P&L statements and tax filings. Controllers also make decisions about which accounting software systems to use and determine how to best implement accounting procedures. They often work closely with other departments to ensure that they understand the needs of those departments and can provide them with useful financial information.

Job Requirements

To become an accounting director or controller, you need a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, business administration or a related field. You may also need to have a master’s degree in accounting or business administration, depending on the size of the company you work for and your level of experience. In addition, you must be licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). To obtain this license, you must pass the Uniform CPA Examination administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Work Environment

Accounting directors and controllers typically work in different environments. Accounting directors often work in an office setting, but they may also travel to meet with clients or attend conferences. They may have a team of accountants who report to them, so they can spend time training their employees on new processes and procedures.

Controllers usually work in an office environment where they manage the accounting department. They may also travel to visit clients or attend conferences. Controllers may also work overtime to ensure that all financial records are accurate for reporting purposes.


Both accounting directors and controllers use financial analysis skills to examine an organization’s financial statements and identify areas of improvement. They also develop budgets and forecast future income and expenses. However, their responsibilities can differ.

An accounting director typically oversees a team of accountants and is responsible for ensuring that the department meets its deadlines and goals. They may also be involved in developing new accounting policies and procedures. A controller is usually more focused on the day-to-day operations of the accounting department and may have less involvement in strategic planning.

Both of these positions require excellent communication skills. Accounting directors often need to present their findings to upper management, while controllers may need to explain complex financial concepts to employees who are not familiar with them. Strong writing skills are also important for both positions, as they often need to prepare reports.


The average salary for an accounting director is $125,949 per year, while the average salary for a controller is $127,160 per year. Both of these positions may see their salaries vary depending on the size of the company, the industry in which they work and their level of experience.


Merchandiser vs. Buyer: What Are the Differences?

Back to Job Search

Principal vs. Teacher: What Are the Differences?