Career Development

What Does an Assistant Controller Do?

Find out what an assistant controller does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as an assistant controller.

Assistant controllers are the right-hand man or woman to the chief controller. They help with day-to-day operations and assist in making sure that everything runs smoothly. They may also be called upon to step into the role of chief controller if they’re absent for any reason.

Assistant controllers typically have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders, but they don’t usually make final decisions about how money is spent or which projects get funded. That’s up to the chief controller.

Assistant Controller Job Duties

Assistant controllers typically have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Recommending changes to accounting policies and procedures based on industry trends and best practices
  • Reviewing financial statements to identify potential issues or errors in accounting principles and methodology
  • Monitoring cash flow to ensure that bills are paid on time and that there is enough cash available to cover unexpected expenses
  • Preparing reports such as profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements for management use
  • Preparing tax returns, calculating taxes owed, and filing taxes with state and federal agencies
  • Coordinating with other departments, such as human resources or IT, to ensure that they have the information they need to perform their jobs effectively
  • Monitoring expenses and identifying opportunities for cost savings or increased efficiency
  • Reviewing financial data to analyze trends across industries and markets in order to make recommendations about possible investments
  • Maintaining records of company transactions, such as sales and purchases of inventory and accounts receivable

Assistant Controller Salary & Outlook

Assistant controllers’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the size and industry of the company. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of bonuses.

  • Median Annual Salary: $85,000 ($40.87/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $145,000 ($69.71/hour)

The employment of assistant controllers is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade.

Organizations will continue to hire controllers with knowledge of complex accounting rules and regulations. Organizations will also need controllers who can analyze data and identify cost savings and revenue enhancement opportunities.

Related: 17 Assistant Controller Interview Questions and Answers

Assistant Controller Job Requirements

The following are some of the requirements that are often needed to become an assistant controller:

Education: Assistant controllers need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or a related field. Some employers prefer candidates who have a master’s degree in accounting or business administration with a concentration in accounting. Relevant coursework includes accounting, business law, economics, finance, management and statistics.

Training & Experience: Assistant controllers typically receive on-the-job training from their supervisors or other experienced employees. This training may include learning how to use company software and computer programs, as well as how to perform daily tasks.

Certifications & Licenses: Certifications allow professionals to show their competence. Assistant controllers can get certified to gain more knowledge of their responsibilities and further advance their careers.

Assistant Controller Skills

Assistant controllers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Accounting skills: Accounting skills are another important skill for assistant managers. You may be responsible for handling the company’s finances, including paying employees, paying suppliers and making deposits. You may also be responsible for maintaining records of sales and inventory. Accounting skills can help you be an effective assistant manager.

Communication skills: As an assistant controller, you must be able to communicate effectively with others in the workplace. You may be in charge of relaying messages from management to employees or vice versa. You may also be in charge of communicating with customers over the phone or in person. Effective communication skills can help you to convey messages clearly and to understand messages from others.

Data analysis: As an assistant controller, you use data analysis skills to interpret financial data and make decisions based on the information you see. You use data analysis to review financial statements, interpret data from accounting software and analyze data to identify trends in the company’s financial health. You use data analysis to make decisions about budgeting, forecasting and other financial tasks.

Leadership: As an assistant controller, you may be responsible for supervising other employees. This means you should have strong leadership skills. Assistant controllers who have leadership skills can motivate their team members and help them grow professionally. You can also use your leadership skills to help your company achieve its goals.

Problem-solving: As an assistant controller, you may be responsible for solving complex problems. Your ability to identify the source of the problem and develop a solution can help you be an effective assistant controller. You may also be responsible for delegating tasks to other employees and ensuring that the company’s resources are used effectively.

Assistant Controller Work Environment

The work environment for an assistant controller is typically an office setting, although some travel may be required for meetings or to other company locations. The job is generally performed during regular business hours, although some overtime may be required during busy periods. The assistant controller works closely with the controller and other financial staff to ensure that the company’s financial records are accurate and up-to-date. This position requires a high level of accuracy and attention to detail, as well as the ability to work well under pressure.

Assistant Controller Trends

Here are three trends influencing how assistant controllers work. Assistant controllers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Technical Skills

As businesses become more complex, the need for assistant controllers with technical skills will increase. This is because many businesses are now relying on technology to run their operations, which requires a team of professionals who can manage and maintain these systems.

Assistant controllers who are able to understand and manage these systems will be in high demand, as they will be able to help businesses run more efficiently and effectively. In addition, they will be able to provide valuable support to other members of the accounting team, such as accountants and bookkeepers.

The Emergence of Data Analytics

The emergence of data analytics is a trend that is quickly changing the way businesses operate. By using data analytics, businesses can get a better understanding of how their products and services are being received by customers. This information can then be used to make changes that will improve the customer experience and drive sales.

As data analytics becomes more popular, assistant controllers will need to learn how to use this information to make decisions that will benefit their company. They will also need to be able to communicate the findings of data analytics to other members of the business community.

More Focus on Risk Management

Risk management is becoming an increasingly important focus for businesses across all industries. As companies become more reliant on technology, they are exposed to new types of risk that they need to be prepared to handle.

This trend is leading to an increased demand for assistant controllers who have expertise in risk management. Assistant controllers can utilize this trend by developing skills in areas such as data security and compliance. This will allow them to help businesses protect themselves from potential risks and ensure that they are in compliance with regulations.

How to Become an Assistant Controller

A career as an assistant controller can be a great way to get your foot in the door of the accounting field. As an assistant controller, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about all aspects of accounting and finance, including how businesses operate and how they make money. You’ll also gain experience working with people from different departments within a company, which will help you develop important skills such as communication and teamwork.

As you progress in your career, you may want to consider becoming a certified public accountant (CPA). This certification requires passing a series of exams on accounting and tax law, so it’s best to start preparing for it early in your career.

Advancement Prospects

The most common way to advance to the position of controller is to be promoted from within the organization, typically from the position of assistant controller. To be eligible for promotion, assistant controllers must have several years of experience working in accounting and finance, and they must have demonstrated strong leadership and management skills. In some cases, assistant controllers may also be required to have a master’s degree in business administration or a certified public accountant designation.

Assistant Controller Job Description Example

The Assistant Controller is responsible for assisting the Controller in the day-to-day operation of the accounting department. This position reports directly to the Controller and works closely with other members of the accounting team. The Assistant Controller will be responsible for assisting with the month-end close process, preparing journal entries, reconciling general ledger accounts, and assisting with the preparation of financial statements. This position will also be responsible for assisting with the annual audit and tax preparation. The ideal candidate will have a bachelor’s degree in accounting, 3-5 years of experience in an accounting role, and experience with QuickBooks.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Assist the Controller in all aspects of financial reporting, including but not limited to journal entries, account reconciliations, and month-end close
  • Prepare monthly sales tax returns and other regulatory filings as needed
  • Maintain the general ledger and ensure accuracy of financial statements
  • Assist with budgeting and forecasting processes
  • Perform ad hoc analysis as requested by senior management
  • Manage cash flow and prepare bank reconciliations
  • Supervise Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable functions
  • Ensure compliance with all internal controls and SOX requirements
  • Research technical accounting issues and draft position papers as needed
  • Train and develop staff members
  • Handle special projects as assigned
  • Serve as backup for the Controller in their absence

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in business, accounting, or related field
  • 5+ years proven accounting experience
  • Professional accounting certification, including CMA, CGA, or CA
  • Working knowledge of finance law and regulatory standards (GAAP)
  • Strong understanding of economic and banking processes

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • 3+ years experience as a senior-level accounting or finance manager
  • Strong working knowledge of detailed financial data analysis
  • Proven payroll experience, with a focus on streamlining accounting processes
  • Exemplary history of financial project management
  • Working knowledge of federal, state, and local tax compliance regulations and reporting
  • CPA highly preferred


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