Career Development

What Does a Controller Do?

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

Controllers are the people who keep an organization running smoothly. They ensure that everything is being done properly, monitor performance to make sure it’s meeting expectations, and resolve any issues that may arise.

Controllers commonly work in a variety of industries, but they’re especially common in large corporations or organizations with multiple departments or branches. Their duties can vary widely depending on their role within the company; some controllers may be responsible for overseeing all financial activities while others might focus more on human resources or other administrative tasks.

Controller Job Duties

A controller typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Monitoring the budget to ensure that expenditures do not exceed revenues
  • Reviewing financial reports to identify any trends or issues that may affect future performance
  • Working with management to develop budgets and monitor expenditures to ensure they are in line with goals
  • Analyzing data to determine the best methods of improving operations or reducing costs
  • Ensuring the integrity of accounting records by reviewing transactions for accuracy and ensuring compliance with federal regulations
  • Recommending new policies or procedures to improve efficiency or effectiveness
  • Reviewing reports on the performance of specific departments within an organization
  • Preparing tax returns and analyzing financial information related to taxes
  • Monitoring cash flow to identify any problems that may arise with collections or payments

Controller Salary & Outlook

The salary of a controller can 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: $105,000 ($50.48/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $153,000 ($73.56/hour)

The employment of human resource managers is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade.

Employment growth will be driven by the continued need for human resource managers in organizations across all industries. Organizations will continue to hire human resource managers to oversee the implementation of new policies and procedures, such as those governing employee benefits or equal employment opportunity.

Controller Job Requirements

A controller typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Most employers require controller candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or business administration. Some employers prefer candidates who have a master’s degree in accounting or business administration. Relevant coursework includes accounting, finance, economics, business law and business management.

Training & Experience: Many companies will train a new controller in the specific processes and procedures of the company. This training may be part of the onboarding process for a new controller. Training may include shadowing a current controller or working with a supervisor to learn the specific processes of the company.

Certifications & Licenses: Controllers are not required to have any particular certification to acquire their position. That said, there are certifications available for financial professionals who wish to demonstrate their competence in a specific area or to advance their career.

Controller Skills

Controllers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Leadership: Leadership skills are another important aspect of interpersonal skills. As a manager, you may be responsible for leading a team of employees. You can use your interpersonal skills to motivate your team and encourage them to work together. You can also use your interpersonal skills to help your team develop their interpersonal skills.

Communication: Communication is another skill that can help you develop your interpersonal skills. Communication is the act of exchanging information with others. You can use your communication skills to help you develop relationships with your coworkers and customers. For example, you can use communication to help you build trust with your customers and help them understand your products or services.

Problem-solving: Problem-solving skills are also important in the workplace, especially for those in leadership roles. You can use your problem-solving skills to help you and your team find solutions to challenges and overcome obstacles. You can also use these skills to help your team find the best solutions to workplace issues.

Organization: Organization is another skill that can help you be a better team member. As a manager, you may be responsible for planning and organizing meetings, events and other company functions. Being able to plan and organize your work and your team’s work can help you be more efficient and effective.

Teamwork: Teamwork is another skill that can help you be a better leader. You can use teamwork to help you and your team members work together to achieve common goals. You can also use teamwork to help you delegate tasks and motivate others.

Controller Work Environment

Controllers work in the financial department of an organization and are responsible for its overall financial management. They develop and oversee the implementation of financial policies and procedures, prepare financial reports, and monitor the organization’s financial performance. Controllers also work with other managers to develop long-term financial plans and budgets. They typically work in office settings, although they may travel to meet with clients or attend conferences. Controllers usually work full time and may work long hours to meet deadlines or to resolve financial issues.

Controller Trends

Here are three trends influencing how controllers work. 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 Greater Transparency

The need for greater transparency is a trend that is quickly gaining traction in the business world. This trend is driven by the public’s increasing demand for information about how companies are run and what they do with their money.

As a controller, you can capitalize on this trend by becoming more transparent yourself. This means providing detailed financial reports to shareholders and investors, as well as being open to questions about how your company spends its money.

More Focus on Cybersecurity

As businesses become increasingly reliant on technology, the need for controllers who have expertise in cybersecurity will grow.

Controller professionals will need to be able to protect against cyberattacks by implementing strong security measures and monitoring networks for signs of trouble. They will also need to be familiar with current laws and regulations regarding data privacy and protection.

Greater Use of Cloud-Based Solutions

Cloud-based solutions are becoming increasingly popular among businesses due to their many benefits. These include reduced costs, increased efficiency, and improved collaboration between employees.

As cloud-based solutions become more common, controllers will need to learn how to use them effectively in order to keep up with the competition. This includes learning how to manage data in the cloud, as well as understanding the legal implications of using cloud-based services.

How to Become a Controller

A controller career can be very rewarding, but it’s important to consider all the factors that will influence your success. One of the most important things is to find a company that matches your values and culture. You should also make sure that you have the right skills for the job.

If you want to become a controller, there are several ways to get started. You can start by getting an accounting degree, then working as an accountant or auditor. You can also take courses in business administration and finance, which will help you understand how businesses work. Finally, you can gain experience in corporate accounting by working in a variety of roles within a company.

Advancement Prospects

There are many ways to advance in the field of accounting and finance. One of the best is to obtain an advanced degree, such as a master’s in business administration with a concentration in accounting or finance. This will give you the skills and knowledge you need to move into management positions. Alternatively, you could become a certified public accountant or a certified financial planner. These credentials will give you the ability to provide services to clients in a variety of settings.

Controller is a high-level position, so advancement prospects will depend largely on the size of the company and the specific industry. In small companies, the controller may be promoted to chief financial officer. In larger companies, controllers may move into corporate finance, where they oversee the financial operations of the entire company. They may also move into investment banking or venture capital.

Controller Job Description Example

As the Controller at [CompanyX], you will be responsible for the financial health of the organization. You will oversee the accounting department and produce financial reports to summarize and forecast the organization’s financial position. In addition, you will be responsible for developing and implementing financial policies and procedures. The Controller position is a critical role within the organization, and we are looking for a candidate with the experience and skills necessary to be successful in this role.

The ideal candidate for this position will have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance, and a minimum of five years of experience in a similar role. CPA or MBA preferred. The candidate must be detail-oriented, analytical, and have the ability to think strategically. In addition, the candidate must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Serve as the primary financial decision-maker for the company
  • Develop and maintain accounting principles, practices, and procedures to ensure accurate and timely financial statements
  • Oversee all accounts, ledgers, and reporting systems to ensure compliance with appropriate GAAP standards and regulatory requirements
  • Direct all aspects of the organization’s short- and long-term financial planning and analysis activities
  • Coordinate and prepare all required federal, state, and local tax filings
  • Manage cash flow and forecasting, working with other departments to ensure adequate funding for ongoing operations and future projects
  • Evaluate and recommend insurance coverage for the company
  • Negotiate and manage relationships with vendors, suppliers, and other business partners
  • Supervise and train accounting staff, including setting goals and providing feedback and mentorship
  • Prepare monthly, quarterly, and annual reports detailing financial performance and progress against budget
  • Serve on the executive team, providing input on strategic decisions and initiatives
  • Perform ad hoc financial analysis and modeling as needed

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in business, accounting, or related field
  • 10+ 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

  • 5+ 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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