Career Development

What Does a Project Controller Do?

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

Project managers are responsible for overseeing the creation of a product or service. They commonly work on projects that are too large or complex to be handled by one person, and they coordinate the efforts of multiple individuals (including designers, engineers, etc.) to ensure that everything comes together smoothly at the end.

Project managers may also be responsible for managing the budget for their project. This means tracking expenses, requesting additional funds when necessary, and ensuring that no money is wasted along the way.

Project Controller Job Duties

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

  • Monitoring the project’s progress to ensure that it is progressing according to schedule and budget, while identifying possible problems that may occur in the future
  • Providing regular updates on the status of projects to key stakeholders, including executives and project team members
  • Communicating with suppliers or other vendors to ensure that they are meeting their contractual obligations
  • Preparing reports on project status and finances for management review
  • Developing and monitoring budgets for projects based on estimates provided by project managers
  • Coordinating with other departments to ensure that all materials are available when needed for projects
  • Monitoring contract compliance and communicating with contractors regarding changes that need to be made to comply with contractual obligations
  • Managing all aspects of project accounting, including billing clients for services provided and collecting payments from them
  • Preparing reports for management about the status of projects

Project Controller Salary & Outlook

Project controller 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: $92,500 ($44.47/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $135,000 ($64.9/hour)

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

Demand for project controllers will increase as firms seek to improve their productivity and efficiency. As companies continue to outsource projects to other countries, they will need project controllers to monitor the work and ensure that it meets quality standards.

Related: Project Controller Interview Questions and Answers

Project Controller Job Requirements

A project controller typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Project controllers are typically required to have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as business administration, finance or engineering. Some employers prefer project controllers to have a master’s degree in business administration (MBA). An MBA is a two-year program that includes coursework and a final project.

Training & Experience: Project managers often start in entry-level positions, such as a project coordinator or a junior project manager. These positions provide on-the-job training in the skills and knowledge required for a project manager. Training in these positions may last from a few months to a year, depending on the company and the role.

Certifications & Licenses: Project controllers don’t need a certification to get work, but earning one can demonstrate your dedication to the role and help you stand out from other candidates.

Project Controller Skills

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

Financial skills: As a project manager, you may be responsible for managing budgets, tracking expenses and forecasting costs. Having strong financial skills can help you make informed decisions about your projects and their associated costs. You may also be responsible for creating and maintaining a budget for your team. Having financial skills can help you manage your team’s finances effectively.

Communication: Project managers communicate with many different people throughout the workday. They need to be able to convey information in a way that everyone understands. They also need to be able to listen to feedback and answer questions. Effective communication can help you build relationships with your team members and keep everyone informed about the project’s status.

Leadership: Leadership skills can be an important aspect of being a project manager. You may be responsible for overseeing a team of several other project managers, so demonstrating leadership skills can be important. You can use your leadership skills to motivate your team, inspire them to work hard and help them overcome challenges.

Organization: Organization is another important skill for project managers. You may be responsible for managing several projects at once, so you need to be able to keep track of all the details for each project. Organization skills can also help you keep your team on track and ensure they complete their tasks on time.

Problem-solving: Problem-solving skills can help you find solutions to challenges that arise during a project. You might use problem-solving skills to find alternative methods for completing a task or to find ways to overcome obstacles that delay a project. Being able to identify potential issues and develop solutions can help you keep projects on track and ensure they remain within budget.

Project Controller Work Environment

Project controllers work in a variety of settings, including office buildings, factories, and construction sites. They typically work a regular 40-hour week, although they may occasionally work overtime to meet deadlines. Project controllers typically work on teams with other professionals, such as engineers, architects, and construction managers. They may also interact with clients, vendors, and other stakeholders. Because project controllers must be able to effectively communicate with people from a variety of backgrounds, they must have strong interpersonal skills.

Project Controller Trends

Here are three trends influencing how project controllers work. Project 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

Project controllers are increasingly being asked to do more than just manage projects. They are now being asked to take on more technical roles, such as data analysis and reporting.

This trend is due to the increasing demand for project controllers who have a strong understanding of technology and how to use it to improve business operations. By developing these skills, project controllers can become even more valuable members of their teams.

The Emergence of Agile Project Management

Agile project management has emerged as a popular method for managing projects in recent years. This approach focuses on quickly adapting to changes in order to stay ahead of the competition.

As agile project management becomes more common, project controllers will need to learn how to work within this framework. This includes learning how to manage deadlines and prioritize tasks effectively. In addition, project controllers will need to be able to communicate effectively with team members in order to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

More Focus on Risk Management

Risk management is becoming an increasingly important focus for businesses across all industries. This is because risk can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line, and can be difficult to predict or control.

As project controllers are responsible for managing projects, they are in a unique position to identify and mitigate risks before they become too costly. By developing a better understanding of risk management, project controllers can help their companies avoid potential problems and keep them on track towards success.

How to Become a Project Controller

A project manager career can be a great way to use your skills in a variety of industries. No matter what type of project you’re working on, there are some basic principles that will help you be successful.

First, it’s important to understand the scope of the project and how it fits into the bigger picture. This means understanding the goals and objectives, as well as the constraints and limitations. You also need to know who is involved in the project and their roles and responsibilities.

Next, you need to develop a plan for achieving the project’s goals and objectives. This includes creating a schedule with milestones and deadlines, assigning tasks to team members, and monitoring progress. Finally, you need to monitor the project’s progress and make adjustments as needed to stay on track.

Advancement Prospects

There are many different paths that a project controller can take for career advancement. Some project controllers may move up within their current organization, taking on more responsibility and managing larger projects. Others may choose to start their own consulting business, offering their services to multiple clients. Still others may decide to become certified project management professionals (PMP), which can open up new opportunities and higher salaries. Whichever path is chosen, project controllers who are able to successfully complete projects on time and within budget will have the best prospects for advancement.

Project Controller Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we are committed to the success of our clients and projects. To ensure we are always moving forward, we need a project controller who can monitor, review, and report on the progress of our projects. The ideal candidate will have experience in project management, as well as financial analysis and reporting. He or she will be able to identify risks and issues early on, and work with the project manager to develop mitigation plans. The project controller will also be responsible for preparing and presenting project status reports to the executive team.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Serve as the primary point of contact for all project financial matters
  • Develop and maintain detailed project budgets, including cost tracking, forecasting, and variance analysis
  • Review invoices and purchase orders for accuracy and compliance with contract terms
  • Process payments in a timely manner to avoid delays in project progress
  • Monitor project cash flow and prepare regular reports for management
  • Work with project managers to develop accurate estimates of future costs
  • Identify opportunities for cost savings and process improvements
  • Prepare monthly accruals and journal entries
  • Perform ad hoc analysis as requested by management
  • Assist with the development and implementation of new accounting and finance policies and procedures
  • Train new staff on project financial management processes
  • Maintain up-to-date knowledge of relevant laws and regulations

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in business, accounting, finance, or related field
  • 5+ years experience in an accounting or finance role
  • Proven experience with project management software, including Microsoft Project and Basecamp
  • Advanced proficiency in Microsoft Excel
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Strong attention to detail

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • MBA or other advanced degree
  • CPA or other professional accounting certification
  • Experience working in a global organization
  • Fluency in another language


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