Career Job Guide |

The financial planners for the future, a Controller is an essential job position for any business and holds a promising future for job candidates seeking a finance-based career. Controllers can work in various settings, from non-profits to for-profit corporations. Both settings offer opportunities for advancement and growth that is estimated to continue to rise. Use this Controller job career guide to see if this career is the right fit for you.

What educational background do you need to become a Controller?

Most Controllers are required to hold at least a bachelor’s degree for their position, with a preference of it being in business, finance or a related field. Since a Controller is a position that’s crucial to the success of the company as a whole, many employers can also have a preference for candidates who hold a master’s degree when going through the hiring process. If you decide to pursue a master’s degree, the most promising for the position of Controller are those in business administration, economics or finance.

A Controller position is considered in most corporate settings as a senior position and top candidates are also expected to have 5-10 years of experience working in finance, in addition to their educational degrees. If that amount of experience isn’t possessed by a candidate yet, there are Junior Controller positions that can allow a candidate to learn the basics of the role while getting the necessary job experience to grow into the Controller position.


What types of jobs are available for Controllers?

Controllers have the opportunity to work for multiple different industries and aren’t tied to following one career path to success. While many Controllers work for the Big Four firms (Deloitte, Ernst&Young, PwC and KPMG) there are thousands of positions that need to be filled, which leaves plenty of space for candidates who might have less traditional backgrounds. There are generally two different environments where a Controller will work, a smaller corporate setting or a larger one.

A Controller who works with a smaller company is going will be responsible for carrying the company’s accounting work while usually working on their own, as opposed to being with a team. Their duties will include bookkeeping, accounts payable and receivable, evaluating financial statements and managing tax documents.

A Controller who works for a larger company may have many of the same responsibilities but they can delegate tasks to a team of accounting professionals. In a larger company, a Controller often works under the direct supervision of the CFO and reports to them on the financial future and planning for the business. While working for a larger company, it’s important for a Controller to also have the skillset to manage the accounting team as a whole. To manage effectively, there may also be travel required for Controllers who work in a larger corporate setting.


What are the biggest markets for the Controller field?

The U.S. states which have the most potential for finding a Controller job are New York, Deleware, Massachusettes, Washington and Connecticut. Out of these states, the highest paying U.S. city is Seattle, WA with an average Controller salary being of $109,509. Next on the list of highest salaries are those from Boston, MA, San Jose, CA, New York, NY and Portland, ME.


Top job opportunities for a Controller can be found in real estate, hospitality, healthcare, construction and retail industries. The top five U.S. companies for Controller job positions, on average, are Robert Half International, Aramark, Holiday Inn Express, Randstad USA and Mariott International. The current highest paying company for a Controller position in the U.S. is Superior Group, with a salary of $148,060. This is followed by Bush Brothers and company, Niagra, Xylem and Michael Page International.


What kind of shifts can I expect to work as a Controller?

Shifts that are available for this job position are typically the standard corporate shift of 9 am-5 pm, with most Controllers working 40 hour weeks. Sometimes these hours can extend, but the work schedule is generally kept to weekdays, as well. There is the potential for positions as Controllers to be remote, as well.

What are the perks of working as a Controller?

Stability is one of the greatest perks of being a Controller with the average length of holding a position being five years. The potential for upward mobility in a Controller position is also higher than average with the average of moving into an Accounting Manager or Finance Manager.

In regards to salary, the average in the U.S. is about $100,000.00. Depending on the size of the company and the experience of the Controller, however, the annual salary can reach upward of $250,000. Benefits will vary depending on the job, but with full-time employment complete health, dental and vision benefits are generally provided by the hiring company. Projected growth for Controller jobs for the 2016-2026 decade is 19% which is much faster than many other career paths.

What are the pitfalls of working as a Controller?

A controller position is a desk position which means that you will be seated a majority of the time. To counter any negative effects of this work arrangement, you may want to look into using a standing desk or working at a remote location part of the week.

Since this is a role that requires direct interactions with multiple team members, you’ll want to make sure that your interpersonal communication skills are finely honed, as well. Being able to clearly and directly express your ideas, and the data that you’ve collected is an essential skill for a Controller to possess.

What are some external resources for becoming a Controller?

To enhance your resume for Controller applications you’ll want to pursue additional certifications such as Certified Public Accountant qualificationsCertified Management Accountant or Chartered Global Management Accountant qualifications (CGMA).

For more information, or to prepare for these certifications you can find preparatory courses through the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.




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