ControllerJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends
A Controller typically oversees the accounting department at a company where they may manage accountants, credit managers, payroll managers, tax managers, and others. They are responsible for all finance-related activities for a business. They might prepare budgets or handle billing, payroll, or taxes. Controllers must have in-depth knowledge of local and state laws and regulations and a deep understanding of economic principles, financial markets, and banking. They must be able to meet strict deadlines and need strong organizational skills. Proficiency in using computers and good communication skills are also important.
Controllers must be familiar with GAAP standards and regulatory requirements. They should have excellent leadership skills and be familiar with budget development and audit activities. Presentation skills are essential as they typically gather, evaluate, and present financial information to executive teams and external stakeholders. An analytic mind and strong interpersonal skills, as well as the ability to translate complex financial concepts to individuals at all levels, are crucial to this role.
Sample job description
Are you excellent with finances? Are you great at directing budgets that keep companies up and running? If so, we’re hiring a controller at [Your Company Name] and would love for you to apply. Controllers use all the financial data at their disposal to oversee and direct all aspects of a company’s accounting operations. They record and maintain all financial reports, and handle accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, compliance, inventory management, and more. Controllers use financial software and analytical skills to ensure continued operations. They control and monitor all things within the context of finances and are integral to the functionality of a business.
Typical duties and responsibilities
Manage all accounting operations including billing, A/R, A/P, GL and counsel, cost accounting, inventory accounting, and revenue recognition
Communicate financial metrics to senior management
Maintain current knowledge of organizational policies and procedures, federal and state policies and directives, and current accounting standards
Receive, record, and authorize requests for disbursements following company policies and procedures
Handle all aspects of employee insurance, benefits, and casualty programs, including monitoring changes in health insurance regulations and creating budgets for benefits and workers’ compensation
Education and experience
This position requires a bachelor’s degree in business, accounting, finance, or a related discipline. Certified public accountant (CPA) or certified management accountant (CMA) designations are usually preferred.
Required skills and qualifications
Experience with general ledger functions and the month-end/year-end close process
Excellent accounting software user and administration skills
Strong interpersonal and communication skills
Excellent analytical and organizational skills
Ability to work closely with the senior management team
Proficient in Microsoft Office suite software
3+ years of managing budgets
Familiarity with financial software
Proficient in Google and Microsoft
Bachelor’s degree in finance, business, or related field
Average salary and compensation
The average salary for a controller is $160,000 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.
Los Angeles, California
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
New York City, New York
Typical work environment
The controller will spend a significant amount of time seated at a desk in an office environment. They will oftentimes work with other managers, employees, management, and others to share information and resolve issues.
Controllers may find themselves participating in or leading meetings, and may work in a position that requires travel. The general hours worked for a controller are going to be the standard 40 hour work week, Monday through Friday.
The typical work hours for a controller can be from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday in an office setting. However, longer or different hours can, at times, be necessary.
As controllers work in a variety of industries, there are many institutions that offer certifications, including:
Certified Management Accountant. The CMA is a highly advanced professional certification that’s specifically designed to test and measure the financial management skills and leadership prowess of the individual. This certification should be obtained by an accountant or financial position seeking to move into a management position and expand their skill set. It does require 2 years of experience and requires renewal once a year, however.
Chartered Global Management Accountant. The CGMA is a highly sought-after certification that shows you’re serious and committed to the financial industry. It announces the commercial skill, strategic mindset, and transformational vision needed to demonstrate you have leadership acumen and a problem-solving approach to your position.
International Accredited Business Accountant. The IABA shows individuals who hold this accreditation have the practical understanding and foundational knowledge needed to be successful practitioners. For this very reason, those wishing to obtain the credentials must pass an experience requirement with 3 years of related experience or 2 years of college education in a related field. After passing the comprehensive exam will be able to hold the title and globally recognized accreditation.
This position requires a bachelor’s degree in business, accounting, finance, or a related discipline, with certified public accountant (CPA) or certified management accountant (CMA) certification usually preferred.
CPA certification involves passing the Uniform CPA Exam set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). CMA certification can be earned by passing the CMA exam.
US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook
SOC Code: 11-3031
Projected Employment in 2030
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift
According to Investopedia, accounting professionals who rise to the controller position typically earn above-average salaries, with some at large companies having the opportunity to make well above average.
Sample interview questions
What do you consider when doing budgets?
What’s the most challenging financial project you’ve done?
How do you identify financial opportunities for your company?
How did you reduce expenses previously at another company?
Can you describe a conflict that you had with coworkers or employees in the past? What was the outcome?
Can you describe a difficult financial problem you had during your experience as an accountant? What was the resolution?
Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to your colleagues, what was the problem, and how was it resolved?
What is your past experience working as a controller? How did you help change this company for the better?
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