Taking care of your finances properly may be second nature to you. If you are comfortable managing accounting and overseeing budgets, then a career as a controller may be a good fit for you. Controllers are financial managers working for a company. They are usually responsible for handling the company's accounting, auditing and budgeting.
Controllers supervise the preparation of financial reports, such as balance sheets and future earnings documents. Controllers also make sure that all bills are paid on time and employees receive their paychecks. Depending on the size of the company, controllers may supervise employees from the accounting department. They are responsible for having meetings with staff from these departments as well as preparing special finance reports.
Don't rely on your good math skills to land a controller position. Most employers look for applicants with a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. Since controller positions are very competitive, especially working for top corporations, an entry-level accounting position can provide applicants with a good foundation. Also, most employers seek applicants with a minimum of five years experience working in the field as an accountant, loan officer or financial analyst. You can definitely stand out from the crowd by becoming certified, by having a bachelor's degree and four years professional experience.
Since controllers are responsible for a variety of tasks, organizational skills are important. They must supervise staff, meet with executives and prepare financial documents on a routine basis. Controllers need good communication skills to explain complex financial documents to staff not familiar with accounting terms. Along with having good math skills, they need to have a firm understanding of in-depth financial documents as well. Controllers also need to be strong leaders to direct staff and answer questions relating to accounting and the budget for a company.
Controllers may work for the government, management firms, finance, banks or insurance companies. Depending on the size of the company, some controllers may have support staff. Smaller companies may only consist of a controller and an assistant. Controllers also tend to work long hours especially while on deadline and during tax season.
2016 Salary Information for Financial Managers
Financial managers earned a median annual salary of $121,750 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, financial managers earned a 25th percentile salary of $87,530, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $168,790, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 580,400 people were employed in the U.S. as financial managers.
Dachell McSween has contributed to the "New York Daily News" and "Black Enterprise Magazine." She also writes for various online publications. McSween received a B.A. in journalism from Pace University and an M.S. in publishing from New York University.