Controller Position Description

Controllers direct the preparation of financial reports like income statements.
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Controllers direct the preparation of financial reports like income statements.

Financial controllers, as these professionals are sometimes called, are among the top 100 careers listed as "Best jobs In America," according to CNN Money. These professionals manage and oversee the creation of various financial reports that show company revenue and expenses. Some may manage other employees. You need strong analytical, math and organizational skills to perform this job.

Primary Responsibilities

You direct the preparation of various financial reports as a controller, including income statements, balance sheets and forecasts of earnings and profits. You also invest company cash and assets into plant expansions and the acquisition of other companies. Because of your control of company assets, you may report directly to the board of directors. Other essential responsibilities include preparing special reports required by the federal government, including information on executives' salaries and investment strategies. This ensures your company is operating legally. You may also schedule audits with outside accounting professionals to view financial records.

Administrative Responsibilities

As a controller, you may manage the accounting, bookkeeping or finance department in your firm. This role requires the hiring and training of other employees and conducting annual performance reviews, which are used to determine salary increases. Additionally, you may also control the overall budget for your company, approving or changing departmental budgets to stay within certain expenditure parameters.

Work Environment

Controllers mostly work daytime hours from Monday to Friday, but overtime may be necessary to meet project deadlines. Twenty-nine percent of financial managers, including controllers, worked in finance or insurance companies in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. Additionally, 9 percent were department managers in companies and 8 percent worked for the federal government.

Education and Training

Most financial managers, including controllers, have a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, business or economics. Some employers prefer to hire applicants with master's degrees, particularly in business. This gives you a well-rounded education in all the functional areas of a business, including marketing, accounting, business development and production. You may also enhance your career by becoming a certified public account or certified management accountant through the Institute of Management Accountants. Certification is also available to controllers through the Association for Financial Professionals. Many colleges have internships for accounting or finance majors. From there, your training is mostly on the job.


The BLS reports that average annual salaries for financial managers, including controllers, were $120,450 as of May 2011. notes average controllers' salaries in 2012 at $90,000, which is based on 2,114 salaries in 1,302 companies. You can earn up to $146,150 if you are among the top 10 percent in the profession. The top-paying states for financial managers and controllers are New York, New Jersey and Delaware at $163,620, $141,830 and $138,430 per year, respectively.

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.

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