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Become A Controller

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Working As A Controller

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Processing Information
  • Getting Information
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • $82,670

    Average Salary

What Does A Controller Do

A controller is the person responsible for the accounting operations of a company or business unit. They often manage the departments of accounting, budgeting, audit and other finance-related areas.

How To Become A Controller

Most accountants and auditors need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Certification within a specific field of accounting improves job prospects. For example, many accountants become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs).  


Most accountant and auditor positions require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Some employers prefer to hire applicants who have a master’s degree, either in accounting or in business administration with a concentration in accounting.

A few universities and colleges offer specialized programs, such as a bachelor’s degree in internal auditing. In some cases, those with associate’s degrees, as well as bookkeepers and accounting clerks who meet the education and experience requirements set by their employers, get junior accounting positions and advance to accountant positions by showing their accounting skills on the job.

Many colleges help students gain practical experience through summer or part-time internships with public accounting or business firms.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Every accountant filing a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is required by law to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Many other accountants choose to become a CPA to enhance their job prospects or to gain clients. Many employers will often pay the costs associated with the CPA exam.

CPAs are licensed by their state’s Board of Accountancy. Becoming a CPA requires passing a national exam and meeting other state requirements. Almost all states require CPA candidates to complete 150 semester hours of college coursework to be certified, which is 30 hours more than the usual 4-year bachelor’s degree. Many schools offer a 5-year combined bachelor’s and master’s degree to meet the 150-hour requirement, but a master’s degree is not required.

A few states allow a number of years of public accounting experience to substitute for a college degree.

All states use the four-part Uniform CPA Examination from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Candidates do not have to pass all four parts at once, but most states require that they pass all four parts within 18 months of passing their first part.

Almost all states require CPAs to take continuing education to keep their license.

Certification provides an advantage in the job market because it shows professional competence in a specialized field of accounting and auditing. Accountants and auditors seek certifications from a variety of professional societies. Some of the most common certifications are listed below:

The Institute of Management Accountants offers the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) to applicants who complete a bachelor’s degree. Applicants must have worked at least 2 years in management accounting, pass a two-part exam, agree to meet continuing education requirements, and comply with standards of professional conduct. The exam covers areas such as financial statement analysis, working-capital policy, capital structure, valuation issues, and risk management. 

The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) offers the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) to graduates from accredited colleges and universities who have worked for 2 years as internal auditors and have passed a four-part exam. The IIA also offers the Certified in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA), Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP), Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA), and Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA) to those who pass the exams and meet educational and experience requirements.

ISACA offers the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) to candidates who pass an exam and have 5 years of experience auditing information systems. Information systems experience, financial or operational auditing experience, or related college credit hours can be substituted for up to 3 years of experience in information systems auditing, control, or security.

For accountants with a CPA, the AICPA offers the option to receive any or all of the Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV), Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP), or Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) certifications. The ABV requires a written exam, completion of at least six business valuation projects, and 75 hours of continuing education. The CITP requires 1,000 hours of business technology experience and 75 hours of continuing education. Candidates for the PFS also must complete a certain amount of work experience and continuing education, and pass a written exam.


Some top executives and financial managers have a background in accounting, internal auditing, or finance.

Beginning public accountants often advance to positions with more responsibility in 1 or 2 years and to senior positions within another few years. Those who excel may become supervisors, managers, or partners; open their own public accounting firm; or transfer to executive positions in management accounting or internal auditing in private firms.

Management accountants often start as cost accountants, junior internal auditors, or trainees for other accounting positions. As they rise through the organization, they may advance to accounting manager, chief cost accountant, budget director, or manager of internal auditing. Some become controllers, treasurers, financial vice presidents, chief financial officers, or corporation presidents.

Public accountants, management accountants, and internal auditors can move from one aspect of accounting and auditing to another. Public accountants often move into management accounting or internal auditing. Management accountants may become internal auditors, and internal auditors may become management accountants. However, it is less common for management accountants or internal auditors to move into public accounting.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Accountants and auditors must be able to identify issues in documentation and suggest solutions. For example, public accountants use analytical skills in their work to minimize tax liability, and internal auditors use these skills to detect fraudulent use of funds.  

Communication skills. Accountants and auditors must be able to listen carefully to facts and concerns from clients, managers, and others. They must also be able to discuss the results of their work in both meetings and written reports.

Detail oriented. Accountants and auditors must pay attention to detail when compiling and examining documentation.

Math skills. Accountants and auditors must be able to analyze, compare, and interpret facts and figures, although complex math skills are not necessary.

Organizational skills. Strong organizational skills are important for accountants and auditors who often work with a range of financial documents for a variety of clients.

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Controller Demographics


  • Male

  • Female

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Asian

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • French

  • German

  • Portuguese

  • Chinese

  • Mandarin

  • Japanese

  • Russian

  • Italian

  • Carrier

  • Cantonese

  • Korean

  • Arabic

  • Polish

  • Hindi

  • Vietnamese

  • Swedish

  • Dutch

  • Hebrew

  • Greek

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Controller Education


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Real Controller Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Private Equity Controller Oz Management LP New York, NY Nov 01, 2015 $300,000
Private Equity Controller Oz Management LP New York, NY Jan 11, 2015 $300,000
Controller Independent Appraisal Guide, LLC Alpharetta, GA Feb 18, 2015 $263,000
Controller Oz Management New York, NY Mar 22, 2016 $227,178
Controller Archway Partnerships, Inc. Norwalk, CT Apr 22, 2016 $204,485
I IA WT Controller Siemens Industry, Inc. Alpharetta, GA Sep 23, 2016 $199,134
Controller Marlin Management Company, LLC Hermosa Beach, CA Sep 14, 2015 $195,000
Controller, North America Imaging KaVo Dental Technologies LLC Hatfield, PA Dec 04, 2016 $189,155
Controller Related Partners, Inc. New York, NY Dec 23, 2016 $188,989
Controller Payoneer Inc. New York, NY Sep 09, 2015 $183,573
Controller Chemical Resources, Inc. Princeton, NJ Apr 10, 2016 $183,168
Controller, North America Imaging Dental Imaging Technologies Corporation Hatfield, PA Nov 08, 2016 $183,061
Controller Related Partners, Inc. New York, NY Mar 11, 2015 $182,957
Controller Tramontina USA, Inc. Sugar Land, TX Nov 14, 2016 $179,774
Managing Controller Concord Engineering Miami, FL Jun 23, 2016 $116,000
Controller Science Media Services, Inc. Santa Monica, CA Apr 27, 2015 $116,000 -
Controller UE MacHinery & Parts LLC Hialeah Gardens, FL Sep 22, 2015 $115,550
Controller Business Telecommunications Services Inc. Miami, FL May 01, 2015 $115,544
Controller Therapy Alliance, Inc. Miami Lakes, FL Mar 23, 2016 $115,544
Controller American Health Services Santa Clarita, CA Dec 02, 2016 $115,086
Controller Synergy Oil & Gas, LLC Long Beach, CA Jun 29, 2015 $115,086
Controller Ad.Com Interactive Media, Inc. Burbank, CA Jan 26, 2016 $115,086
Controller Air Aroma USA Dist. LLC New York, NY Apr 06, 2015 $92,250
Controller Berlitz Corporation Princeton, NJ Sep 06, 2015 $92,100 -
Controller Pi Works Us Inc. Reston, VA Aug 01, 2016 $92,000
Product Controller Barclays Services Corp. New York, NY Nov 29, 2015 $92,000 -
Controller African Wildlife Foundation Washington, DC Sep 30, 2015 $92,000
Controller Alltour America Transportation, Inc. Orlando, FL Feb 24, 2015 $91,900 -
Controller Fluet & Associates, PLLC Woodbridge, VA Jan 19, 2016 $91,894
Controller Kol Marble&Granite LLC. Cherry Hill, NJ Feb 23, 2016 $91,458

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Top Skills for A Controller


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Top Controller Skills

  1. Payroll Processing
  2. External Auditors
  3. General Ledger Accounts
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed and implemented payroll processing and reporting program that decreased processing time from five to two days
  • Acted as contact person to organize and provide financial information to external auditors for annual financial audit and tax preparation filings.
  • Reconciled monthly general ledger accounts including petty cash, revenues, prop tax, depreciation and inventories.
  • Collaborated with Flight Line production supervisor to ensure delivery of munitions assets to aircraft.
  • Prepared financial statements, performed cash and account reconciliations and reports to lender.

Top Controller Employers

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