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Controller Careers

Working as a Controller requires extensive experience in the field of accounting. Controllers oversee the financial operations of companies. Creating budgets, managing investment decisions, assessing risk factors, and creating financial reports are all supervised by the controller.

He or she makes sure accounting records are up to speed with the accounting principles fellow professionals go by, and oversees all accounting departments of the company, guaranteeing that bookkeeping tasks are carried out within the required deadlines. Controllers are involved in the selection and training of accounting employees as well.

Coming up with a viable system for the management and maintenance of accounting records is also the responsibility of the controller, making sure that all financial information is kept confidential and all processes comply with state and federal government regulations.

What Does a Controller Do

Financial managers are responsible for the financial health of an organization. They produce financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies and plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.


Financial managers typically do the following:

  • Prepare financial statements, business activity reports, and forecasts
  • Monitor financial details to ensure that legal requirements are met
  • Supervise employees who do financial reporting and budgeting
  • Review company financial reports and seek ways to reduce costs
  • Analyze market trends to maximize profits and find expansion opportunities
  • Help management make financial decisions

The role of the financial manager, particularly in business, is changing in response to technological advances that have substantially reduced the amount of time it takes to produce financial reports. Financial managers’ main responsibility used to be monitoring a company’s finances, but they now do more data analysis and advise senior managers on ways to maximize profits. They often work on teams, acting as business advisors to top executives.

Financial managers also do tasks that are specific to their organization or industry. For example, government financial managers must be experts on government appropriations and budgeting processes, and healthcare financial managers must know about topics in healthcare finance. Moreover, financial managers must be knowledgeable about special tax laws and regulations that affect their industry.

The following are examples of types of financial managers:

Chief financial officers (CFOs) are accountable for the accuracy of a company’s or organization’s financial reporting, especially among publicly traded companies. As head of a company’s entire financial department, they manage the lower level financial managers. They oversee the company’s financial goals, objectives, and budgets.

Controllers direct the preparation of financial reports that summarize and forecast the organization’s financial position, such as income statements, balance sheets, and analyses of future earnings or expenses. Controllers also are in charge of preparing special reports required by governmental agencies that regulate businesses. Often, controllers oversee the accounting, audit, and budget departments of their organization.

Treasurers and finance officers direct their organization’s budgets to meet its financial goals. They oversee the investment of funds and carry out strategies to raise capital (such as issuing stocks or bonds) to support the firm’s expansion. They also develop financial plans for mergers (two companies joining together) and acquisitions (one company buying another).

Credit managers oversee their firm’s credit business. They set credit-rating criteria, determine credit ceilings, and monitor the collections of past-due accounts.

Cash managers monitor and control the flow of cash that comes in and goes out of the company to meet the company’s business and investment needs. For example, they must project cash flow (amounts coming in and going out) to determine whether the company will have a shortage or surplus of cash. 

Risk managers control financial risk by using strategies to limit or offset the probability of a financial loss or a company’s exposure to financial uncertainty. Among the risks they try to limit are those that stem from currency or commodity price changes.

Insurance managers decide how best to limit a company’s losses by obtaining insurance against risks, such as the need to make disability payments for an employee who gets hurt on the job or the costs imposed by a lawsuit against the company.

How To Become a Controller

Financial managers typically have a bachelor’s degree and 5 years or more of experience in another business or financial occupation, such as an accountant, securities sales agent, or financial analyst.


A bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration is often the minimum education needed for financial managers. However, many employers now seek candidates with a master’s degree, preferably in business administration, finance, or economics. These academic programs help students develop analytical skills and learn financial analysis methods and software.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Professional certification is not required, but some financial managers still get it to demonstrate a level of competence. The CFA Institute confers the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification to investment professionals who have at least a bachelor’s degree, 4 years of work experience, and pass three exams. The Association for Financial Professionals confers the Certified Treasury Professional credential to those who pass an exam and have a minimum of 2 years of relevant experience.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Financial managers usually have experience in another business or financial occupation. For example, they may have worked as a loan officer, accountant, securities sales agent, or financial analyst. 

In some cases, companies provide formal management training programs to help prepare highly motivated and skilled financial workers to become financial managers.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Financial managers increasingly are assisting executives in making decisions that affect their organization, a task which requires analytical ability.

Communication skills. Excellent communication skills are essential because financial managers must explain and justify complex financial transactions.

Detail oriented. In preparing and analyzing reports such as balance sheets and income statements, financial managers must be precise and attentive to their work in order to avoid errors.

Math skills. Financial managers must be skilled in math, including algebra. An understanding of international finance and complex financial documents also is important.

Organizational skills. Financial managers deal with a range of information and documents and so they must stay organized to do their jobs effectively.

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Average Salary for a Controller

Controllers in America make an average salary of $96,217 per year or $46 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $137,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $67,000 per year.
Average Salary

Best Paying Cities

Average Salarydesc
New York, NY
Salary Range102k - 173k$133k$133,292
Jersey City, NJ
Salary Range92k - 157k$121k$120,668
Stamford, CT
Salary Range87k - 147k$113k$113,419
San Francisco, CA
Salary Range83k - 148k$111k$111,379
Richmond, VA
Salary Range84k - 141k$109k$109,357
Baltimore, MD
Salary Range81k - 138k$107k$106,726

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Controller Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Controller. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Controller Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Controller resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

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Controller Demographics



56.6 %


39.4 %


4.0 %



69.4 %

Hispanic or Latino

14.2 %

Black or African American

7.5 %

Foreign Languages Spoken


48.5 %


10.5 %


6.3 %
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Controller Education


26.7 %
9.1 %



55.3 %


29.5 %


6.5 %

Top Colleges for Controllers

1. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition

2. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition

3. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

4. SUNY at Binghamton

Vestal, NY • Public

In-State Tuition

5. Villanova University

Villanova, PA • Private

In-State Tuition

6. San Diego State University

San Diego, CA • Public

In-State Tuition

7. Bentley University

Waltham, MA • Private

In-State Tuition

8. SUNY Farmingdale

Farmingdale, NY • Public

In-State Tuition

9. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition

10. SUNY Stony Brook

Stony Brook, NY • Public

In-State Tuition
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Top Skills For a Controller

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 12.2% of controllers listed financial statements on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and communication skills are important as well.

  • Financial Statements, 12.2%
  • General Ledger Accounts, 9.2%
  • CPA, 7.6%
  • Payroll, 7.0%
  • Internal Audit, 6.2%
  • Other Skills, 57.8%
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Best States For a Controller

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a controller. The best states for people in this position are New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Rhode Island. Controllers make the most in New York with an average salary of $131,062. Whereas in New Jersey and West Virginia, they would average $119,795 and $115,441, respectively. While controllers would only make an average of $113,680 in Rhode Island, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. New York

Total Controller Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Connecticut

Total Controller Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Delaware

Total Controller Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Controller Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ controllers and discovered their number of controller opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Robert Half International was the best, especially with an average salary of $95,096. Randstad USA follows up with an average salary of $106,833, and then comes Aramark with an average of $98,759. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a controller. The employers include Danaher, Kforce, and Robert Half International

1. Robert Half International
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2. Randstad USA
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3. Aramark
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4. Holiday Inn Express
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5. Marriott International
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6. Environment Control
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Updated October 2, 2020