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Advancing from Accountant to Controller

Advancing from Accountant to Controller

Controllers are the advanced accounting experts who have their thumb on the pulse of a company’s entire financial picture, including its past, present, and future over the short and long-term. Controllers operate with a very high level of financial information and expertise, usually just below the level of the chief financial officer. In this role, they monitor income and balance statements and make projections regarding future earnings. They also prepare reports for company shareholders and decision makers.

Controller positions can pay very well and can offer plenty stability and job security, depending on their geographic area and the size of their employer companies. Smaller firms that bring in less than five million in sales each year will usually pay controllers a salary between 65,000 and 95,000 dollars annually, while larger firms in highly populated metropolitan areas will pay between 130,000 and 185,000.

The Path to Becoming a Controller

While some high level controllers begin their careers as financial analysts, most employees who reach this level begin as staff or junior accountants. First they earn an accounting degree from an accredited college or university, followed by certification, which requires the successful completion of CPA exam for public accountants or a CMA (Certified Management Accounting) certification for corporate accountants.

Often, employees conducting audits through an accounting firm can step from entry-level positions at these firms to controller positions with their smaller clients. They can also become assistant controllers at larger client firms, and then work their way up to higher levels of financial reporting and forecasting.

Skills Required for a Career as a Controller

Successful controllers (and accountants) will need to possess a wide range of technical skills and basic knowledge. But the knowledge and skills gained in the classroom and at the entry-level won’t necessarily prepare an employee for promotion a few years into his or her career. To advice at a steady pace from accountant to controller, employees will also need strong communication skills and the ability to work well with others. They’ll need to be able to gather and synthesize information from multiple departments and then present this information to company leaders in an engaging and meaningful way. This will require problems solving skills and the ability to persuade and inform.

For more information on what it will take to enter the accounting field and rise quickly to the controller level, arrange an appointment with the financial staffing experts at Techneeds.