Financial Controller Jobs: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for financial controllers. Get the facts about job duties, education requirements, skills and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Accounting & Finance degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Financial Controller?

Financial controller jobs are typically found in the fields of business or finance. These professionals' managerial duties include supervising accounting staff who perform a variety of billing, financial reporting and payroll services. They also set company accounting, budgeting and credit management standards and consult with upper management regarding investment goals and financing decisions. To do so, they must stay abreast of an organization's policies as well as relevant state and federal government regulations.

The table below outlines the general requirements for a career as a financial controller.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree, master's degree recommended to improve job prospects
Education Field of Study Accounting, business administration
Other Requirements May need several years of work experience, formal training and continuing education, certification is recommended
Key Skills Analytical, detail oriented, familiarity with financial software, advanced knowledge of spreadsheet operations
Job Growth (2014-2024) 7% (for all financial managers)*
Median Salary (2017) $78,655**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

What Does a Financial Controller Do?

Financial controllers are typically managers within a business' accounting department. In this position, you supervise accounting staff, set company accounting standards, and consult with upper management regarding goals, budgets and investment planning. You also monitor bank balances and process routine financial transactions, such as payroll, loan payments and bank deposits.

As a financial controller, you're usually responsible for creating well-documented financial reports, including annual budgets, business forecasts, income statements, balance sheets and activity reports. You might also prepare or outsource tax filing and work with internal auditors and ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

What Are the Differences Between a Controller and a Chief Financial Officer?

As a financial controller, you'd work closely with the chief financial officer (CFO), but function differently. Generally a mid-level manager, you'd take direction from your company's CFO and ensure that financial plans and transactions were carried out correctly. You'd submit your reports to the CFO, who would then determine the best course of action for the company's financial goals and develop budgetary policies. Though you might work directly with accountants, auditors and analysts within the financial department, the CFO would be ultimately responsible for all financial matters and decisions.

What Skills and Education Would I Need?

Since a financial controller job is a management position, you might be required to have several years of accounting experience in addition to formal training and continuing education. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree, preferably in accounting or business administration, before you can obtain a position in accounting or financial management. You could improve your employment opportunities with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an emphasis on finance or accounting. A professional license, such as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA), may also be helpful or required if you file public records.

Since much of your job requires generating reports and interpreting statistical data, you usually need to be familiar with financial software and have advanced knowledge of spreadsheet operations. Some software packages controllers often use include Automatic Data Processing EasyPay, Hyperion Enterprise, Intuit Quickbooks, Sage Peachtree, ADERANT Expert Back Office and Microsoft Excel.

How Much Could I Make?

In January 2017, PayScale.com reported the salary range for most financial controllers was $51,376-$117,937. Financial controllers who held a bachelor's degree in accounting earned $62,587-$123,853 in March 2017, according to Payscale.com, while financial controllers with an MBA in accounting earned $56,368-$123,592 in the same month and year.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you like overseeing financial policies, you might also consider a career as a risk management specialist or auditor. Risk management specialists identify strategies for protecting an organization's financial investments and preventing or mitigating the loss of funds. They need at least a bachelor's, and sometimes a master's degree, in a related field in order to find a job. Auditors evaluate and report asset usage, making recommendations about ways to reduce operating costs or improve finances. They typically need a bachelor's degree, though a master's degree might be preferred by some employers.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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