Assistant Controller Career Path

Are you thinking of becoming an Assistant Controller or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become an Assistant Controller, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Assistant Controller job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.
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How To Become a Controller

A controller is an attractive career ambition for many accountants. Find out what it takes to become this financial guru, then follow these steps:
Contents

1

Take an inventory of your personal skills.

Those seeking to work as a controller must have strong personality traits to succeed in the position. This role requires you to interact with clients and oversee your team's daily activities. Therefore, many employers prefer individuals who have:

  • Problem-solving skills.
  • Analytical thinking.
  • Aptitude for leadership.
  • Organization skills.
  • Strong attention to detail.
  • Keen business sense.
  • Interpersonal and communication skills.

2

Get your master's degree.

Every controller job is unique. However, there are a few universal qualifications that every serious candidate should possess. This analytical position requires a firm grasp of accounting and business concepts that go beyond an undergraduate degree.

A master's degree provides you with the complex instruction in corporate strategy and leadership skills necessary to stay competitive in this field. With this background, you'll have the ability to make sound decisions for your company's financial success. In addition, current professionals should seek out mentors and consider courses in advanced business concepts, like:

  • Managerial finance.
  • Behavioral studies.
  • Business leadership.
  • Economics.
  • Business law.
  • Human resources.
  • International business.

What skills do you need to be a Controller?

  • Excellent Communication
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • GAAP
  • Enterprise Resource Planning
  • General Ledger
  • Strong WORK Ethic
  • Audit
  • GAAP Accounting
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as a Controller in the United States.

3

Put your degree to work as an accountant.

Even the best student won't get a controller job right out of college. It can take at least five years of dedicated work to earn this coveted title. Controllers must refine their technical skills by practicing as accountants and auditors in private sector roles or with government agencies and nonprofits.

Many individuals start as cost accountants and advance to management positions after demonstrating their financial expertise, leadership abilities, and business management software competency. Plan to follow up that experience with a multi-year tenure as an assistant controller.

4

Take your certification exam.

In addition to a master's degree and half a decade of experience, aspiring controllers should consider earning a certified public accountant, certified management accountant, or a chartered financial analyst title.

The certified public accountant (CPA) credential is the most commonly acquired certification for controller positions. These certifications require passing an exam to ensure you understand the information. Testing requirements vary by state, but most programs require 30 credits more than a bachelor's degree and at least one year of accounting experience. The CPA examination contains four sections, including:

  • Business environment and concepts.
  • Auditing and attestation.
  • Regulation.
  • Financial accounting and reporting.

5

Continue your education.

Controllers are typically required to complete continuing education to maintain their CPA-related credentials. Educators designed the process to help you maintain your competency and understanding of ever-changing tax laws. Most of these employees must also demonstrate extensive experience with Microsoft Excel and proficiency with leading financial analysis software, like Intuit's QuickBooks.

Seniority Levels

L2

Assistant Controller

0 - 1Years of Experience
$107,256 /yrTotal Pay
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L3

Senior Controller

2 - 4Years of Experience
$121,608 /yrTotal Pay
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L4

Lead Controller

5 - 7Years of Experience
$112,390 /yrTotal Pay
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Total Pay Trajectory

Assistant Controller Career Path

$210K
$180K
$150K
$120K
$90K
L2
L4
L6
L8
Seniority Levels

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