How to Become a Controller

While many people want to know how to become a controller, only a handful really know what it takes to become one. Becoming a controller is not something that is done overnight and there really is no set curriculum one can take to become one. This article will discuss and explain how one is to become a controller.

Responsibilities of a Controller

Essentially, a controller can be thought of as the head accountant at a firm. In fact, another name for a controller can be head accountant, chief accountant or accountant-in-charge. But no matter what they call themselves, controllers are the ones responsible for overseeing and managing a firm’s accounting affairs and operations. From day to day operations to shareholder’s meetings, controllers are involved in anything concerning money. But how can you become one? The answer is actually not so simple mainly because different controllers got their positions different ways.

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Paths to Becoming a Controller

Some firms promote associate accountants to controller after a certain number of years of seniority in a firm. Other firms hold competitive application bids in order to attract the best talent their applicant pool has to offer. As you can see, there is more than one way to become a controller. At this point, you may ask about the type of education needed to become a controller. Obviously, you want to focus your studies on accounting. Perhaps attaining a degree in accounting would be the best route to take. Following the completion of an accounting degree, one might opt to pursue the CPA (or Certified Public Accountant) designation. However, you do not want to focus your studies exclusively on the accounting field. It is imperative that you also complete coursework in economics and law, specifically tax and business law. The reasoning behind this is because knowledge of economics will lead to a better understanding of a firm and its position within the national economy. This type of information is crucial when it comes to carrying out the duties of a controller.

Education and Controllers

This is not to say that education is not a crucial step in your goal to become controller. An MBA with a concentration in accounting will almost certainly serve you well on your journey. What a lot of people do not understand is that the traditional MBA has evolved into a more technical field. This affords prospective controllers the ability to be ahead of the game in terms of cutting edge business models. Unlike a CFO position, the duties of the controller are not based on investment decision making, but rather day to day operations decision making. Also, it is not uncommon for colleges and universities to offer an eMBA program. In short, an eMBA is an executive MBA made for those who already have an upper-management and are looking for that extra push towards the top. In other words, exactly what you need to help you become a controller. In theory, one would think that a person hoping to be a controller already holds a management position in some capacity. As you can see, there are quite a few ways to become a controller. With this information in hand, you’re well on your way to a successful career as a controller.