What Does a Corporate Controller Do?

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What Does a Corporate Controller Do?

The larger an organization is, the more complicated its financial management can be. At more sizable enterprises, tracking financial well-being might involve multiple budgets, various payroll processes, and complex bookkeeping needs. Meanwhile, even the smallest companies require careful and methodical accounting to track their financial status and ensure compliance with tax laws and regulations.

The role of the corporate controller is to oversee all aspects of an organization’s financial health and also to assist leaders and executives in making financially prudent decisions about saving, spending, and investing.

For individuals pursuing an advanced business education with an eye on a role in finance, understanding what a corporate controller does and the steps that it takes to become one can help them determine whether such a role is right for them.

Corporate Controller Job Description

A corporate controller uses a monitor to give a presentation to members of the executive team in a conference room.

Working as a corporate controller provides an opportunity to work across a range of industries and generally boasts a strong job outlook and competitive salary. Additionally, corporate controllers enjoy the satisfaction of applying financial acumen in the service of real, bottom-line decision-making that often has a significant impact on an organization’s future.

A corporate controller oversees all aspects of a company’s finances, which may include payroll, bookkeeping, accounting, and budgeting. Corporate controllers work with other leaders to make decisions that help grow the company; at larger companies, they may also work with banking institutions and even government bodies to ensure the organization is making sound investments.

Corporate controllers regularly meet with the board of directors to provide financial updates and may meet with other employees to educate them on the company’s current financial policies.

What Does a Corporate Controller Do Day to Day?

While the job description of a corporate controller can vary depending on several variables, like the size of the company, the most common roles and responsibilities include the following:

  • Creating financial reports
  • Reconciling banking and investment accounts
  • Analyzing and documenting financial information
  • Managing tax managers, accountants, and other financial professionals
  • Creating policies related to finances and risk management
  • Handling executive payroll

Corporate Controller Salary and Job Outlook

Naturally, those who are interested in this career path will have some questions about the potential salary range as well as the overall job outlook for the profession.

Corporate Controller Salary

Given their important role in managing an organization’s finances, corporate controllers are typically well compensated. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which classifies corporate controllers as financial managers, reports that the median annual salary for these professionals was $131,710 in 2021.

Several factors can affect a corporate controller’s salary range, including the size of the organization they work for and its geographic location. The type of industry is also a major factor in determining compensation.

Corporate Controller Job Outlook

The BLS projects a job growth rate of 17% between 2021 and 2031 for financial managers. This is much faster than the average job growth rate of 6% for all professions, indicating great demand for these high-level financial professionals.

According to the BLS, globalization is driving much of this demand, with more and more companies expanding their operations overseas. As these organizations accumulate cash on their balance sheets, they’ll need professionals with the expertise to manage it, like corporate controllers.

Career Path of Corporate Controllers

To qualify for a role as a corporate controller, an aspiring finance or accounting professional should take several important educational and career steps.

Education Requirements

Finding work as a corporate controller typically requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, usually in finance or a related field. However, many jobs also require a more advanced degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Earning an MBA not only develops a wider knowledge base and a broader skill set that can be applied to a range of roles, but also can open the door to more prestigious positions, higher levels of responsibility, and more competitive salary ranges.

Recommended Coursework

Enrolling in an advanced degree program, such as an MBA, can expose aspiring corporate controllers to a comprehensive financial curriculum. Key topics in the finance concentration of Washington State University’s MBA program include:

  • Investment Analysis
  • International Finance
  • Interest Rates and Finance Markets

Essential Skills

By earning an advanced degree and gaining experience in entry-level financial roles, aspiring controllers can cultivate a range of important skills. Some of the most significant skills for corporate controllers include the following:

  • Time management. Much of what corporate controllers do entails juggling multiple tasks and projects, ensuring that each one is completed by a particular deadline.
  • Problem-solving. Critical thinking skills are essential for recognizing obstacles and for helping organizations find creative and pragmatic solutions.
  • Corporate controllers must be skilled at sharing financial reports with other executives and occasionally presenting findings, as well as explaining financial policies to employees.

Prepare for Success in the World of Finance

The role of a corporate controller may be an ideal fit for those who are interested in finance and enjoy making decisions with real-world impact. Pursuing advanced educational options, such as Washington State University’s Online MBA program, can help individuals prepare for success in this role. With multiple concentrations, including a finance track, WSU’s MBA program can equip working professionals with the knowledge and skills they need to take on leadership roles in business.

Learn more about the program and how it can help prepare you for a career in finance.


Recommended Readings

The Importance of Networking for Post-Military MBA Students

Decision Fatigue: What It Is and How to Avoid It

How Hard Is an MBA Online?



Forbes, “What Is a Controller in Finance? Role and Responsibilities”

Indeed, “FAQ: How Much Does a Corporate Controller Make?”

Indeed, “How to Become a Financial Controller in 4 Steps”

Now CFO, “6 Skills Every Financial Controller Should Have”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Financial Managers