Plant Controller Jobs: Career Options and Requirements

Sep 14, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to work as a plant controller. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Plant controllers are a type of financial manager. They are in charge of accounting and budgeting in manufacturing facilities. Plant controllers typically have a bachelor's degree and at least 5 years of relevant experience.

Essential Information

Plant controllers oversee the financial and budgetary practices for manufacturing organizations. They may run reports on corporate spending, approve business purchases and supervise workers in the financial department. Controllers often meet with other administrators to discuss revenue statistics and the budget. Some positions require frequent traveling between sites to obtain records and run audits.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in business
Other Requirements 5+ years experience
Projected Job Growth 16% from 2018-2028 for financial managers*
Median Salary (2018) $127,990 annually for financial managers*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Plant Controller Career Options

Industries

Plant controllers are needed in multiple industries to keep track of budgetary spending and financial issues. Although plant controllers work mainly at manufacturing companies, individuals may choose which manufacturing industry best suits their interests and background. For example, those interested in healthcare may choose to be a controller at a medical supplies or pharmaceuticals manufacturing plant. Likewise, controllers with a background in government financial work may wish to take a position at a defense research and development laboratory.

Specializations

Some controllers specialize by job duties. For example, some controllers focus only on producing and updating financial reports, such as monthly spending charts and annual revenue reports. Others specialize in internal auditing and accounting. Some controllers work mainly with legal documentation, including filing reports with federal agencies concerning income, operations costs and employee wages.

Larger organizations often divide up controller positions and specialties based on geographic locations. For instance, a division controller would be responsible for the financial management for an entire division. They coordinate with other division controllers and submit paperwork to the general headquarters. Division controllers might also report to a regional controller, depending on the size of the organization.

Plant Controller Job Requirements

Education

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that financial managers, including plant controllers, need at least a bachelor's degree. Common majors for prospective controllers include accounting, financing and business administration. Accounting coursework covers business law, payroll accounting, auditing and federal taxes.

Divisional and regional controller positions may require applicants to have a graduate degree as well. A master's degree in finance, for example, takes 2-3 years to complete. Some universities offer a combined bachelor's/master's degree program that takes about five years to complete. Graduate coursework in financing typically includes corporate finance, investments, risk management and economics.

Licensing and Certification

Controllers working in accounting departments may need a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license. Eligibility requirements for the CPA exam vary by state. Most states require workers to fulfill education and training requirements, which can usually be accomplished through completing a bachelor's or master's degree program. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants writes and administers the CPA exam used in all states.

Other certification programs are usually voluntary, but additional credentials may help controllers find employment and advance to higher positions. Some controllers may consider obtaining certification for computer programs related to finance and accounting. For example, on CareerBuilder.com in May 2011, employers who posted jobs for plant controllers preferred applicants with extensive experience and training on Microsoft Word, Excel, Oracle and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

Salary and Job Outlook

For all financial managers, including plant controllers, the BLS projected that employment would increase 16% from 2018 to 2028 - this represents a much faster-than-average growth compared to all job sectors. The BLS reported that the average annual wage for financial managers was $127,990 in May 2018.

Plant controllers might work for any company which manufactures a product. While job growth is not expected to be slow in the next 10 years, applicants should expect stiff competition due to the desirability of the positions. Jobseekers holding certifications and/or a master's degree may have a better chance of catching an employer's interest.

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