Controller Vs. Accounting Manager

Controllers and accounting managers both have supervisory roles with different levels of responsibility and authority. Read on to compare the duties, income and training requirements associated with these professions.

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Comparing Controllers to Accounting Managers

Controllers and accounting managers both work with financial departments and perform supervisory tasks. Controllers are in a more advanced role, tend to earn a higher salary, and can currently expect a higher rate of job growth than accounting managers, as shown in the table, below.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)**
Controllers Bachelor's degree $80,210 (financial controller) 19% (financial managers)
Accounting Managers Bachelor's degree $68,381 10% (accountants and auditors)

Sources: *; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Controllers vs. Accounting Managers

Controllers and accounting managers are both in supervisory roles and are responsible for ensuring that all financial tasks are completed accurately. Accounting managers oversee other accountants and may provide direction within a specific branch of the financial department. Controllers play a role in supervising all financial departments and staff, which affords them a higher level of responsibility and authority. Both controllers and accounting managers may complete paperwork as part of their duties and check the work of others to make sure that it is accurate. Controllers also prepare projections concerning the company's finances. Controllers and accounting managers must both know government regulations and laws concerning the financial reports they complete or oversee, so that they can ensure all legal requirements are met.


Controllers provide financial data in reports. Their duties can involve overseeing accountants or other professionals who work in the financial department of their company. These professionals should have a combination of organizational and analytical skills and must pay close attention to details so that they ensure all reports are accurate and complete. To pursue advancement opportunities it may be necessary to have a master's degree in a field such as accounting or business administration. Controllers commonly work for manufacturing companies, government agencies, or financial institutions. They typically work regular daytime hours, although overtime is a common requirement.

Job responsibilities of a controller include:

  • Establishing standards for handling company finances and documentation
  • Completing government reports
  • Ensuring staff complete budgets and other reports
  • Reviewing financial reports

Accounting Managers

Accounting managers are mid-level managers who are responsible for overseeing some or all of the staff in a company's accounting department. Although graduate studies and certification are not necessarily required to pursue opportunities in this field, having a master's degree and being a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) may be an asset to those pursuing accounting manager roles. These professionals typically start out as accountants or auditors and need to be organized and thorough in their work so that they can ensure accuracy. Accounting managers commonly work in an office environment during standard daytime hours, although overtime is common when year-end reports are due.

Job responsibilities of an accounting manager include:

  • Keeping financial data organized and updated
  • Hiring and training subordinates
  • Ensuring all applicable regulations are followed
  • Presenting data at meetings

Related Careers

Use the links listed here to explore other financial career options that share similarities with those discussed in this article.

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