Controller Vs. Comptroller

Sep 30, 2019

Companies and governmental or public offices need controllers and comptrollers to help oversee their financial health. While both positions are considered financial managers, they have unique duties and responsibilities.

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Comparing Controllers to Comptrollers

Controllers and comptrollers are financial managers who contribute to the financial well-being of companies. The basic difference in these positions is the setting in which they operate - public, government, or for-profit. What follows are some important similarities and differences between these two positions.

Job Title Education Requirements Average Salary (2019)* Job Growth (2018-2028)**
Controller Bachelor's degree plus professional experience $82,104 16% (for all financial managers)
Comptroller Bachelor's degree plus professional experience $68,291 16% (for all financial managers)

Sources: *; **Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Controllers vs. Comptrollers

Controllers and comptrollers are financial managers. Controllers typically work in for-profit business environments, whereas comptrollers usually work in public and government offices. Individuals in both positions oversee accounting activities and reporting. While the controller usually reports to the chief financial officer of a company, a comptroller often assumes the duties of both comptroller and chief financial officer in the public or government setting. Both positions have leadership and management responsibilities to the people who work in their areas.


Controllers often oversee the operations of financial departments such as auditing and budgeting within a company. They supervise the generation of various reports for internal and government consumption. Important skills needed by controllers are strong accounting ability, expertise in the use of financial software, and effective leadership and management of individuals and groups. Typically, controllers work full-time, approximately 40 hours per week. Most controllers travel very little or not at all for their jobs. Controllers may advance into positions such as company treasurer or chief financial officer.

Job responsibilities for controllers include the following:

  • Analyzing market trends
  • Analyzing earnings and expenses
  • Developing financial forecasts
  • Assisting management in making financial decisions
  • Communicating with internal and external clients


Comptrollers are financial managers who typically work in government or public settings and oversee financial departments such as accounts payable, purchasing, and budgeting. Often, they have some of the duties of chief financial officers in addition to those of comptrollers. They provide strong management and leadership to those individuals they supervise. They need to have excellent accounting skills and a thorough knowledge of finance software. Comptrollers may work 40 or more hours per week, and their travel for work is usually limited. If a comptroller is seeking advancement and is willing to work at a for-profit entity, chief financial officer or other executive-level finance position may be available.

Job responsibilities for comptrollers include the following:

  • Budget forecasting and development
  • Analyzing financial reports
  • Advising senior management on financial matters
  • Controlling expenses
  • Identifying and solving problems

Related Careers

A position as a financial analyst may be of interest to those who are also interested in positions as controllers since both positions require close analysis of financial data. Individuals who are interested in becoming comptrollers may also be interested in financial advisor positions because the positions advise others on financial matters.

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