Everything About A Financial Controller Career
You want to become a financial controller but are still not entirely sure whether this is the right career path for you or not?
Stick with me since I will show you all you need to know about being a financial controller in the following chapters.
Not only will I show you how much you can make as a financial controller, but we will also talk about job satisfaction, prospects, future outlook, educational requirements, work-life balance and much more.
At the end of this article, I also provide you with an FAQ section where I answer the most common questions about a financial controller career.
After reading this article, you will have a much better idea of whether you still want to work in this field or rather want to go for a different career instead.
What does a Financial Controller do?
Financial controllers plan and forecast costs for many different projects a company has.
They are important to control budgets and to make sure that goals are achieved with the lowest costs possible in order to assure the profitability and the competitiveness of the firm in the long run.
Responsibilities & Duties of a Financial Controller
- Create budgets for different projects
- Making sure that budgets are met
- Finding ways to make production processes even more efficient
- Cutting costs in areas where there had been too much money spent in the future
- Preparing financial forecasts
- Creation of cashflow reports
- Preparation of financial statements
- Communication of changes in budgets
- Drawing up balance sheets and the impact of controlling changes on them
- Working with many different departments
What a Typical Day of a Financial Controller looks like?
Financial controllers usually get to work between 8 and 9 a.m.
After checking their mails and answering the most urgent and important ones, controllers get to their actual work.
Quite often, you have to analyze budgets and make sure that not too much money will be spent on certain projects.
You will often also do analyses based on the past to determine how much a future project has to cost and whether it is too expensive or not.
You will also have to frequently coordinate yourself with other departments and also get some information from your team members to get things done.
After working in this manner for many hours, you will usually end your workday between 5 and 7 p.m.
Financial Controller Salary 2021
Financial Controller salary brackets 2021
|Salary Brackets||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|Top 10 %||> $157,000||> $78.39|
|Top 25 %||$118,000 – $135,000||$58.92 – $67.41|
|Bottom 25 %||$72,000 – $81,000||$35.88 – $40.45|
|Bottom 10 %||$53,000 – $62,000||$26.47 – $30.89|
|Range||$53,000 – $177,000||$26.47 – $88.38|
Financial Controller salary 2021 by expert level
|Level of Experience||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|Entry level||$53,000 – $61,000||$26.47 – $30.41|
|Junior||$59,000 – $68,000||$29.36 – $33.92|
|Professional||$65,000 – $86,000||$32.46 – $42.97|
|Senior Professional||$83,000 – $97,000||$41.38 – $48.42|
|Expert||$94,000 – $112,000||$46.88 – $55.89|
|Top Expert||$110,000 – $177,000||$54.93 – $88.38|
Financial Controller salary by state 2021 (average)
|State||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|District of Columbia||$93,600||$46.79|
Job Security for Financial Controllers
Financial controllers enjoy pretty decent job security.
Since they are financial experts who know how the financial side of things in corporations work, they are in high demand since almost every company out there needs those kinds of people to stay successful in the long run.
Future Job Prospects of Financial Controllers
Not only do financial experts have a high level of job security right now, but also future job prospects are pretty good, even though some jobs in this industry will vanish in the near future due to AI and machine learning since humans will just be replaced by machines to a certain extent.
However, there will still be a high demand for financial controllers in the future since machines will only be able to do pretty standardized tasks and not complex or creative things you will have to do at work.
Working Hours of Financial Controllers
Most financial controllers start their workday between 8 and 9 a.m. and finish their workday between 5 and 7 p.m.
Hence, you will work in a classical 9 to 5 environment where you will have lots of leisure and enough time to spend with your family while you will still make decent money from what you are doing for a living.
Job Satisfaction of Financial Controllers
Most financial controllers are pretty happy with what they are doing since they can make good money while they still don’t have to work many extra hours and also have more than enough leisure to spend with their loved ones or on the things they like even more than work.
Promotion Opportunities of Financial Controllers
Financial controllers have pretty decent promotion opportunities.
Since they are real financial experts, they can climb the corporate ladder and get into leading positions relatively soon.
While you might start out as normal employee, you will soon get budget or personnel responsibilities and if you work hard and also have a little bit of luck, you may get into senior management sooner or later.
Career Levels of Financial Controllers
- Financial controller intern
- Junior financial controller
- Senior financial controller
- Senior financial controller with budget and/or personnel responsibility
- Manager of the controlling department
- Supervisor of the entire financial department
- Chief financial officer
Fields and Types of Financial Controllers
- Financial controller focused on the creation of budgets
- Controller specialized in monitoring budgets
- Controller specialized in making forecasts
- Controller specialized in balance sheet developments
- Controller focused on legal stuff
- Financial controller specialized in monitoring internal costs
- Controller specialized in coordinating controlling with accounting
- Controller with expertise in the preparation of income statements
- Financial controller who builds complex financial models
Educational Requirements for Financial Controllers
If you want to work as a financial controller, you have to get a degree in business, finance, economics, accounting or in related fields.
Thus, you will have to spend many years in college and also have to study hard to get good grades and to get into one of the renowned companies out there where you can make really good money and climb the corporate ladder soon.
How to become a Financial Controller
- Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being a financial controller
- Finish high school with good grades
- Apply for your favorite degrees
- Start your college degree
- Get good grades
- Apply for an internship in the controlling department of local companies
- Make a good impression during your internship
- Stay in touch with your colleagues
- Get your college degree with good grades
- Apply for vacancies in this field
- Sign your employment contract and work hard
- Get into leading positions
Character Traits you need as a Financial Controller
- You should like to work with numbers
- You should be able to focus on your work without being distracted
- Willingness to work in a competitive environment
- Ability to separate the important from the unimportant stuff
- Empathy helps you communicate with different stakeholders
- Patience to climb the corporate ladder
- You should believe in yourself to overcome difficult periods of your career
- You should be willing to focus on your career
- Persistence helps to really get things done
Hard Skills for Financial Controllers
- Strong mathematical skills
- Good analytical skills
- Ability to work with numbers all day long
- Good sense of cost efficiency and how to improve it
- Knowledge of legal and regulatory requirements
- Understanding of how big corporations work internally
- Understanding of complex financial models
- Programming skills help as well
- Ability to streamline processes
Soft Skills for Financial Controllers
- Empathy for different stakeholders
- Good communication skills help to communicate unpleasant things
- You should be able to deal with critical feedback in a healthy manner
- You should not get discouraged by drawbacks
- You should know how to handle conflicts
- Compromising attitude helps to find solutions to complex problems
- Good time management skills help you get things done in time
- Good people skills help you run your own team
- Good understanding of how promotion processes in your company work
Exit Options for Financial Controllers
Financial controllers have many decent exit options. If they no longer want to work in the financial department, controllers can also work as financial analysts, risk managers, internal auditors, treasurers or budget analysts.
Financial Controller – Similar Careers
- Budget analyst
- Risk manager
- Financial analyst
- Investment banker
Financial Controller Career FAQs
Is working as a financial controller physically demanding?
Working as a financial controller is not physically demanding at all.
Quite often, you will just work on a computer and will not have to work in a heavy physical manner as construction workers, roofers or welders have to do on a regular basis and you therefore don’t have to stress your body that much and also your risk of suffering from physical health issues will be much lower.
Is working as a financial controller mentally demanding?
Working as a financial controller can be mentally demanding.
Quite often, you will have to do complex analyses to make sure that budgets are used as efficiently as possible and this can really stress your brain in the long run.
Is it dangerous to work as a financial controller?
Being a financial controller is not dangerous since you will work in a pretty safe work environment and don’t have to operate heavy machines.
In turn, you will have a pretty low risk of getting seriously injured at work compared to many other people out there who have to work with their hands.
How long do financial controllers stay in their jobs?
Financial controllers stay in this field for many years or even decades since most of them are pretty happy with what they are doing for a living since they can make good money and still have enough leisure to spend with their loved ones at the same time.
Consequently, their motivation to change fields is often pretty low.
Is it easy for financial controllers to find a new job?
Since financial controllers are real experts when it comes to analyzing balance sheets and creating budgets, they are also in high demand since they can provide decent value to the company they work for.
Consequently, it is pretty easy for financial controllers to find a new job in case they get fired.
Is it hard to switch from being a financial controller to another field of work?
While it is pretty easy to switch from being a controller to another related field in the financial industry, it will be pretty hard to switch to a field that is completely unrelated to finances.
For instance, you will have a hard time changing your job from being a financial controller to working in the construction industry.
However, you will have a pretty easy time if you want to switch to the internal auditing or accounting world instead.
Do financial controllers have a high social status?
Controllers have a decent social status.
While they don’t have the same high status as doctors who can save lives on a daily basis, financial controllers are still admired by many people and you will have a pretty decent standing in your circle for friends.
Can you help out your family and friends as a financial controller?
You can also help out your family and friends as a financial controller since you will understand a lot about how finance really works and you can therefore give your loved ones valuable investment advice on how to invest wisely in the long run without going broke on the way.
Can financial controllers work remotely?
Since financial controllers can do all of their work on a computer, there is no need to be present at their workplace in person.
Instead, financial controllers can often work from home and will be more flexible when it comes to managing their private as well as their professional life at the same time.
Is it easy to find a partner as a financial controller?
It is pretty easy to find a partner for financial controllers since you will be able to make decent money while you will still have enough leisure for your loved ones.
Consequently, you will be an excellent provider and many people in the dating market will be searching for someone like you.
Do financial controllers have to work on weekends?
Controllers don’t have to work on weekends.
Instead, you can spend precious time with your family or your friends or you can also spend sufficient time on your hobbies or other things around the home that need to be done sooner or later.
Do financial controllers have to work on holidays?
Financial controllers don’t have to work on holidays.
While train drivers, waiters and many other people out there have to work during those unpleasant times, you will be able to enjoy those days with your loved ones and you can also do nice city trips.
Do financial controllers have to work at nighttime?
Financial controllers don’t have to work at nighttime.
Instead, you will work in a classical 9 to 5 job, at least when you start out your career and don’t have personnel or budget responsibility yet.
Over time, once you get more responsibility, also your working hours may get longer but you will still not have to work at nighttime most often.
Do you have to travel as a financial controller?
While you will not have to travel during the first years of your career, you may have to travel more once you get more senior and get more responsibility since business trips will become more common and you may be away from home quite often.
Are financial controller pensions good?
Financial controllers are able to get really good pensions thanks to their high salaries.
Moreover, financial controllers are also able to save and invest enough money for retirement and due to their good financial understanding, they are also able to make decent investment decisions and can grow their wealth.
Once they retire, financial controllers often have a pretty comfortable financial position and don’t have to worry about money that much anymore.
Are financial controller salaries going up?
The salary of financial controllers has been going up significantly over the past decade.
Financial controllers are in high demand right now and with a rather small supply of qualified workers in this field, you can demand high wages and will also have almost freedom of choice regarding whom you want to work for.
Can you have a positive effect on society as a financial controller?
While financial controllers are pretty important for the companies they work for, their overall social impact will be rather limited and they will also not do that much good for society since their goal is to maximize the profits of the company they work for and not to make the world a better place.
How long does it take to become a financial controller?
Since you will have to get a college degree, it will usually take you at least 4 years to become a financial controller.
If you want to get a master’s or doctor’s degree, it will take you even longer.
Hence, you should be willing to spend lots of time and money on education before you really decide on becoming a financial controller.
Is it difficult to become a financial controller?
Becoming a financial controller is not that difficult. However, you still have to spend many years on college education and study hard to get good grades.
It can also help to work as an intern to get a foot in the door of renowned companies and to get an edge over the competition.
Do you need to be smart to work as a financial controller?
While you don’t have to be a real genius, you should still have a decent IQ if you want to succeed as a financial controller in the long run since you will often have to work on complex financial models and if you don’t have a certain level of smartness, you will often not get things done in time.
Do financial controllers have a good work-life balance?
Financial controllers have a pretty decent work-life balance.
Quite often, controllers just work 9 to 5 and come home from work early.
Consequently, many financial controllers are pretty happy with what they make while they still have enough time for their families.
Do financial controllers have to work many extra hours?
Financial controllers also don’t have to work many extra hours.
While you may have to work extra hours during stressful times of the year, you will have a rather relaxed time in this regard for most of your workdays and becoming a controller can therefore make quite a lot of sense for you if you search for a job that pays well but doesn’t require you to spend as much money on your career as a job as an investment banker or analyst would do.
How to maximize your chances of becoming a financial controller?
To maximize your chances of becoming a financial controller, you should get good grades and also make sure to get some practical experience.
Hence, you should apply for an internship in the controlling department of local companies as soon as possible and stay in touch with your colleagues so that you don’t have to officially apply for a job anymore but rather have connections to get things done.
Can financial controllers work part-time?
While it is possible to work as a financial controller part-time, many controllers still work full-time since they want to make more money and if you really aspire to a fancy career in the corporate world, a part-time job will just not be enough and you need to work full-time to reach your career goals.
Do financial controllers work indoors or outdoors?
Financial controllers work indoors in a classical office environment and don’t have to care about the weather outdoors while construction workers, roofers or welders often have to work under extreme conditions outdoors.
What does the workplace of a financial controller look like?
As a controller, you will work in a classical office environment and will do most things with a computer.
Consequently, you should not become a financial controller if you love to work with your hands and want to really create physical things since most of your working results will be rather abstract and hardly measurable.
Do you have to look good for working as a financial controller?
Your looks don’t matter for succeeding as a financial controller. Sure, you should look groomed so that your colleagues like to work with you.
However, you don’t have to look like a supermodel to get into a leading position in the controlling department.
Is a financial controller career beneficial for your private life?
Working as a financial controller can be pretty beneficial for your private life since you will have an easy time finding a partner and since you make really good money, you will be able to afford many nice things and chances are that your partner will stay with you while many other relationships often break up sooner or later.
Do you need a college degree for becoming a financial controller?
You need at least a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, business, economics or related fields to work as a financial controller.
Even better would be a master’s degree if you really aspire to a fancy career.
Do you need to be certified to work as a financial controller?
There is no need to get certified as a financial controller.
If you get your college degree with good grades and also gather some experience in this field, your chances will be good to get a job in this rather competitive environment without getting further qualifications.
How much does it cost to become a financial controller?
It can be quite costly to become a financial controller since you will have to go to college and this means that you will have to spend lots of money on tuition, housing and other expenses related to college.
Consequently, you may have to spend a six-figure amount on your education and may even have to take on student loans to finance your degree.
Is being a financial controller a good career?
Many people consider working as a controller a good career since financial controllers can make really good money while they still don’t have to work as much as many other people in the financial industry and still have pretty decent job security at the same time.
Is it easy to start your own business as a financial controller?
It is pretty hard to start your own business as a financial controller since you will specialize in minimizing the costs of big corporations and your knowledge will be hardly transferrable to an individual business level where completely other skills will be needed to succeed.
Can financial controllers teach themselves?
While you can learn a lot about financial controlling by teaching yourself, you will still have to get fancy formal college education before you get the chance of working in this field in most countries of our planet and teaching yourself will just not be enough.
Do financial controllers make good money?
Financial controllers can make decent money while they still don’t have to work long hours every day.
Hence, becoming a financial controller can make sense for you if you want to have a decent lifestyle but leisure is still important to you and you don’t want to spend all of your time on your career.
Is it ever too late to become a financial controller?
It is never too late to become a financial controller.
However, the sooner you start your controlling career, the sooner you can make it worth the initial investment in college education and the younger you are, the easier it will be to find a job while you will have a much harder time if you are already in your 40s or 50s.
Do financial controllers have to quit their careers early?
Most financial controllers don’t have to quit their careers early since they work in classical office jobs and you can do this kind of work for many decades while many other people who work with their hands in a physically demanding environment will have to quit their careers early due to physical health issues.
What is the most challenging thing about working as a financial controller?
The most challenging thing about a financial controller career is that you have to coordinate yourself with many different departments and many people within your organization will not like your plans of cutting costs and you may have serious conflicts on a daily basis.
Can you provide for your family by working as a financial controller?
Thanks to the good money you can make as a financial controller, you will also have an easy time providing for your family.
In fact, money will not be a problem for you as long as you don’t spend all of it on consumption but rather invest your money wisely.
Will financial controllers suffer from old-age poverty?
Financial controllers don’t suffer from old-age poverty often since they get decent pensions and are also able to set enough money aside during their active careers to build a big retirement fund for the time they quit their active careers and enjoy the last part of their lives.
Can financial controllers retire early?
If you save and invest your money in a smart way, you may be able to retire early as a financial controller.
However, most financial controllers still work until retirement age since they just like what they are doing and most of them still don’t make enough to be able to retire in their 50s.
Do financial controllers get a fixed or variable salary?
At the beginning of your career, you will just get a fixed salary most of the time.
However, once you get more experience and have more responsibilities, you will also have a variable portion in your salary and the higher you climb the corporate ladder, the bigger this variable fraction will get.
Can you get rich as a financial controller?
While you can make decent money as a financial controller, you will still not get rich most of the time.
If you really want to get rich, you should start your own business since working as a normal controller will not get you anywhere near this goal, even though it will be enough to afford a decent lifestyle.
Do financial controllers need a second job?
Thanks to their good salary, financial controllers don’t need a second job to pay their bills.
Instead of working a second job, you can rather enjoy your leisure with the things you like even more than working.
Do you get continuous training as a financial controller?
You will also get training on a regular basis to stay up-to-date with latest technological developments as a financial controller.
Only if you continuously learn, you will be able to adapt to the fast technological progress and stay competitive in the long run.
Do you get sick pay as a financial controller?
Most big companies also offer sick pay to financial controllers as additional perks.
However, you can never be 100% sure in this regard and you should therefore have a look at your employment contract or ask your colleagues.
Do financial controllers have a high level of responsibility?
While controllers have a high level of responsibility for the companies they work for, they will still have a pretty low level of responsibility for society since the decisions of financial controllers will not have a huge impact on the lives of many people but will rather matter on a corporate financial level.
Can financial controllers work abroad?
Financial controllers are in high demand in many parts of the world.
Hence, you will have an easy time finding a job in a foreign country as long as you speak the local language.
However, you may still earn considerably less if you want to work in a low-wage country compared to high-wage countries like the US.
Is it stressful to work as a financial controller?
Working as a financial controller is not that stressful.
While you will have days when you have more than enough things to do, you will also have periods when you have a pretty relaxed time at work and will not have to deal with stressful situations at all.
Is it boring to work as a financial controller?
Being a financial controller may become boring if you don’t have an interest in working with numbers and if you don’t have any deeper motivation for your job.
Thus, make sure that you are passionate about this career path since you might end up in a pretty bad situation otherwise and may get really bored and frustrated in the long run.
Is being a financial controller hard?
Working as a financial controller is not that hard.
Since you will have free weekends, holidays and also don’t have to work much overtime, you will have enough time to relax from work and to recover from stressful situations.
Are financial controllers at risk of burnout?
Since you will not have to deal with high levels of stress as a financial controller, your risk of suffering from burnout will be rather low compared to other people who work as investment bankers or consultants long and stressful hours every day.
Is there a dress code for financial controllers?
You will often have to wear a suit or a conservative dress as a financial controller.
If you don’t feel comfortable with this kind of clothing, you may rather want to work in an environment where your appearance doesn’t matter that much and you can wear whatever you want.
What kind of financial controllers are paid the most?
The more experience you get and the more responsibility you have, the higher your salary will be as a financial controller.
Thus, if you want to make really good money, you should strive for a leading position with budget and personnel responsibility.
What percentage of financial controllers are women?
There is a pretty healthy balance between men and women in the controlling industry.
In fact, it is almost 50:50 and you will not have any advantage or disadvantage due to your gender.
Do I need a mentor to succeed as a financial controller?
You don’t need a mentor to succeed as a controller.
However, it is still important to build a strong business network so that you can climb the corporate ladder as soon as possible.
Will you be personally liable for mistakes as a financial controller?
You will not be personally liable for mistakes as a financial controller most of the time while you are still on a junior level.
However, once you get more experienced and climb the corporate ladder, you may become personally liable for mistakes and you may therefore get proper insurance.
Do financial controllers have a high life expectancy?
Financial controllers have a pretty decent life expectancy since they don’t have to work in a dangerous environment and also make good money so that they can afford proper medical treatment in case of emergency.
Do financial controllers suffer from sleeping problems?
Financial controllers don’t suffer from sleeping problems that often since they don’t have to work at nighttime and can preserve a healthy sleeping rhythm.
They also don’t have to deal with lots of stress at work that often keeps other people awake at night.
What states are best for working as a financial controller?
If you want to make really good money as a financial controller, you should settle down in a state and a city where many big corporations are.
For instance, great choices in this regard are New York and California.
Who do financial controllers work with?
While you will not have direct contact with consumers, you will still work with many different departments within your company as a financial controller and you should therefore have decent people skills to master tense situations.
Is working as a financial controller cool?
Working as a financial controller is not considered cool by the majority of young people.
However, you should not worry about the coolness level of your job but should rather ask yourself how your life will likely turn out as a financial controller and whether you will be happy with it or not when it comes to the actual decision of whether you want to become a controller or not.
Can you start a side hustle as a financial controller?
You can also start a side hustle as a financial controller since you will have enough time for it and you will also have lots of financial knowledge that can be useful to a broad audience.
Hence, you can start a finance blog or YouTube channel, build an audience and monetize this audience in the long run.
Do you have to be creative as a financial controller?
You don’t have to be creative to succeed as a financial controller.
What’s much more important is that you have strong analytical skills and that you love to work with numbers while creativity will not be urgently needed for most of your tasks.
Do financial controllers suffer from overweight?
Since financial controllers work in a classical office environment and often don’t get enough exercise, they also often suffer from overweight or obesity and if you want to stay in shape, you would have to go to the gym quite often or do other sports in the evening.
How employable are financial controllers?
Financial controllers are in high demand right now and are therefore pretty employable.
In fact, every company needs financial experts to stay successful in the long run and you will therefore have almost freedom of choice regarding whom you want to work for.
Are financial controllers happy with their jobs?
Most financial controllers are pretty happy with what they are doing for a living since they can make decent money while they still have more than enough leisure and also don’t have that much stress at work.
Is working as a financial controller exciting?
Working as a financial controller is not that exciting since you will do pretty standardized tasks and will not experience many new things after a few years anymore.
Can you have a positive impact on our environment as a financial controller?
Your positive impact on our environment will be rather limited as a financial controller since all you care about will be the finances of your company and you will just not take environmental issues into account as much as long as they don’t have any impact on the profits of the company you work for.
What are the pros and cons of working as a financial controller?
If you want to learn even more about being a controller, you may also want to have a look at additional pros and cons of a financial controller career.
Interviews and own research.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.
This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.
Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.
I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.
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