How to Become a Controller

In order to become a controller, you will most likely have to go through a rigorous process of education and hard work. However, if you can successfully land a job as a controller, you will be able to have a prestigious position as well as a great salary. Here are the basics of how to successfully become a controller.


Education is one of the most critical parts of becoming a controller. The position of controller is one of the highest posts that you can reach in the business world. Therefore, these jobs will typically be reserved for those that have very high quality educations in business. This means that you will want to start planning early on in the educational process. You will need to start out by obtaining a bachelors degree in business administration, finance, or accounting. From there, you should move on to graduate school and try to obtain a master's degree. While many controllers have master's degrees, you might want to also consider getting a PhD in one of those fields. There is typically a lot of competition for controller openings and having a PhD might set you apart from the rest of the field. Throughout your education process you should take as many math and accounting classes as possible. This will give you a good foundation to work from when trying to secure a controller job.

Starting Out

Most people will have to work their way up to a position as a controller. This is not an entry-level job and you should not plan on getting this position right out of college. Most people that wish to eventually become a controller will start out with a position in the accounting department of a large corporation. Controllers will do a lot of work that is associated with accounting. Therefore, this makes a great place for you to start your pursuit of the position. If you do not wish to get a job as an accountant, you should get some other type of management position that deals with finance matters.


While you are working at your entry level position, you will want to do your best to network with people in the company. You need to become familiar with all of the management and executives that you have direct access to. This will allow you to have the opportunity to apply for internal openings as they become available.

Assistant Controller

Most large corporations will have a position known as assistant controller. This position is a stepping stone to the position of controller. Try to keep an eye open for openings for the assistant controller position. This will give you direct access to a controller position when it becomes available. The sooner that you can move from the accounting department into a role as assistant controller, the better off you will be.

Landing the Job

Sometimes it will take several years in order for you to successfully get a job as a controller. Just remember to be patient and do a good job in your current position. Eventually, a situation will present itself to you.