Home / Career Guides / Assistant Controller

Assistant Controller Career Guide

What is an assistant controller?

An assistant controller is a finance pro who helps the main finance boss, like a controller or CFO, keep track of a company’s money and how it’s handled. This job usually pops up in big companies where managing money is complex and requires a lot of checks. They make sure that the company’s money reports are on time and follow the rules.

Duties and responsibilities

Assistant controllers do a mix of leading others and hands-on money work. They help put together important reports and budgets, check the accounting work to verify there are no mistakes, and help close out the books at the end of the month or year. They also guide and check on the work of junior accountants, help with audits and taxes, and suggest ways to improve the accounting process.

Work environment

Assistant controllers work in offices where they team up with other finance and accounting folks. They often talk to different departments to get and share important financial info. They use a lot of tech tools to manage and look over big amounts of financial data. 

Typical work hours

Assistant controllers usually work a regular 40-hour week, but sometimes they need to work extra during busy times like the end of financial quarters or years. This can mean starting early, staying late, or working some weekends.

How to become an assistant controller

Becoming an assistant controller means you need the right education and some hands-on experience. Here’s a simple guide on what to do:

Step 1: Get a bachelor’s degree

Start by getting a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or business. You’ll learn about managing money, accounting, and business laws in these programs.

Step 2: Work in accounting or finance

After college, work as an accountant, financial analyst, or auditor. These jobs help you use what you learned in school and improve your ability to analyze finances, manage budgets, and prepare financial reports.

Step 3: Get certified

It helps to have a certification like a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA). These make you look more professional and teach you more about finance and accounting.

Step 4: Consider a master’s degree (optional)

Some people go for a master’s degree in business (MBA) or accounting. This is extra and not required, but it can help if you want to move up to higher management jobs or work in big companies.

Step 5: Apply for jobs

With your degree, experience, and maybe a certification, you’re ready to apply for assistant controller jobs. These jobs are available in industries such as manufacturing, retail, or healthcare.

Step 6: Keep learning

Even after you get the job, keep learning about new trends and rules in finance. You can go to workshops, take advanced courses, or get more certifications.

Online courses to consider:

How much do assistant controllers make?

Assistant controller salaries can be influenced by their location, years of experience, level of education, industry, and the company’s size. In addition, their responsibilities and job complexity can significantly impact income. Some may receive additional compensation through bonuses, profit sharing, or commissions.

Highest paying industries

  • Finance: $115,420
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises: $112,730
  • Insurance Carriers: $110,580
  • Federal Government: $109,920
  • Manufacturing: $107,450

Highest paying states

  • New York: $122,840
  • New Jersey: $120,150
  • Massachusetts: $118,620
  • California: $116,890
  • Virginia: $115,230

Browse assistant controller salary data by market

Types of assistant controllers

Assistant controllers have different jobs depending on where they work. Here’s a quick look at what they do in different settings:

  • Corporate assistant controller: These guys work in big companies, helping to manage all the money stuff. They make reports, enforce rules, and oversee the team that handles the finances.
  • Nonprofit assistant controller: In nonprofits, money management has to follow strict rules because they get checked a lot. These assistants ensure everything from budgets to reports fits these special rules.
  • Manufacturing assistant controller: In places that make products, they monitor the costs of making things, how much stuff is stocked, and how efficiently everything is made. This is super important for planning how to spend money in manufacturing.
  • Government assistant controller: Because they handle taxpayer money, government agencies need to be very careful. Assistant controllers help make budgets, do audits, and ensure all money matters are by the law.
  • Healthcare assistant controller: These assistant controllers work in hospitals or clinics, managing the finances related to patient care, insurance, and department budgets. They check that everything follows health rules and money guidelines.
  • Small business assistant controller: In a small business, assistant controllers do a bit of everything — from keeping books and handling paychecks to making financial reports and following the rules. They really need to know all parts of the business’s finances.

Top skills for assistant controllers

To succeed as an assistant controller, you need some key skills. Here’s what tops the list:

  • Solid accounting knowledge: First up, you gotta understand accounting inside and out. Getting this right keeps everything accurate and follows the money rules.
  • Analytical skills: Next, being good at analyzing is crucial. This helps the company make smart financial choices.
  • Attention to detail: When it comes to finances, even small mistakes can cause big problems. Being super careful and paying attention to the details ensures that all financial records are spot-on.
  • Communication skills: You also need to be great at sharing information. Good communication means everyone understands the financial situation and any big decisions that need to be made.
  • Proficiency in financial software: Finally, knowing your way around financial software is essential. Being skilled here makes handling lots of financial data way easier and more accurate.

Assistant controller career path

Gain experience 

Early in your career, you might work as a staff accountant or financial analyst. These jobs let you get hands-on with tasks like making financial reports, setting budgets, and analyzing financial data. This experience is critical to really understanding how a finance department works.

Become an assistant controller 

After a few years and a lot of experience, you might step up to become an assistant controller. This job involves helping to manage the company’s finances, like preparing financial statements, overseeing budgeting, and making sure all the financial work follows the rules.

Move up to controller 

With even more experience and strong leadership skills, an assistant controller can become a controller. This role has more responsibility, including managing all a company’s financial activities and making big financial decisions.

Aim for CFO 

The next step up could be becoming a chief financial officer, where you get to handle big-picture financial planning, deal with people who have a stake in the company, and make major executive decisions.

As technology and financial systems get more advanced, assistant controllers must be tech-savvy, especially with different financial software and data analysis tools.

Businesses are always trying to stay stable and grow, especially when the economy keeps changing. Assistants who are good at planning for the future and managing costs are in high demand because they help companies stay on top of their game.

Employment projections

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for financial managers is expected to jump 17% through 2031, much faster than most jobs. This growth is fueled by the need for better risk management and making decisions based on data. So, if you’re good with tech, financial data, and strategic thinking, you’re likely to find plenty of opportunities.

Assistant controller career tips

Understand your industry’s financial scene

Get to know the financial ins and outs of your industry. This includes the rules, trends, and key metrics that matter.

Get good at financial reporting

In this job, you’ll need to create financial reports regularly. Make sure you know the basics of financial reporting, budgeting, and future financial predictions.

Know your tools

Learn about the financial software that’s important in your industry. Tools like QuickBooks, SAP, or Oracle are your best friends when managing finances.

Boost your communication skills

You’ll need to talk about complex financial details with other teams, auditors, and big bosses. Being clear and effective in your communication is vital.

Stay ethical

You’ll handle sensitive financial info, so it’s important to stick to high ethical standards like keeping secrets safe and being honest.

Continue learning

The financial world keeps changing. Stay sharp by learning continuously. You can take CPA or CMA courses or get trained in new financial software.

Lead the way

You might end up leading a team. Work on your leadership skills to inspire and manage your team well.


Building connections can lead to learning new things, finding mentors, and even discovering job opportunities. Check out groups like the American Association of Finance and Accounting (AAFA) or the Financial Executives International (FEI).

Stay on top of tax rules

Tax laws can change a lot. Keep up to date to make sure your company follows all the tax rules.

Learn to read financial data

Being able to look at complex financial data and understand what it means can help you make smart decisions and offer great advice.

Where the assistant controller jobs are

Top companies

  • Deloitte
  • PwC
  • EY
  • KPMG

Top states

  • California
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Illinois
  • Florida

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • CareerBuilder
  • Monster.com


What qualifications are needed to become an assistant controller?

The role typically requires a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or a related field. A master’s degree in business administration or accounting can be beneficial. Many employers also prefer candidates with CPA or CMA certifications. Additionally, several years of experience in accounting or finance roles, with a track record of progressively increasing responsibility, may be necessary.

What kind of training does an assistant controller typically undergo?

Often gaining training in lower-level accounting or finance roles, they learn to prepare financial statements, manage budgets, conduct audits, and comply with laws and regulations. Formal education in accounting or finance provides foundational knowledge, while certifications like the CPA or CMA require additional study and exams. Continued professional development through workshops, seminars, and courses is widespread.

What are the essential skills of an assistant controller?

Analytical skills are needed to interpret complex financial data and identify trends. Proficiency in accounting software and related technologies ensures ongoing success. Other skills include attention to detail, problem-solving abilities, and strong communication. They often manage a team, so leadership and interpersonal skills are also necessary.

What does a typical day look like for an assistant controller?

A typical day might involve reviewing financial reports, overseeing the work of accounting staff, and ensuring compliance with policies and regulations. They might also analyze financial data, prepare forecasts, and work on budgeting. Communication with other departments, managers, and external auditors is routine.

What are the main responsibilities of an assistant controller?

Their responsibilities may include supervising accounting operations, preparing financial reports, and helping with budget preparation. They ensure compliance with accounting standards and regulatory requirements, oversee audits, and monitor internal controls. The role may also include helping to develop financial strategies, analyzing data, and making decisions.

What industries employ assistant controllers?

Most businesses and organizations need professionals to manage financial operations, including manufacturing, healthcare, technology, finance, retail, and nonprofit organizations. They may also work for government agencies or accounting firms that provide financial services to other companies.

What is the role of an assistant controller in financial planning?

An assistant controller prepares budgets, forecasts, and financial projections in financial planning. They analyze data to identify trends, assess performance, and provide insights to inform decision-making. Work may also include evaluating capital investments, identifying cost-saving opportunities, and developing strategies to improve profitability.

How does an assistant controller ensure compliance with accounting standards and regulations?

Compliance is obtained by staying current with accounting standards and regulations and implementing them in an organization’s financial operations. They oversee the preparation of financial reports, monitor internal controls to prevent inaccuracies, and coordinate with external auditors.

What challenges do assistant controllers often encounter?

Challenges include managing complex financial data, ensuring accurate financial reporting, and maintaining compliance with changing regulations. Managing teams, meeting deadlines, and communicating complex financial information to non-financial staff members may be demanding. 

How does an assistant controller stay updated with accounting methods and regulations?

They stay updated by engaging in continuous professional development through workshops, courses, and seminars. Professional organizations and industry publications also provide valuable insights. Webinars or industry events are good places to learn about the latest trends or changes in accounting standards and regulations.