If you are interested in looking for management positions in accounting, then you may have the opportunity to become a comptroller at some point in your career. This is an exciting career move, but it also comes with a specific set of responsibilities that go far beyond the duties of a regular accountant. At the highest level, comptrollers are directly responsible for the regulation and supervision of financial practices across federal agencies. They operate as part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. However, comptrollers also oversee the financial health of large private companies as well as state or local governments.


Like all accountants, all comptrollers have to start somewhere. A comptroller usually has a Bachelor’s degree in accounting. They will have specialized in subjects such as state and federal taxes, corporate tax laws, business regulations and advanced principles of finances and accounting. Finally, comptrollers usually hold one or two graduate degrees in a related field of study that demonstrates their ability to combine finances, marketing, management and accounting into one role that oversees the financial success of a company. Some comptrollers are MBA graduates, while others have Master’s degrees in Finance or Accounting that provide them with essential training for the comptroller role.

Certification and Training

A comptroller will usually be a certified public accountant (CPA) in the state in which they work, and they will continue to undergo training throughout their career in order to ensure that their license stays current and valid. Additional in-company training will help future comptrollers network over time and meet others who can provide references for their experience and skill. As the role of a comptroller is essentially a leadership position, they may also choose to enroll in leadership training courses during their career in order to prepare for the responsibilities they may take on at a later date.


Comptrollers tend to have a long and successful careers as accountants or accounting managers before they rise to become comptrollers. They will usually move into the position after 10 to 20 years as an accounting manager or as the head of an accounting department at a large company. They can demonstrate that they know how to perform audits and analyze large amounts of data as well as make sound financial decisions based on interpretation of that same data. They can use their initial education in accounting in order to inform their decisions at the corporate and federal levels.

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Becoming a Comptroller: Achieving a Bright Career in Finance and Accounting

Those who are on track for great careers in accounting can take their success to the next level by working hard and applying for positions as comptrollers. You may find yourself working for a private company or even a local, state or federal agency. If you become a comptroller, you will be so much more than just an accountant – you will be directly responsible for the financial health and well-being of a company, which can be a real source of pride for anyone in the field.