Controllers are financial professionals who function as accounting managers for companies. They usually earn both an undergraduate degree in accounting and a Master of Business (MBA) degree in accounting. They use computer software, but they do not all do the same tasks. Rather the tasks they do can vary depending on the type of company they are employed at. The following tasks are examples of what controllers do.
Controller Job Tasks
There are many job tasks that controllers can do. For example, controllers oversee accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll reconciliation, cash management and cash disbursement. They can negotiate company vendor agreements and lines of credit. They analyze company financial agreements and insurance. They handle collections of past due and present invoices. They work with company auditors and tax experts as part of the process of making sure that taxes are paid on time.
Controllers help the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company; they help the CEO to develop short-term and long-term plans for the company. The way controllers do this is that they keep track of cash flow reports, balance sheets, budgets, financial statements, SEC reports and financial projections. Sometimes, a controller might also give legal advice, but this occurs only if the controller happens to have a law degree in addition to having the MBA in accounting.
At times, controllers might eventually become CEOs. They are often sought after for CEO positions because they already have experience in advising CEOs. Or, for those who do not wish to be CEOs, there is the option of going back to graduate school to earn a doctoral degree in accounting in order to be prepared for a prestigious career in either consulting or academia.
The Online Accounting Degree and Becoming a Controller
In the United States, becoming a controller can be done with an online accounting degree if the school one attended was regionally accredited at the time of schooling. Being regionally accredited means that the school, at the time of attendance, must have been approved by one of the regional accrediting organizations in the United States such as the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the Northwest Accreditation Commission for Schools, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools or the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Also, in addition to the school being regionally accredited, at least one state in the United States must have accepted the coursework as being sufficient to sit for the Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. One must pass this exam, and one must be licensed in the state one hopes to work in. Of note, the state that one sits for the CPA exam in does not necessarily have to be the same state that one attended school in. This gives an individual many options.
One could attend a school that is solely an online school as long as the school offers an accounting program and is regionally accredited. Or, one could attend a well-known state university that recently started to offer an accounting degree program online. If one is not sure whether a school is regionally accredited, one can always email or telephone one of the aforementioned regional accrediting organizations in order to confirm regional accreditation.