If you think being an accountant or controller is an appealing and rewarding job, think again. Basically, they deal with finances of an entity especially during tax season. Sometimes, they crunch the numbers and manage people at the same time. Now, let this article differentiate these two professions.


Accountants serve as bookkeepers or evaluators of their fellow bookkeepers’ work in order to prevent discrepancies and maintain accuracy for their colleagues, shareholders, creditors, and regulators. Non-controller accountants can specialize in numerous areas and work for the government or a private entity. Forensic accountants for the FBI undergo firearms training as well.

Majority of accountants have graduated with an accounting degree. Those who have a degree in economics, finance, mathematics, or statistics can become accountants, too. Many employers prefer certified public accountants who understand the generally accepted accounting principles.

Tax accountants or junior auditors only need one to three years of work experience after obtaining a CPA license. Senior financial accounting and reporting jobs require three to six years of work experience. For senior-level accountancy jobs, various companies prefer a CPA designation, and at times, a certified management accountant, chartered financial analyst, or other related designation.

Several accountants work 40 to 45 hours a week and enjoys plenty of paid leave, vacation time, and holidays. Their schedule is also flexible. However, during tax season, accountants render 10 (or more) hours for six days a week. The average salary of a tax accountant ranges between $45,000 and $65,000, while career accountants take home around $60,000 within three to five years after becoming CPAs. Internal audit managers or tax managers earn $100,000.


In essence, controllers serve as a chief accounting officer in a company and are considered an executive staff who control or organize the accounting division of their company. Knowledgeable in accounting, business forecasting, and tax management, they also interpret financial data. A controller may also exhibit his expertise on corporate governance, creditor relationships, and investments.

The most common ones are business controllers and corporate controllers, who supervise their employer’s overall accounting system. Those who work in smaller firms set up the accounting infrastructure and perform bookkeeping. In the government, controllers are similar to chief financial officers for their respective agencies.

In some cases, a controller handles one or two assistant controllers who are normally less experienced. These professionals spend more time in daily data collection, journal entry preparation, and regulatory and statutory reporting.

Most controllers hold a CMA designation and have a master’s degree in finance, including Master of Business Administration. It also helps to take years of direct accounting experience.

An average controller renders 170 hours a month or less than 43 hours a week. They also experience a better work/life balance, unlike other professions in the financial industry. The median salary of a financial manager is $77,000. An accounting manager assistant controller takes home $78,000; an assistant controller takes home $82,000. CFO controllers earns $116,000.