What Is The Difference Between a Comptroller and a Controller?

Comptroller vs ControllerMany people who are studying accounting or finance wonder what the difference between a comptroller and a controller is. If you are just entering school or you are assessing your upper-level management career options, it is important to distinguish between these very important titles. A clear explanation of the roles of a comptroller and a controller will help you gain an understanding of how the two titles differ and how they are similar. Read on to learn how these two closely related terms can refer to different activities and financial functions within an organization.

What Does a Comptroller Do?

A comptroller typically holds a more powerful title than a controller in the accounting department of an organization. While controllers and comptrollers both take care of financial accounts, the comptroller has a higher level of responsibility when they are employed within a government organization in the public sector. The functions of this professional will start once financial statements have been prepared following the governmental standards. At this point, the comptroller will review the statements and accounts by performing internal audits. The purpose of these activities are to oversee budgets so that they company can determine how the actual financials relate to the projected budgets.

What Does a Controller Do?

A controller is a bit different because it is a term that refers to a professional in a private organization who takes care of financial accounts for the company. As the upper-level finance professional in charge of keeping ledger accounts up-to-date and accurate, the controller plays an important role in the financial hierarchy, because they manage the books and perform integral functions that ensure financial records are always maintained up to an expected standard. Failure to maintain the books can lead to problems with lenders and shareholders. This is why controllers need to be highly trained and skilled finance professionals.

What Are the Major Differences Between Comptrollers and Controllers?

Both professionals conduct activities that are similar to one another in the field of finance, but there are major differences between comptrollers and controllers. The biggest difference between the two is that one works in the private sector and the other works in the public sector as a higher ranking professional. The main reason the comptroller is a higher ranking manager in finance, is because they will work with the profits and the internal costs of a government agency whereas the controller will work with costs and profits of a single stage of production or product development.

How Much Do You Earn?

Salaries in the field can vary dramatically. The median salary reported for controllers in the nation has been reported to be $74,359. Surprisingly, the median salary for the higher ranking comptroller averages in at about $59,728, according to PayScale. This is primarily because the top paying corporations in the private industry tend to pay higher salaries than governmental agencies.

Related Resource: Global MBA

It is important to decide which path you are interested in taking before you leave school. You will need the same level of education to pursue a job as a comptroller as you would to pursue a position as a controller. Be sure to compare reputable degree programs in finance with concentrations in internal auditing. Now that you know the difference between a comptroller and a controller, you can start networking to better your chances of landing a public or private position right out of school.