What Is A Chief Executive Officer? CEO Role Explained

chief accounting officer vs controller

When it comes to deciding which position is right for your business, there are several factors you need to consider. Firstly, you need to assess the size and complexity of your organization’s financial operations. If your business has a relatively simple accounting structure with basic bookkeeping needs, then a controller may be sufficient.

chief accounting officer vs controller

The controller’s main focus is the daily management of the company’s financial records and accounting. CAOs, on the other hand, simultaneously keep an eye on the past, present, and future. Like the controller, CAOs need to know the numbers inside and out, but CAOs are watching out for potential threats and opportunities that will impact the business. This is most clearly reflected in the CAO’s role in ESG reporting and risk management.


A director of accounting may need more interpersonal skills as they often oversee a team of accountants. This means they need to be able to communicate effectively, provide feedback and resolve conflicts. They also may need project management skills to plan and implement new accounting initiatives. The education requirements for a director of accounting and controller are similar, as both positions typically require a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) or a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license.

Chief accounting officers are in charge of making sure a company’s accounting practices comply with federal law. As a result, companies won’t hand over the reins of this high-level oversight responsibility to individuals who don’t have a solid understanding of the accounting world. Seeking a master’s degree in accounting is a way to focus on highly relevant and in-demand skills and competencies. Taking such courses online allows students to build chief accounting officer vs controller up credits while remaining employed in their present roles, building professional experience hiring managers may notice. Understanding the role of a controller also necessitates understanding the role of a chief financial officer (CFO ) and how these roles interact. A chief accounting officer (CAO) is generally used as an updated and more precise term for a controller, but it can also be a distinct position separate from the controller.

The Future of Accounting Education: Preparing Students for a Career in the Age of AI

Directors of accounting typically work in an office environment, but they may also travel to meet with clients and vendors. They often have a team of accountants working for them who report directly to them. Controllers usually work in an office environment, but they may also travel to visit different locations where their company has operations. BLS data projects the number of financial manager jobs will grow 15% between 2019 and 2029. While the data does not break out the number of those positions that will be for the controller role, this is much faster than the 4% projected growth rate for all occupations during this period.

Controllers tend to make more money and have to manage people and organize departments; not all accountants have the same responsibility. Some people thrive in management roles, and these are the best candidates for controller jobs. Others are happiest as experts in their own fields without the complications of oversight. This should be a major factor when deciding about a potential controller career. You could boil down the choice between mid-level accountant and controller to one between specialization and general control. Most accountants become increasingly specialized and narrowed in their career focus over a few years, in part because that helps fuel higher salaries.