Most major corporations rely on a chief financial officer (CFO) or other senior-level financial personnel. But the government, education centers, and nonprofit organizations more typically rely on a type of employee known as a comptroller. 

Not all comptrollers are alike. They differ by the level of government that they work for, and they can also differ according to their individual levels of responsibility. 

Here’s a breakdown of the job description and salary range for each type of comptroller position in the United States.

Comptroller

As a senior-level financial employee, a comptroller is responsible for a variety of financial processes that include:

  • Financial forecasting
  • Risk management
  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Financial checks and controls
  • Developing plans for corporate financial growth

A comptroller performs many of the same functions as a CFO and can manage existing financial data while also helping organizations hone their strategy for the future.

As such, comptrollers require the technical skills to work in the world of finance, but they also thrive when they possess a set of soft skills that include communication, leadership, and the ability to navigate changing business/regulatory environments.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, comptroller positions will grow by 8% between 2020 and 2030, which may open more doors for those looking for senior-level financial positions.

Comptroller: Salary Range

The average comptroller earns from $73,625 to $92,560 per year, with an average salary of $82,351. However, as you’ll see below, these numbers vary based on the type of comptroller and the region where they work.

How Many Comptrollers are in the United States?

At present, 4,153 comptrollers are working in the United States. They’re scattered evenly throughout the country, given that they tend to work for state and local governments.

U.S. Comptroller General

The comptroller general of the United States might easily be among the highest-profile comptroller positions out there. It’s the only position on the list appointed by the president of the United States. Each U.S. comptroller general serves a term of 15 years and serves as the head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

As head of this office, the comptroller general might be said to be the CFO of the United States. The comptroller general is responsible for tracking the effectiveness of federal spending policies. 

This critical position analyzes past data to evaluate America’s fiscal effectiveness, and the comptroller general reports the findings of the GAO directly to Congress.

U.S. Comptroller General: Salary

The U.S. comptroller general earns $168,000 per year.

How Many U.S. Comptrollers General Are There?

There is only one comptroller general of the United States. Currently, Eugene Louis Dodaro is the U.S. comptroller general. He was appointed by President Obama in 2010.

State Comptrollers

If the U.S. comptroller general serves as the would-be CFO of the United States, then state comptrollers serve the same function for each state. A state comptroller analyzes the budget, estimates state revenue, and evaluates the financial policies of the state government.

Some states elect their comptroller through a vote (e.g., Connecticut). In other states, the state comptroller is appointed by the governor (e.g., Virginia).

State Comptroller: Salary Range

State comptroller salaries can range widely, depending on the state. At the upper end, the Illinois State Comptroller earns $242,756, while the Connecticut state comptroller earns $119,000 per year.

How Many State Comptrollers Are There?

There are currently only 19 states that have a state comptroller. In nine of these states, voters elect the comptroller, while in the other ten states, the comptroller is appointed by the governor.

Deputy Comptrollers

A deputy comptroller typically serves at either the state or federal level, though some larger organizations may employ a deputy comptroller as part of the financial team.

Deputy comptrollers have an analytical and advisory role and give guidance based on past data and revenue projections. Depending on the organization, a deputy comptroller may also have direct involvement in managing teams.

Deputy Comptroller: Salary Range

In the United States, deputy comptrollers earn from $79,716 to $118,363 per year, with an average base salary of $96,416.

How Many Deputy Comptrollers Are There in the United States?

The number of deputy comptrollers can vary by organization, which makes it difficult to pinpoint solid data. For example, there’s only one U.S. deputy comptroller, while other organizations have additional deputy comptrollers, based on need and circumstance.

Assistant Comptrollers

Assistant comptrollers serve a supporting role for other financial staff. This may mean preparing reports and gearing up for potential audits, all under the discretion of the comptroller or deputy comptroller. The assistant comptroller may also have a supervisory role over other support staff.

Assistant Comptroller Salary

Assistant comptrollers make an average of $68,349 in the United States.

How Many Assistant Comptrollers Are There in the United States?

Data is hard to pinpoint, primarily because there’s considerable overlap between assistant comptroller and assistant controller positions.

A Public Role

These job titles and salaries represent just some of the roles that financial professionals can fill. For federal and local governments, these positions are key to efficiency and the flourishing of democracy, making them valuable public service positions.

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