Controller: education, further training, salary, job offers

What tasks does a controller have?

Controlling encompasses the entire process, from setting the target, to planning, to management in the area of finance and performance management.

This includes the responsibility for defining, deciding, managing. Therefore, controlling is assigned to a manager. They have to decide on goals and detailed planning. While the manager runs the business and is responsible for the result, the controller has the economic meaning and takes the responsibility for the results transparency. This interplay of the management and the controller accounts for the controlling in the intersection.

The management work is not tied to a specific company size, but must also be binding in small companies. Controlling does not have to be personal. However, the management must be oriented towards the goal and planning, be anticipatory as well as adaptive and decentralized. If a management that meets these requirements is not available, the controlling services make no sense.

Which requirements should a controller fulfill?

A controller not only has to have the ability to present and explain projects and results. They have to ask questions and be ready for discussions. They are also often required to deliver bad news or demand responsibility. In addition to good communication, rhetorical and also social skills, controllers need above all assertiveness and perseverance.

Basic mathematical as well as logical skills, but also entrepreneurial thinking (and acting) are basic prerequisites for successful controlling. For the latter, a business education is a good basis. In manufacturing companies, technical understanding is essential. The development of controlling knowledge is also necessary. Here, the controller learns to use instruments, to interpret results and to derive measures from them. The necessary data are usually determined by appropriate software. Intensive knowledge of the relevant programs and communication media are therefore also part of the requirements portfolio of a modern controller.

Source: ICV Controlling Wiki, „Controlling” [German]

What does a controller do? Tasks, perspectives, job chances

"A pea counter" - many thought and still think that this is a controller: Check business figures and make sure that they are correct or will be corrected. These times have been long gone. Today, the controller is a management partner, in a ideal case controller is involved in the planning and on this basis can make the figures behind the management objectives tangible, examine them, analyze, advise and, if necessary, take corrective actions. A controller recognizes also potential savings as well as development opportunities and synergies. Profitability has always top priority for a controller. In order to ensure this, controller uses their extensive tools to support them in planning, managing and reporting. The professional image of the controller is correspondingly challenging and complex.

Read about it [German]:

How to become a controller? Studies

There are several ways to become controllers. On the one hand, there is the possibility to acquire the necessary knowledge in a course of studies, for example by studying business administration with a focus on controlling. Within a dual studies deepening the theoretical knowledge from high schools or universities can be acquired parallel during practical training in a company.

How to become a controller? Studies and seminars

Anyone who wants to get to know controlling studies or courses and know more about them, has also numerous opportunities.

The CA controller academie has fully committed itself to the subject of controlling (offers in German and partly English). There are

  • Systematic Training Programs (Controllers Five-Level Training Program, Bank Controllers Five-Level Training Program, Business Skills for Executives, Certified Accounting Specialists (CAS)
  • Further training and specialization seminars (social competences, project controlling, information management and reporting, company management, financial management, accounting and company evaluation, controlling of functional areas, CMA Certification for Professionals
  • Topic on Tour (controlling on the road)
  • For beginners (controlling for non-controllers)
  • Online Training (CAonAir Online Training)
  • Inhouse (Inhouse Training & Coaching)

To the offers overview of the CA controller akademie

The Haufe Academie, for example, has various offers in the fields

  • complete courses
  • basic knowledge
  • operative controlling
  • strategic controlling
  • specialized knowledge
  • social competences

To the offer guide of the Haufe Akademie

Horváth & Partners Management Consultants offers, for example, a "Extra - occipational Certificate Program for Business Controllers (EBS)" within the Horváth Academy.

To the Certificate of the Horváth-Akademie

Besides there are many controlling seminars (to the overview)

At the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) in Germany, some further training courses are offered with the degree "certified controller (IHK)". We recommend you to contact your local IHK directly (to the IHK Finder by location or zip code).

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medizincontrolling (DGfM) offers seminars in cooperation with the University of Heidelberg. You can find the current seminar program here. ICV members receive a discount of 35.00 EURO per seminar.

Correspondence studies or distance learning courses are also possible in the controlling area. Organizators are e.g.

Europäische Fernhochschule Hamburg

Fernakademie für Wirtschaft und Management

Hamburger Akademie für Fernstudien


Laudius Akademie für Fernstudien


How much does actually a controller earn? Salary and income

EXTRACT from KARRIERESPIEGEL from 16.07.2015: 

Factors influencing the salary

The salaries for controllers are actually at a high level. According to an analysis of the compensation portal, the telecommunication industry pays with an average of 71.300 EURO the highest salaries for controllers. This is followed by the aeronautics sector with 71.250 EURO, the pharmaceutical industry with 66.600 EURO and the chemical sector with 66.270 EURO. The average salary for all industries is around 59.500 EURO.

As a rule, controllers have graduated a degree in business administration. They must be able to think analytically and be familiar with bilance, accounting, business planning and budgeting; It is also helpful to know about reporting and information management. The Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Germany offers further training courses.

Already directly after graduation, graduates expect attractive wages. Beginners with one to three years of experience are happy to receive an average salary of 43.900 EURO. After three to six years as a controller, the salary increases to an average of 53.700 EURO and after six to nine years to 61.300 EURO. After nine years in the job the salary is 71.150 EURO - in the upper remuneration area even over 80.000 EURO.

Controller salaries - regionally comparisons

Large differences in salary are also evident when the company size is considered. According to this, controllers receive an average of 43.900 EURO in smaller companies (under 101 employees), 54.900 EURO in medium-sized companies (101 to 1000 employees) and 64.600 EURO in large companies or groups with more than 1001 employees.

Even bigger is the gap between controllers with personnel responsibility and those without. A head of department, which can manage up to 15 people, can earn around 140.000 EURO, one with responsibility for up to three employees comes to over 86.000 EURO. Employees without personnel responsibilities and thus without a managerial position receive on average 56.600 EURO.

In the comparison of regions in Germany, Hessen is the best with an average salary of 74.500 EURO. Baden-Württemberg is second with 72.250 EURO, followed by Bavaria (70.500 EURO), Hamburg (69.100 EURO) and North Rhine-Westphalia (67.750 EURO). The three closing places include Saxony (50.300 EURO), Saxony-Anhalt (49.100 EURO) and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (47.800 EURO).

A cost accountant or a controller?

Who knows the business better - cost accountant or controller? Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Jürgen Weber, Chairman of the ICV Board of Trustees and Director of WHU Institute for Management and Controlling - Otto Beisheim School of Management, Vallendar - has written an article for the Controller Magazin, issue 6/2018.

He takes a look back at the development of business administration, which has developed around the core topic of accounting. The merchants working there - including the cost accountants - enjoyed a good reputation. The decision-oriented cost accounting of the 1970s was an important factor in the development of business administration, away from the production-economic, but to the decision-oriented point of view.

Here are, says Weber, the beginnings of controlling. From investment controlling it extended to the corporate planning and thus to the operative rule management. The information base was always cost accounting. The result: Cost accountants became instrument specialists, whereas controllers, as the interface to management, became the contact persons of managers.

Professor Weber also explains in the article how controllers achieve the required "eye level" with the management. He also refers to his own studies. In it he stresses e.g. a cost accountant: "All my cost accountants know the business very well, we know the entire business processes better than the controllers...". In this context, Weber points out the warning that in the course of digitization transactional processes and thus an important field of learning are taken out of controlling. His conclusion: "So it could make sense for a controller to be more concerned with cost accounting again and to think of business partner not only in managers, but also in cost accountants!".

Read the article here [German]