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January 27, 2023

Compensation Watch ’19: Controllers

TPTB would like Adrienne and I to try to post an article each week that is compensation-related because, well, you guys like money and you guys like to read about how much money you could or should be making.

So now that Randstad just released its 2019 Salary Guide, and Robert Half and Accounting Principals released their 2019 salary projections at the end of last August, we’ll take a look at the earning potential this year for certain positions within accounting and finance. If there’s a job you want us to feature, email me and Adrienne and we’ll consider it.

Because today is Valentine’s Day, I’m showing controllers some love. Many of today’s corporate controllers began their careers toiling away in public accounting. And you don’t need to be a CPA to have a successful career as a controller. Plus, the position pays pretty well.


Randstad organizes executive titles by interquartile ranges across three levels of company revenue: small ($50 million), mid ($100 million), and large ($250 million or more). Here’s its 2019 salary projection for controllers:

  • Small: $126,730 – $226,511
  • Mid: $138,157 – $246,934
  • Large: $152,743 – $273,005

Robert Half

In their 2019 Accounting and Finance Salary Guide, Robert Half reported starting pay ranges by percentile, and there are four: 25th (newbies), 50th (average experience), 75th (above-average experience), and 95th (significant experience and expertise).

Salary figures represent the national averages. Bonuses, benefits, and other forms of compensation aren’t factored into the starting salary ranges, according to the guide.

Robert Half lists salary projections for corporate controller and controller in industry. Here’s its 2019 salary projection for both:

Corporate controller

  • 25th: $105,500
  • 50th: $173,750
  • 75th: $197,750
  • 95th: $262,750


  • 25th: $92,000
  • 50th: $118,250
  • 75th: $140,500
  • 95th: $207,750

Accounting Principals

Unlike Bob Half’s salary guide, Accounting Principals’ 2019 Salary Guide for Accounting & Finance Professionals features salaries and total cash compensation figures. The data in the guide is broken into three categories: average base salary by company size (small, medium, and large; base salary (low, high, and average); and total cash compensation (low, high, and average). Here’s its salary projections in each of the three categories:

Base salary by company size

  • Small: $133,589
  • Medium: $161,132
  • Large: $246,808

Base salary

  • Low: $125,602
  • High: $291,914
  • Average: $196,434

Total cash compensation

  • Low: $137,848
  • High: $411,633
  • Average: $238,236

So those of you who are controllers, look about right? Or are you shuffling to your boss’s office, with this data in hand, asking for a raise? Let us know what you think.

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