Job Description of a Controller in Construction


A construction controller oversees all financial accounting and reporting activities for a short-term infrastructure initiative or a long-term project. He generally applies business acumen and accounting expertise to ensure that a construction project's financial data conforms to U.S. generally accepted accounting procedures, or GAAP, and international financial reporting standards, or IFRS.

Nature of the Work

  • A construction controller establishes and monitors internal controls and procedures that employees must follow when performing their tasks. She usually ensures these procedures are adequate, functional and adhere to industry practices, government laws, top management's recommendations and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules. A construction also records all transactions related to an infrastructure and performs variance analysis to detect differences between actual costs and planned costs.

Education and Training

  • A bachelor's degree in a finance-related field is usually necessary for a construction controller position, but most employers prefer a job candidate with an advanced degree, such as master's or doctorate, in financial accounting, auditing, financial management or cost accounting. A senior construction controller with significant managerial duties often has prior public accounting experience and holds a certified public accountant (CPA) license.


  • A construction controller's total compensation depends on the industry, the company's size and economic trends. Other personal factors, such as seniority, length of service, academic credentials and professional certifications, also affect salary levels. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), senior construction accountants earned median wages of $59,430 in 2008, excluding annual stock and cash bonuses, with the bottom 10 percent of the profession earning less than $36,720 and the top 10 percent earning more than $102,380. BLS also indicates that median annual wages for construction managers were $99,330 in 2008, excluding annual stock and cash bonuses, with the middle 50 percent of the occupation earning from $72,030 to $135,070.

Career Development

  • A construction controller can increase her opportunities for advancement by performing adequately and attending continuing professional education courses. She also can seek a professional designation such as CPA or certified management accountant (CMA) to improve her career growth opportunities. Within a few years, a proficient and apt construction controller can move to a higher role, such as project financial director, corporate accounting manager or department controller.

Working Conditions

  • A construction controller's working hours are flexible and depend on business conditions. He spends long hours on a project's site, especially at the early stages. He also may work late nights, early mornings or on weekends to evaluate the project's progress and cost levels. A junior construction controller may have a standard 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. work schedule.

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  • Photo Credit Hard working construction worker at a construction scene. image by Andy Dean from
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