How to Become a State Comptroller

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State governments are very complex and include sophisticated accounting departments. State comptrollers are highly trained accounting professionals that keep track of the state government’s finances.


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What does a state comptroller do?

State comptrollers are the chief accountants of state governments that are responsible for organizing, planning, and reporting financial activities. They oversee expenditures and income and keep track of all outgoing and incoming money. They track accounts payable and accounts receivable and note any discrepancies. They also maintain budgets and set financial policies. They plan budgets for a variety of departments within the state such as the sanitation, construction, and public works departments. State comptrollers are often responsible for managing the accounting, bookkeeping, and auditing departments. They typically lead auditing tasks and present the final report to government officials. They also prepare the necessary financial reports such as balance sheets, income statements, and tax forms. State comptrollers may also explain the financial policies to other employees or state residents.

What kind of training does a state comptroller need?

State comptrollers typically need at least a bachelor degree in accounting, finance, or other related field. Many state comptrollers have a master degree in business administration with focus on accounting. Prospective state comptrollers typically complete courses in state government, cost and budget accounting, statistics, and business management. Many aspiring state comptrollers complete internships to gain practical experience in the field. Some state comptrollers begin their careers in entry-level accounting positions and move up to comptroller positions as they gain the necessary skills and experience. Some state comptrollers have the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation. State comptrollers often complete continuing education and additional training throughout their careers to keep their skills up to date and stay abreast with government changes.

What are the prospects for a career as a state comptroller?

Employment of state comptrollers is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 8% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growing population and the expansion of state governments will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be good with keen competition due to the high status of state government positions. State comptrollers with extensive experience will have the best job opportunities.

How much do state comptrollers make?

As of February 2010, state comptrollers with less than 1 year experience earn average annual salaries between $29,283 and $76,500. Those with 1 to 4 years experience earn average annual salaries between $35,841 and $59,032 (2).

A career as a state comptroller is a great choice for individuals with a strong interest in state government and accounting and finance. State comptrollers must have a solid understanding of the concepts and principles of accounting and be able to apply them to state government tasks. Patience, detail orientation, critical thinking, and good problem solving skills are essential characteristics. State comptrollers must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to interact with a wide variety of people.

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