what is a project controller?

As a project controller, you work with project managers to ensure each project runs smoothly. Once you understand the goals of a project, you determine a financial plan and schedule and monitor them throughout the duration.

If a project deviates from the initial plan, you provide guidance about getting it back on track. It's primarily an advisory role yet an essential one, which helps ensure both scheduling and finances go as anticipated.

As a project controller, you work in a range of industries, and it’s typically advisable to have some knowledge about the industry in which you’re involved. For instance, if you’re working in construction, knowledge about that industry and how it operates is recommended. If you work in information technology (IT), you should understand how the IT industry operates to provide the best advice.

Although being a project controller is an advisory role, you require a range of skills to perform diverse tasks. Finance knowledge is vital, and you should also know how to use various computer programs that allow you to track and monitor the finances or schedules of the project. Your job also requires you to complete budgets and reports. Clear written and verbal communication is necessary, as these skills enable you to properly express your findings.

Would working as a project controller suit your financial knowledge and project management skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a project controller role.

project controller jobs

average project controller salary

According to Job Bank, the average salary of a project controller in Canada is $121,783 per year. That translates to an hourly rate of $62.45. If you are new to the role, you start with a lower salary of $100,000 per year. However, your earnings increase gradually, and you can take home over $126,200 per year.

what factors affect the salary of a project controller?

As a project controller, your earnings fluctuate based on your qualifications and other external factors, such as the company and industry you work in. When you have a few years of experience, you earn a lower salary. As you build your experience and improve your qualifications, you can negotiate a higher salary.

The industry you work in influences your earnings. For instance, working in construction companies improves your salary due to the complexity of the projects and the large budgets. IT project controllers also take home higher salaries since they work in high-revenue companies.

The size of the company also determines your earnings. When you work in a small company, you handle smaller projects that require minimal expertise. In a large company, you work on significant projects. Besides, the additional resources improve your earning prospects.

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types of project controllers

Project controllers can specialize in different business sectors, including:

  • construction project controllers: as a construction project controller, you work with construction project managers to manage resources in construction projects. You monitor financial resources and keep track of expenses to ensure projects stick to the budget.
  • IT project controllers: as an IT project controller, you work in IT companies, assisting with budgeting and monitoring project costs. You prepare financial reports and recommend cost management solutions for projects.
  • marketing project controller: you work with marketing teams to plan and execute marketing campaigns. Your job is to create budgets and monitor the costs associated with budgets.
woman smiling
woman smiling

working as a project controller

Working as a project controller is a challenging and rewarding career. Each project is different, allowing for versatility in many capacities from one project to the next. Read on to learn what you can expect when you work in this field.


project controller skills and education

Some of the educational requirements for becoming a project controller include:

  • bachelor’s degree: to become a project controller, you require a related university degree. Pursue a bachelor's degree in a finance-related field, such as business administration, economics or finance. To work in some industries, you require industry expertise. For instance, to work in construction or IT, you need some knowledge of construction or information technology.
  • work experience: you require work experience to start your career as a project controller. Gain experience through entry-level positions in accounting or finance. Despite working on projects, you specialize in cost management and finances. You require accounting or professional finance designations, such as Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), Certified Internal Auditor or Certified Management Accountant (CMA).

competencies and characteristics of project controllers

Some of the qualities and skills required for project controllers include:

  • communication skills: as a project controller, you work and collaborate with various professionals. You require good communication skills to interact with other workers. Good communication skills also help you explain complex project aspects in simple terms.
  • team management skills: as a project controller, you work with a team of accountants and finance assistants. You require team management skills to align the individual tasks of the team with the company goals. You evaluate performance, mediate conflicts and delegate tasks effectively. Good team management skills help you coach workers and improve the skills of team members.
  • organization skills: as a project controller, you have numerous tasks and responsibilities. Your organizational skills help you ensure smooth operation by breaking down complex tasks and prioritizing work.
  • cost control: as a project controller, your primary role is to control the costs of a project. Your knowledge of cost control helps you prepare budgets and maintain the expenses of the company.


Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a project controller.


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