Amtec Hiring Guides

How to Hire Controllers in San Francisco

Amtec Hiring Guides

How to Hire Controllers in San Francisco

Current Environment

Hiring a controller is an important strategic decision. According to Forbes, “controllers keep the company’s financial planning, debt financing, and budget management organized.”

The controller position is a high-profile position. To fulfill the role’s responsibilities, the controller often spends time with employees to find ground-level details in processes and operations that could help optimize the business. Being a very critical role, the eligibility standards for being a controller are very high.

The controller typically reports to the CFO; the roles differ mainly based on perspective, in addition to hierarchical reporting structure. The controller is mainly focused on compliance and historical record-keeping—in other words, their focus is on tactics. Controllers help the CFO plan for the future by way of reporting on performance, past and present.


The history of the field of finance and the recording and management of financial activities dates back to the dawn of civilization. While fiance has roots in scientific fields, such as statistics, economics, and mathematics, it also includes some non-scientific elements that liken it to art.

As the complexity of financial instruments, transactions, stock markets, reporting requirements, and regulation has increased, the need for specialized roles in finance, including the position of controller, has grown.

Will COVID-19 Affect the finance Field?

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected employment and the job market, however, the role of the controller has become increasingly important for companies as they look to recover from the economic challenges experienced in the past year. A controller’s focus on financial analysis of past performance in economic downturns will help identify strategies and tactics to help companies recover.

2021 has seen a mix of responses as economies start to open up once again now that the distribution of the vaccine has increased. There is much to be hopeful about. The role of the controller will play a crucial role in helping economies – big and small – to recover and prepare for the future. 

In fact, with the right talent, preparation and insights, controllers can successfully navigate their company through a crisis—and emerge stronger.

How will Recruiting controllers Help Your Company?

How will Hiring controllers Help Your Company?

The fact that a company is considering the hiring of a controller is a good sign as it shows that revenue is up and the organization’s financial matrices are sophisticated enough to need a high-level money manager.

Hiring a competent controller will literally change your company for the better. A controller is not a bookkeeper or accounting manager, though he or she knows how to do the work required for both roles. Beyond these roles, a controller owns the accounting system of an organization and is responsible for every data point.

The controller knows every number going through an organization’s accounting system and will take ownership of everything on the financial statements. They will know why some expenses increased and why some fell. They know if something’s gone missing. The controller will be part of every big decision because these decisions affect the company’s financial statements. Controllers will impact the organization simply by being all about the numbers – controllers love numbers!

controller Details


Controllers keep the company’s financial planning, debt financing and budget management organized. They set financial rules, including choosing accounting methods and making sure that generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) are followed. Team members in this role are generally responsible for motivating their teams, and ensuring the team produces quality work within set time periods.

Before we get to exactly how to recruit the best controller in San Francisco, here are some of the responsibilities of the job.

  • Monitoring the organization’s overall financial health
  • Managing the finance team
  • Collecting and compiling financial information
  • Establishing corporate bank accounts and credit cards
  • Liaising with certified public accountants (CPAs) outside the organization
  • Developing, implementing, and maintaining internal financial controls
  • Monitoring financial transactions and transaction processing
  • Maintaining the general ledger and providing oversight for company balance sheets
  • Invoice approval
  • Preparing and filing tax returns
  • Preparing forecasts and budgets
  • Overseeing the preparation of monthly, quarterly, and year-end financial statements
  • Overseeing financial reporting

Looking for another position? View other positions we place in San Francisco, California.


Most positions require a Bachelor’s degree, and some require additional credentials, such as a CPA, CFA, and/or an MBA and significant experience in the financial industry (5+ years). Some may be able to use their years of experience to replace the degree requirement. While candidates can complete a degree in Business Administration, Public Administration, Finance, or Accounting, a wide variety of degrees may qualify someone for the role, depending on their previous experience. 

Top Schools – According to US News & World Report rankings.

Top Schools

  • University of Texas at Austin

  • BYU-Provo

  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Salary Range

controllers in the U.S.


Total controllers Employed in the U.S.





controller Salary Comparison


In a role that already requires substantial education and both financial and technical acumen, financial controllers are now moving toward executive-level responsibilities; the modern controller will come to be regarded as an essential part of the senior management team.

Given the importance of the controller role, candidates can and should expect to be well compensated for the high levels of responsibility that accompany the job. As long as companies spend and receive money, there will continue to be a place for the controller, especially in mid-large-size organizations.

For more detailed compensation information for a controller in [city-name], download our free compensation/salary report below.


The average annual salary for controllers in California was 157k in 2019. The hourly wage averaged $75.24.

For more detailed compensation information for controllers in San Francisco, download our free compensation/salary report below.

Working in San Francisco

Do controllers find the beautiful seaside city of San Francisco a good place to live and work? Most people say yes, although some of that is based on good-paying, steady employment. Those with high-paying jobs love the city, and those without struggle financially with the high cost of living.

As the de facto national hub of tech and innovation, jobs in these fields are highly valued and in demand. Companies regularly entice the best candidates with the lure of living in this picturesque and diverse city, and for those top-notch candidates, the salaries are some of the heftiest in the U.S.

Here are a few first-hand comments about the pros and cons of living and working in the City by the Bay.


    • Tech leadership: From startups to established industry leaders,  like Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Salesforce, the city attracts world-class business, capital, and talent from all over the world.
    • 350,000 tech jobs. Between San Francisco and its close neighbor San Jose, 200,000 digital services jobs have been added since 2010, concentrating 11% of the nation’s digital services employment, equalling nearly 350,000 of the nation’s 3.1 million total tech jobs, according to Brookings Institution research.
    • Dog culture. If you have a special, four-legged friend, you will love San Francisco. From dog parks to dog hotels and even dog-friendly workplaces, accommodations for your furry friend are everywhere.
    • Ethnic diversity. A minority-majority city, it boasts an ethnically diverse population and celebrates the culture and history of Chinese-Americans, Latinos, Italians, and more. The LGBTQ+ community is a driving force of this community, and its members and supporters are loud and proud.
    • Beauty and history. The cityscape of San Franciso and its surrounding communities is magnificent, from the spectacular Golden Gate Bridge, and historic Fisherman’s Warf, and so many cultural attractions, it’s a great place to spend time.

However, living in this urban paradise comes at a price. The con that stands out the most for San Francisco’s current and wanna-be residents is housing costs, and a few more.


    • Housing: It’s one of the most expensive areas in the world to live. It has a staggering average monthly rent of $3,111. The median home value is a staggering more than $1.3M.
    • The homelessness crisis. San Francisco’s homeless problem is also more visible than it is in other cities and an especially stark contrast with the wealth in the city.
    • Not great for kids. San Francisco, population 865,000, has roughly the same number of dogs as children: 120,000.
    • Weather. Although this is not a con for all, the city is notoriously foggy, creating what some consider bone-chilling cold in the winter.

Current Weather

Not your city? View other cities where we place controllers.

Demand for controllers in San Francisco

Demand for controllers in San Francisco

While the controller’s duties will continue to include accounting oversight, forecasting, and streamlining accounting operations, it will also include business administration, financial planning, and leveraging technology innovations to manage risk and generate value. This makes it an essential hire for many, if not most companies, which is why the BLS projects there will be a higher than average level of growth for the hiring of controllers in the next 10 years.

According to the BLS, the employment of financial managers is projected to grow 15% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the 4% average for all occupations. However, growth will vary by industry.

The supply of candidates and demand for open positions have a direct correlation to a company's ability to hire. Download a free Supply and Demand report for controllers in San Francisco, California below.

How to Hire the Best controllers

Finding and hiring the best controller candidates can save you money right away and well into the future.

The costs of making a bad hire are well documented. The cost can run as much as 30% of the employee's first-year earnings according to the US Department of Labor. Bad hires can cost a whopping $240,000 in expenses related to hiring, compensation, and retention per The Undercover Recruiter. 74% of companies who admit they've hired the wrong person for a position lost an average of $14,900 for each bad hire according to CareerBuilder. These statistics support our long-held position that behavioral questions are the best way to get to know your candidates and past behavior is the best indicator of future performance.

Recruiting Best Practices

The information below comes from the best practices Amtec uses for finding the highest quality candidates.

Defining the Position

When defining the role you are creating, we recommend a position profile to fully evaluate the position you are hiring for. You must decide if the engineer can work remotely or must work in California. If working in San Francisco is essential, make sure you include that in your job posting so candidates can decide how many miles they can commute.

How to Source the Best Candidates

When you are looking to source the best quality candidates for your open positions, make sure you have done the legwork to hire an "A Player". You can do this by making sure your company's perspective is aligned with the current market, you have taken into account the job responsibilities, as well as what type of characteristics you are looking for to fit your company culture. Then proceed to write a job posting to attract high-quality candidates.

Characteristics of controllers

You’ll know that it’s time to hire a company controller when a bookkeeper and a once-a-year tax accountant are no longer going to cut it.  That’s when you need a financial partner who’s helping you look after your company’s money. Your money. When you find that right person, you’ll happily pay them what they’re worth.

There are many highly qualified finance professionals on the job market due to layoffs that occurred in the early months of the pandemic, thus making the hiring outlook for finance professionals quite strong. With a move to remote work, companies are now allowed to cast a wider geographic net, should they have remote work policies in play.

For more detailed compensation information for controllers in [city-name], download our free compensation/salary report below.

How to Screen Candidates

You wrote a job posting, posted the position online, and received a lot more resumes than you’d bargained for! Next comes the enormous task of sorting through those resumes to eliminate the ones that are clearly not a good fit. Now, you have a stack of resumes for candidates who have potential. So how do you go about screening the remaining candidates?

It starts on the phone! As a recruiter, the goal of your telephone screening is to learn more about your candidates. You can confirm that they have the educational qualifications and relevant experience, but you also need to determine if they would fit into your company's culture. To make this job easier, use a system to consistently evaluate results. This way you can equally and objectively compare candidates and evaluate their "soft skills", like communication and thinking process. Download Amtec's Professional Assessment Questionnaire below to help with screening candidates.

Free Professional Assessment Questionnaire

An individually customized questionnaire that helps assess a candidate's competence with written communication skills, thinking processes, and other relevant skills.

How to Interview Candidates

At Amtec, we believe in the power of behavoral interview questions to go beyond the experience and skills listed on the candidate's resume. Although you will want to confirm in the interview that the candidate does indeed have the experience listed on their resume, your assessment needs to go much deeper than that. An interview using behavioral questions can help you determine how well the candidate will fit with your company culture.

Download Amtec's best practices on conducting super effective interviews to find the best candidates and fill your open jobs.

Behavioral Interview Guide

Get the info you need to hire the best controllers

Free Interview Guide