A document controller's primary role is in maintaining, overseeing and keeping up-to-date records – digital, hard copy or both – for companies throughout a broad range of industries.
The controller is in charge of workflow, including letting a person or group of people know that action needs to be performed on a file to complete a process. Recordkeeping may be needed for internal systems and external clients as well as regulatory and legal compliance, depending on the industry. Many companies use electronic document management systems to track digital documents. EDMS software acts as a digital file cabinet that allows for quick sorting and retrieval of digital "paperwork." The software works hand-in-hand with scanners that convert paper documents.
Day-to-day responsibilities are focused on the control and tracking of documents. Specifically, you'll number documents and input technical revisions, perform compliance checking, filing and organizing, documentation auditing, and report on document status and distribute documents as required.
Qualities that successful DCs possess include meticulous attention to detail, excellent communication skills and the ability to work independently as well as on a team. Familiarity or proficiency in MS Word and Excel software is often required. Exposure to project management skills is also a plus for employers.
Document controllers need not have a college degree, although one may be preferred by some employers. A lot of DCs learn their craft right on the job from entry-level positions on up. Often, they are recruited within an organization from other administrative positions. Training courses and professional certification in the field are available and may be helpful if you're looking for your first job or for career advancement.
One industry where document controllers are needed is construction, where you'll manage document flow for various small- and large-scale projects. Other industries include engineering, oil and gas, metals mining, banking, government and healthcare systems. As a document controller in construction and technical fields, you'll usually report to a project manager, while elsewhere you'll typically work for a department head.
Experience and Salary
Typical salaries for document controllers range from $25,000 to $66,000, depending on experience, according to PayScale.com. The average hourly rate is about $17 dollars. Salaries can range a great deal, however, depending upon location and type of industry.
Within most industries, the job outlook is considered to be "good" – or at least on par with the national average, reports PayScale.com. In healthcare, the outlook for records management is projected to grow 13 percent until 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Experience with EDMS can help your career trajectory move upward. Senior positions in document control include being a team leader/supervisor and manager. Tasks will get progressively more complex: setting objectives, monitoring performance and progress, determining workload, as well as supervising document control clerks and administrative staff. Document controller experience can also be a springboard to quality assurance management and technical writing positions.