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Auditor Career Guide

What is an auditor?

An auditor is like a financial detective. They check a company’s or person’s financial records to make sure everything is correct and follows the rules. Think of them as people who help keep things honest and transparent in the money world.

Auditors can work inside a company (that’s called internal auditing), or they might be hired from outside (as external consultants). Their main job is to look things over carefully, spot any issues, and suggest how to fix them.

Duties and responsibilities

Auditors have a few key tasks. They go through financial statements to ensure accuracy and compliance with accounting rules (like GAAP or IFRS). They also check the company’s accounting methods, review transactions, and test if everything’s done right.

They also look at how well the company is guarding against risks or fraud. After they’ve done their checking, they write a report about what they found. For those working from outside the company, this report is really important for investors and regulators to know that the company is in good financial shape.

Work environment

Auditors work in lots of different places. Some are with big accounting firms (like Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG); others might be in corporations, government, or nonprofits.

Their job can involve traveling, especially for those who work as external auditors, since they need to visit companies to check their records and understand how they work. They spend a lot of time with financial documents and accounting software, so they need to be good at analyzing data and super careful with details.

Typical work hours

Usually, auditors work about 40 hours a week. But sometimes, like at the end of a financial year or during big audit projects, they might need to put in extra time, even on weekends, to meet deadlines.

Auditors in big public accounting firms often have a busy “audit season” where they work longer hours and might travel. However, those who work inside companies (internal auditors) usually have more regular hours, though they can also be busy during company reviews or inspections.

How to become an auditor

Becoming an auditor is like training to be a financial superhero. You’ll need education, some special skills, and a bit of experience. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Get a bachelor’s degree

First, after high school, go to college for a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or business. This four-year degree is a must-have for all auditors. Pick an accredited college and start working toward that degree.

Step 2: Learn more about auditing

While in college, you can take extra courses on auditing. Even better, there are cool online courses that can give you a deeper dive into what auditors do. Here are a few to check out:

Step 3: Get certified

Stand out from the crowd by getting certified. Here are two popular certifications:

  • Certified Internal Auditor (CIA): This is the top certification for internal auditors globally.
  • Certified Quality Auditor (CQA): This one shows you’re a pro in auditing and financial analysis.

Step 4: Maybe do a master’s degree

If you’re aiming for the big leagues quickly, think about a master’s degree. It’s not always necessary, but it can help for higher-level jobs.

Step 5: Start job hunting

Now, you’re ready to look for jobs. Use job sites to find opportunities in your preferred industries. Make sure your resume shines with all your courses and certifications.

How much do auditors make?

There are many variables that go into determining how much an auditor makes, from company size to experience to education, just to name a few.

Highest paying industries

  • Pipeline Transportation of Crude Oil: $123,230
  • Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing: $123,210
  • Other Information Services: $112,900
  • Securities and Financial Investments: $107,610
  • Federal Executive Branch: $107,170

Highest paying states

  • District of Columbia: $123,304
  • New York: $111,790
  • New Jersey: $105,950

Browse auditor salary data by market

Types of auditors

Internal auditor

Think of internal auditors as the guardians within a company. They make sure everyone’s following the rules and managing risks properly. They check if the company’s policies and processes are up to snuff and see if everything’s working as it should.

External auditor

External auditors are like independent judges. They don’t work for the company they’re checking. Their job is to give an unbiased look at a company’s financial statements and report their findings. It’s like getting a second opinion from someone who’s not part of the family.

Information systems auditor

These tech-savvy auditors focus on IT systems. They’re the ones who make sure a company’s technology is secure and won’t be easy prey for hackers. They help keep the digital side of a company safe and sound.

Tax auditor

You know how we all have to file taxes? Tax auditors are the ones who go through tax documents to make sure people and businesses are following tax laws. They’re the reason you want to be extra careful with your tax returns!

Compliance auditor

Some industries have a lot of specific rules. Compliance auditors are there to make sure companies play by these rules. They’re experts in laws, regulations, and policies, and they work to prevent risks and problems.

Forensic auditor

These are the sleuths of the auditing world. Forensic auditors work with law enforcement on cases like fraud and embezzlement. They’re involved in court cases and help solve crimes that involve financial wrongdoing.

Auditor career path

Start as an audit associate or junior auditor

Your journey begins here. Fresh out of college, you’ll start as an audit associate or junior auditor. Think of this as your apprenticeship, where you learn all the secrets of auditing under the watchful eyes of seasoned pros. You’ll get your hands dirty with internal and external audits, compliance checks, and digging into financial details.

Move up to senior auditor

After you’ve got some experience and maybe snagged a certification like Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), you can level up to a senior auditor. Now, you’re not just learning but leading projects and maybe a small team. You’re the one calling some of the shots and making sure everything ticks like a well-oiled machine.

Take charge as an audit manager

Next, you could become an audit manager or internal audit manager. You’re the boss now, planning and executing audit strategies. You’ll work closely with the company’s bigwigs and have a real say in how things are done.

Aim for the top

Dream big! As a director of audit, you’re a key player with an organization-wide impact, often chatting with the C-suite and board members. Some auditors go even higher from here, becoming Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) or starting their own consulting firms.

Specialized paths and beyond

Fancy being a crime-solver? Try becoming a forensic auditor, where you’ll unravel financial mysteries and fraud. Plus, your auditor superpowers can open doors to exciting fields like finance, risk management, or compliance. With your deep knowledge of how businesses tick, you’re set for a high-flying career in many areas.

Top skills for auditors

  • Analytical skills: Auditors dig into tons of data to spot mistakes or fishy numbers. A sharp, analytical mind helps them find things that others might miss and ensures that a company’s finances are actually showing the true picture.
  • Attention to detail: Overlooking even the tiniest error could lead to big problems like wrong financial statements or legal issues. It’s all about making sure every single dot and comma is in the right place.
  • Ethical judgment: Their work can seriously affect a company’s future and reputation. They need to be totally honest and fair, even when there’s pressure to bend the rules.
  • Communication skills: Sure, auditing is a lot about numbers, but being able to talk and write clearly is just as important. They need to explain their findings and advice in a way that everyone, from finance gurus to those who don’t know much about money, can understand. 
  • Regulatory knowledge: Each industry, like healthcare or banking, has its own set of rules. Auditors need to be experts in these regulations to ensure that the companies they’re checking are playing by the rules. 

  • Growing demand in the global business scene: Companies are getting bigger, sometimes joining forces with others, which means their financial records are becoming more complex. To keep everything in check, they’ll need more skilled auditors.
  • Automation and AI: Technology, especially automation and AI, is becoming a bigger part of auditing. AI is handling simpler tasks, which frees up human auditors to focus on the job’s more complex, high-skill parts. 

Employment projections for auditors

The job market for auditors is expected to grow by about 6% through 2031, keeping pace with other professions. This steady growth is partly because companies need to keep their financial records crystal clear, especially after recent financial mess-ups and scandals. Plus, with rules and tax laws always changing, companies will need those who can navigate these tricky waters.

Auditor career tips

Soft skills and traits

Auditors spend their workday analyzing information and compiling recommendations to improve the system. It’s important to have good analytical skills, and understanding the laws and structures allows you to assess the information properly. Critical thinking and a strong ethical conviction will also be helpful to your role.

Commonly required skills and qualifications

Auditor positions will all have different requirements for education and certifications. Having an understanding of the software programs used for finance is important. Project management experience will help these professionals view each assessment as a project, and you can report the information back appropriately to the stakeholders.

Develop a professional network

One of the best ways to grow your career is to network with others in your industry. Mentors are helpful to learn from and offer guidance. You can also join organized and established groups to network. Here are a few recommended options:

  • Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA)
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
  • Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA)
  • LinkedIn communities and groups
  • International Federation of Accountants

Where the auditor jobs are

Top companies

  • Deloitte
  • PwC
  • EY
  • Grant Thornton
  • KPMG

Top states

  • California
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Florida
  • Pennsylvania

Top job sites

  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • Dice
  • CareerBuilder
  • Accountingfly


What kind of job opportunities are available for auditors?

Most positions are in the financial sector, both internal and external. Some specialize in taxes as well. For auditing jobs that aren’t exclusively accounting-based, look for information technology auditing positions that work on networks, hardware, and software.

Do auditors make good money?

They have great pay potential in their career path. There are also many opportunities for continuing education to boost your paycheck throughout your career.

What qualifications do I need to become an auditor?

Aspiring auditors should have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Get a CPA, CIA, or another related certification to increase your job opportunities. Advanced degrees in business and finance may be required for some levels of auditing positions.

Is continuing education required for auditors?

Those who are part of a professional network or are CPAs will be required to complete at least 20 hours of qualifying continuing professional education every year. This will allow them to stay up-to-date and current with regulations, technology, and processes. 

Are there certifications required to become an auditor?

Each state has its own regulations depending on what kind of work you are doing. Those working for publicly traded companies must be CPAs and have a state license. Other positions may have their own specific certifications, so make sure to check the job posting for more information.

What are the most challenging things about being an auditor?

They face a lot of deadlines, so there may be some long work days nearing those dates. Finding issues in the system can also be stressful because you may have to report that information to people who will be on the defensive. Staying objective is important but can be challenging.

What are the most important skills for anyone wanting to become an auditor?

The most important skills are critical thinking and the ability to be analytical and unbiased in any situation. Strong communication and good time and task management skills will also be helpful.

Which organizations and industries hire auditors?

They are utilized in government organizations and corporate environments. Typically, the roles are in the financial space, but some work in inventory and information technology as well.

Do all auditors need to understand accounting principles?

Those working on any part of an organization’s financial system will need a strong understanding of accounting principles and processes. To dive into a company’s records and assess, you’ll need to understand the desired outcome to compare it to the current setup.