What is an auditor?
Do you have a head for numbers and an eye for details? Do you enjoy finding and solving problems creatively? An auditor position might be an excellent fit for your talents. Auditors are vital in inspecting an organization’s accounting, financial, and operational data to determine if it follows accounting principles. Auditors also identify and, at times, solve issues that may exist.
The heart of the auditor’s role is to use accepted accounting and statistical procedures in reviewing reports and financial statements, cash on hand, checks, notes receivable and payable, and more to evaluate a company’s transactions and numbers. Auditors need to wear many hats when reviewing company financials, and candidates who excel must have excellent attention to detail and multitasking skills.
Auditors will be responsible for auditing data, employees, and clients to achieve financial accuracy in the reporting and overview of data and accounting. The auditor must oftentimes provide documents for the required employees, including balance sheets and audit statements. Auditors are also responsible for keeping track of a company’s spending and providing a report on this to improve the overall efficiency of the company.
Duties and responsibilities
The roles and responsibilities of auditors vary greatly based on their position, organization, and industry. One common task is inspecting account books and systems to ensure efficiency, effectiveness, and use of accepted accounting procedures to record transactions. Auditors evaluate financial and information systems and help recommend controls to ensure system reliability and data integrity.
Auditors prepare, analyze, and verify annual reports, financial statements, and other records, using accepted accounting and statistical methods to assess the condition and help with financial planning. In finance, auditors may also inspect cash on hand, receivables and payables, and any canceled checks to confirm accuracy.
Another common responsibility for auditors is reviewing taxpayer accounts and conducting audits on-site by correspondence or summoning taxpayers to their office to do a deeper dive. They may also examine inventory to verify journal and ledger entries.
Auditors typically work in an office setting but may work remotely from home part-time. Depending on the projects, there may be some travel for onsite audits. You’ll need to be comfortable spending many hours sitting at a desk and working on a computer.
Typical work hours
The typical work hours for an auditor will be from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, in an office setting. However, longer or different hours may be necessary. For example, overtime hours may be required at certain times of the year, like the end of a company’s budget year or during tax season.
How to become an auditor
In order to become an auditor, you will need a combination of education, training, and experience. In this career guide section, we cover the steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goal:
Step 1: Earn a bachelor’s degree
After high school, earn your bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or business. All auditing jobs will require at least a four-year degree, so find an accredited college or university and start working for your degree before starting your job search.
Step 2: Take additional courses specific to auditing
You’ll have access to many courses through your college experience, but great online resources are available if you want to dive deeper into auditing roles before applying for a job. Here are a few courses that we recommend for an auditor position:
- Fundamentals of Audit – A Crash Course from Udemy can provide a strong foundation in all the basics. Work through case studies and learn about the scope of the position. You’ll be able to distinguish the difference between auditing and investigation and learn about the types of auditor positions available.
- Coursera offers a pair of classes that are beneficial as well. Auditing 1: Conceptual Foundations of Auditing and Auditing 2: The Practice of Auditing are perfectly paired to provide a fantastic overview of auditing. Learn the concepts and applications auditors use to assess, evaluate, and manage audit risks and evidence.
- Receive one-on-one instruction and learn to become a pro internal auditor with the Lead Auditor Tools for a Professional Internal Audit course from Udemy. Get the tools you’ll need to prepare questions, learn how to document throughout the process, and properly handle the feedback on your reporting.
- Data is essential to auditors. Take the Introduction to Data Analytics for Accounting Professionals course from Coursera to better understand the foundations of data analytics and how they apply to organizations. Ensure you have a data-driven mindset and the technical knowledge to understand data.
Step 3: Obtain professional certification
Earning certifications can help you stand apart from other candidates. There a quite a few available, but here are two well-known options:
- Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) – The Certified Internal Auditor certification remains the only globally recognized certification for an internal auditor. As a result, having this certification can be immensely beneficial for an auditor who wants to either work in the internal field or prove their competency in multiple fields.
- Certified Quality Auditor (CQA) – The Certified Quality Auditor certification indicates a professional who understands the basics and advanced aspects of auditing, financial analysis, and other requirements for the auditor position. This certification program is verified and endorsed by the NCCA, which means it is widely recognized and beneficial for auditors.
Step 4: Consider earning a master’s degree
If you want to move quickly into a higher-level auditor position, consider applying for a master’s program. Some positions require additional education, and you can get a head start or even work on it while gaining experience with entry-level positions.
Step 5: Seek out job opportunities
Once you are ready to apply for jobs and interview, check the common job listing sites for companies and industries you’re interested in. Put together your resume and include all additional coursework and certifications you have to help yours stand out.
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. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top-paying places of employment and specific industries for auditors are (shown in annual mean salary):
- 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
The top-paying states for auditors to work in are (shown in annual mean salary):
- District of Columbia – $110,240
- New York – $105,790
- New Jersey – $97,950
The average national salary for an auditor is:
Types of auditors
Large organizations often have their own internal audit department. This team is responsible for risk management and verifying that the companies’ policies and processes are being followed. The controls and compliance procedures must be evaluated, and internal auditors will handle those evaluations.
External auditors are independent of organizations and are hired to come in and evaluate the company with an unbiased and outsider perspective. These auditors will review financial statements and report back to clients.
Information systems auditor
Organizations utilize information systems auditors for evaluating information technology systems and controls. This role is essential for security and reliability because it will ensure that the network is secure and the company won’t fall prey to hackers and other technical issues that could impact productivity.
Everyone files taxes, and you’ve probably seen information about your audit risk. On the other side are the auditors that review tax documents and numbers to ensure people follow the tax laws and regulations.
Many industries face a collection of laws and regulations specific to the type of work they do. It’s important that everything is followed, and compliance auditors help to ensure that. This role is aware of all the relevant laws, regulations, and policies while developing strategies to reduce the risks.
A small number of auditors work in forensics and partner with law enforcement agencies to help solve cases like fraud and embezzlement. This role will provide information for court cases and assist in active investigations that require a deep dive into cases.
The career path for an auditor varies greatly on the industry and size of the organization. Typically, your career begins with an entry-level position with the opportunity to advance to a senior auditor position. After that, you can enter management roles and continue on to director positions. The CFO, chief financial officer, is typically the highest position for this career path.
Top skills for auditors
Aspiring auditors need strong analytical skills and attention to detail to do their job. Reviewing the data, identifying patterns, and looking for issues in processes, statements, and transactions will utilize analytical skills. Critical thinking and problem-solving will assist them in working through the information and watching for problems or questionable information.
Ethics are important for auditors because you must remain objective and unbiased when performing your job. Other important skills include strong communication skills, project and risk management understanding, and proficiency in accounting software.
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Position trends and outlook
Demand for auditors and accountants should increase as the global business grows. Companies will continue to grow and merge, requiring qualified auditors to review increasingly complicated financial records.
Also, according to Surgent Professional Education, automation and AI are growing in the auditing sector. Rather than this technology replacing humans, AI will excel at performing lower-risk, and lower-skill functions, allowing humans to focus on higher-skill-level areas of the auditing process.
Employment projections for auditors
The job outlook for auditors is expected to increase by 6% over the next decade. This is as fast as average compared to other occupations.
Auditor career tips
Soft skills and traits for auditors
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 auditors 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 as an auditor 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 jobs are
- Grant Thornton
- New York
- Accounting and finance
What kind of job opportunities are available for auditors?
Most auditor positions are in the financial sector, both internal and external. There are auditors that 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?
Auditors have great pay potential in their career path. There are so many opportunities for continuing education to boost your paycheck throughout your career. The average salary for an auditor in the United States is around $93,000.
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?
Auditors 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 for auditors depending on what kind of work you are doing. Auditors working for publicly traded companies must be CPAs and have a state license. Other auditing 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?
Auditors 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 for an auditor 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?
Auditors are utilized in government organizations and corporate environments. Typically the roles are in the financial space, but there are auditors that work in inventory and information technology as well.
Do all auditors need to understand accounting principles?
Auditors working on any part of an organization’s financial system will need a strong understanding of accounting principles and processes. In order to dive into a company’s records and assess, you’ll need to understand the desired outcome to compare it to the current set up.