What is an IT auditor?
An information technology (IT) auditor is a specialized professional who plays a significant role in modern business operations. As businesses heavily rely on IT systems for their operations, it becomes imperative that these systems remain efficient, secure, and compliant, and that’s where IT auditors come in. They focus on evaluating, monitoring, and improving IT infrastructure and systems.
In nearly every industry, these professionals evaluate the integrity, reliability, and security of data and IT systems. Their expertise allows them to assess whether the current systems or new implementations align with the company’s business needs while minimizing risks. They contribute heavily to the operational efficiency, financial strength, and regulatory compliance of the companies they work for.
Duties and responsibilities
IT auditors are responsible for monitoring the internal controls, data integrity, and operational efficiency of a company’s IT systems. They review IT policies and procedures, determine risks, and suggest ways to improve security and operation efficiency. They also conduct in-depth audits to analyze and test the IT infrastructure to ensure it abides by the organization’s procedures and the industry’s regulatory standards.
Their responsibility also extends to conducting systemic process analysis to identify vulnerabilities, inefficiencies, and non-compliance issues. After audits, they prepare detailed reports outlining their findings, offering recommendations, and sometimes overseeing the implementation of their suggestions. These professionals must effectively communicate their insights to non-technical managers and executives and assist them in understanding the implications of audit results.
Most IT auditors work in a corporate office, either as part of a company’s internal team or for an external consulting or auditing firm. The setting can be fast-paced, often involving concurrent projects and tight deadlines. They may work in teams, interacting with diverse business functions, data analysts, IT specialists, and executives. While desk work constitutes a significant portion, on-site examinations and occasional travel for audits may be required.
Typical work hours
IT auditors typically operate during standard business hours, Monday through Friday. However, there may be instances where additional hours are required to meet audit deadlines or to handle issues arising from system failures or security breaches. Their workload can be hefty, particularly during the year-end fiscal period and when preparation for compliance audits is due.
Given the nature of IT systems and the critical importance of data security, some auditors may be on-call for emergencies. With technology advancements, remote work has become more prevalent, and many professionals may have the flexibility to work from virtually anywhere, contingent on their employer’s policies.
How to become an IT auditor
This career guide section outlines the process of becoming an IT auditor. Key steps include acquiring foundational education, experience, relevant certifications, and progressing professionally into the role.
Step 1: Attain a bachelor’s degree
Typically, a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as information systems, accounting, or computer science, is required. These degrees provide the basic knowledge and understanding needed to start a career in IT auditing.
Step 2: Gain practical experience
After graduation, gaining professional experience is essential, usually in entry-level positions like an associate auditor or IT support specialist. This will allow you to apply the theories and principles learned during your degree in a practical setting.
Step 3: Consider a postgraduate degree
While this step is not mandatory, obtaining a master’s degree in information systems or a related field can improve job prospects. It’s especially beneficial if you aspire to leadership roles. It provides a deeper understanding of the field and signals your dedication to the profession.
Step 4: Acquire certifications
Certifications play a significant role in the IT auditing field. They display specialized skills and a desire for professional development. Common certifications include Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), and Certified Internal Auditor (CIA). These certifications are usually obtainable through work experience, education, and passing an exam.
Step 5: Apply for jobs
Finally, after gaining considerable experience and the necessary certifications, you can apply for IT auditor roles. During the application process, focus on demonstrating your professional experience, IT auditing knowledge, and ability to resolve potential risks and vulnerabilities.
How much do IT auditors make?
IT auditor salaries will vary by experience, industry, education, location, and organization size. Technical knowledge of diverse IT systems and network environments can also significantly influence compensation.
Highest paying industries
- Finance and Insurance – $94,250
- Information Technology – $93,450
- Management of Companies and Enterprises – $89,690
- Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services – $88,100
- Healthcare and Social Assistance – $87,500
Highest paying states
- New York – $98,560
- California – $96,780
- Virginia – $93,240
- Massachusetts – $90,620
- New Jersey – $89,130
Types of IT auditors
In this career guide section, we will explore the different types of IT auditors, shedding light on their unique responsibilities and areas of focus.
Internal IT auditor
Individuals in this role are responsible for in-house evaluation and investigation of the organization’s technology infrastructure and practices. They ensure that all IT procedures follow established standards and regulations and that data integrity is maintained. Risk management and internal controls practices typically frame this role.
External IT auditor
In contrast to an internal IT auditor, these professionals focus on performing independent evaluations of a client’s IT systems. They assess the client’s technology platforms for any risks and compliance issues. Assurance and advisory are key facets of their role.
IT compliance auditor
The role of an IT compliance auditor revolves around assessing whether the organization’s IT policies adhere to relevant laws, regulations, and standards. They monitor and check that the necessary rules are being followed, holding a responsibility to mitigate risk and ensure that the organization is operating legally and ethically.
Information systems security auditor
The primary task for these professionals is to safeguard information systems from potential cyber threats. They conduct regular security checks, execute system audits, and manage risk assessments for the organization’s technology infrastructure. Creating strategic solutions to nullify or reduce potential cyber threats is a fundamental aspect of this role.
Top skills for IT auditors
This section outlines the primary skills and traits needed for career success as an IT auditor. The following descriptions provide insights into the abilities anyone aspiring to this role should focus on developing.
Being able to assess processes accurately is the core of any IT auditor’s duties. They must understand how different pieces of an IT system interact, be able to identify potential vulnerabilities or issues, and evaluate the potential impacts.
The ability to express technical information clearly and concisely to non-technical stakeholders is paramount in this profession. Auditors often have to document their findings and present them to management or other stakeholders. They must also clearly communicate complex data and be able to negotiate and influence others, if necessary, to implement their recommendations. Good written and verbal communication skills and a certain level of diplomacy are also necessary.
Analyzing complex systems, processes, and data is a daily part of the job, requiring a strong analytical mind to cut through the noise to identify trends, patterns, or discrepancies and evaluate their implications on the organization’s technology.
Knowledge of regulations and standards
An understanding of relevant industry regulations and standards is essential to evaluate whether an organization complies with local, regional, or global regulations and industry-specific standards. Auditors must always be up-to-date with the latest changes and understand how to apply them to an organization’s IT infrastructure.
When potential issues are identified, they must be able to think critically and develop effective solutions – from improving processes to recommending entirely new systems. Possessing excellent problem-solving skills ensures that all potential problems are addressed and remedied appropriately and efficiently.
IT auditor career path options
If you’re currently working as an IT auditor, many career options are available. Over time, you can leverage your skills to advance your professional journey and achieve greater career heights.
Senior IT auditor
One of the first steps on your career ladder might be to become a senior auditor – a managerial position requiring both technical expertise and leadership skills. This role includes leading audit teams, reviewing junior staff’s technology and audit work, and guiding them as needed.
Information systems audit manager
With experience and demonstrated success, an opportunity may arise to become an information systems audit manager. The ultimate responsibility in this role is overseeing the entire process of auditing an organization’s information systems, including planning, conducting, and reporting on audits while supervising other IT auditors.
IT audit director
After gaining even more experience, perhaps even holding a position as an information systems audit manager, the next step could be to become an IT audit director. The director oversees all IT audit activities within an organization, maintains compliance with policies and regulations, and advises the senior management on audit issues and improvements.
Beyond the audit department, they also can transition to roles that are more focused on cyber security, technology risk, and IT compliance. Positions like a cyber security analyst, IT risk manager, or chief technology officer (CTO) could be viable long-term objectives. The skills acquired in IT auditing can be transferrable and valuable to many business areas.
Similar job titles
Position trends and outlook for IT auditors
The primary trend is the growing focus on data analytics. Firms of all sizes are investing in powerful algorithms and machine learning to strengthen their capabilities, which has created an increased demand for IT auditors with a firm grasp of this discipline. Today’s professionals should not only have robust traditional auditing skills but also be adept with intricate data analysis tools.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projections through 2031, jobs for auditors, including those specializing in information technology, are estimated to grow 6 percent. This rate could vary as companies continue to navigate the ongoing technological shifts in the industry. There’s an anticipated increase in the demand for professionals who can ensure companies’ computer systems’ compliance with changing regulations and protect sensitive corporate data against cyber threats.
IT auditor career tips
Understand your role
A thorough comprehension of your role – from auditing systems and procedures to preventive measures and risk assessments – is central to your success. Be proactive in tuning your understanding of new technologies and methodologies within your field as this information continuously evolves.
Strengthen technical competencies
Familiarize yourself with different types of software, hardware, and networks to develop your auditing skills further. Proficiency in various IT frameworks, such as COBIT or ITIL, can also boost your technical competencies.
The world of IT and information systems is always changing, with new advancements and security issues being identified daily. Staying updated with the latest trends is a must.
- Consider enrolling in workshops or online courses that deepen your understanding of emerging trends and new technologies
- Certifications, such as CISA or CIA, can help you stay at the forefront of your discipline
Build a professional network
Networking with other professionals in the IT auditing sector can provide you with insights and guidance from differing perspectives. As well as offering momentum for learning, networking can lead to potential job opportunities.
- Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA)
- The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA)
- Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE)
Last but not least, be adaptable. The world of information systems is fast-paced and constantly changing. Your ability to adapt to new technologies, methodologies, and industry standards is essential. An adaptable mindset lets you handle surprises and challenges effectively, keeping you at the forefront in this rapidly progressing field.
Where the IT auditor jobs are
- Ernst & Young
- New York
Top job sites
What type of education is beneficial for an IT auditor role?
A bachelor’s degree in fields such as information technology, computer science, or accounting is typically required for this role. Some employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree in these related fields or an MBA with an emphasis on information systems. Specific certifications, such as CISA or CIA, often increase the chances of securing a job in this field.
What are the common job duties for IT auditors?
Typical job duties include examining the controls in place for IT systems, assessing the level of risk associated with those systems, and checking for compliance with applicable regulations. Auditors also develop and implement testing methodologies to evaluate the effectiveness of the controls and prepare audit reports outlining their findings.
What skills are necessary to excel as an IT auditor?
Excellent problem-solving abilities, strong analytical and critical thinking skills, and good written and verbal communication skills are necessary to excel in this field. Given the rapidly changing nature of IT, a high degree of adaptability and the ability to learn new technologies and procedures quickly are also vital. Knowledge of IT standards, procedures, and audit practices is also important.
What is a typical work environment and schedule for IT auditors?
Most IT auditors work full-time during regular business hours in office settings. They might work for an auditing firm, where they consult for various clients, or they could work in-house for a single company. While the occupation is not physically demanding, the stress levels can be high, particularly when approaching deadlines or heavy audit periods.
Can IT auditors work remotely?
While a large portion of the job requires the professional to be on-site, evaluating physical hardware, systems, and processes, many aspects of IT auditing can be performed remotely – including planning and executing testing procedures and communicating with team members. However, because IT audit often contains sensitive and confidential information, remote work would require secure and private connections to protect the data integrity.
What are some advancement opportunities for IT auditors?
With enough experience and additional certifications, individuals could advance from junior roles to senior or lead auditor positions. From there, they could progress to managerial roles like IT audit manager or director. Alternatively, they could decide to specialize in a particular area of IT auditing. Ultimately, they could even become CIOs, particularly if they have the requisite business acumen.
What are the main challenges IT auditors face?
One significant challenge is staying current with the rapidly evolving world of IT, including keeping up with the emerging risks and vulnerabilities associated with new technologies. Another challenge involves balancing the need for comprehensive IT audits against the potential for disruptions to daily operations during the audit process. Auditors also need strong communication skills since they often communicate technically complex information to people with less technical expertise.
Is there a demand for IT auditors?
Yes – since businesses increasingly rely on complex IT systems to manage their operations. As data security and compliance with IT regulations are becoming priorities for these businesses, the need for IT auditors to assess and improve their systems is more critical than ever.
How can IT auditors stay updated in this rapidly changing industry?
Continuing education, such as obtaining additional certifications or pursuing advanced degrees, can help you stay updated. Additionally, joining professional organizations or online communities can provide opportunities to network with other professionals and stay informed about the industry’s latest changes. Reading industry publications, attending seminars, or taking online courses can also be helpful.
Which industries often employ IT auditors?
Almost every industry that relies on IT systems employs IT auditors, including banking and finance, healthcare, telecommunications, manufacturing, and government, to name a few. Whether it’s a multinational corporation, an educational institution, or a non-profit organization, if they have a computer system or a network, chances are they’ll need an IT auditor to ensure the security and effectiveness of that infrastructure.