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An auditing career requires both strong investigative skills and a strong financial analysis skill. As an auditor, it is up to you to ensure that your organization complies with tax laws and complies with all financial regulations.
Auditing is a rewarding and valued career, whether you’re part of an in-house accounting team or working with a variety of clients. If you’re intrigued by a career in auditing, here’s everything you need to know to get into the job.
What does an auditor do?
An auditor is an accountant who ensures that an organization’s financial records are accurate. Where a tax accountant may prepare financial statements for a client or organization, an auditor reviews balance sheets, tax returns, and other documents for errors and violations.
After completing an in-depth investigation, whether as part of a routine audit or a one-time audit event, an auditor creates a report that stakeholders can review. This report lists all areas where the company is non-compliant, along with recommendations for solutions. Common errors include missed tax payments and miscalculations in a balance sheet.
Auditors should be detail-oriented and enjoy solving problems. It is also important for an auditor to have a high ethical standard due to the nature of their work.
Although many auditors are external, it is not uncommon for companies to employ internal auditors to avoid any financial missteps or irregularities in their reporting and taxes. Auditors are also responsible for noting where an organization can improve its financial processes, become more efficient and reduce risk.
Where does an auditor work?
An auditor works either as part of an organization’s internal accounting team or as an external investigator. External auditors often have to travel to their clients’ offices to perform their audit tasks in person.
All auditors work in office environments unless inventory is required. In these cases, an auditor counts an organization’s inventory – whether it is office supplies, livestock, furniture, or any other type of product – to ensure that the organization’s physical assets company correspond to its financial statements.
Types of Auditor Careers
As stated earlier, not all auditors perform the same functions. In fact, auditing itself can be quite a diverse career. Take the time to explore the different specialties you can pursue as part of an auditing career.
Note that while the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not break down projection data among the different types of auditors, the BLS projects that jobs for all accountants and auditors will increase by 7% from 2020 to 2030.
Education needed: An entry-level internal auditor position requires a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a similar field.
Salary: An internal auditor can expect to earn about $101,000 per year.
An internal auditor works for a single company or organization. They are responsible for ensuring that the company complies with all tax laws and industry regulations.
Auditors who work for a single organization take on additional responsibilities such as overseeing the preparation of tax returns and financial statements, financial analysis and reporting, and updating accounting procedures. Internal auditors are valuable assets because they can help companies reduce risk and become more efficient over time.
Education needed: An external auditor position often requires a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field.
Salary: An external auditor can expect to earn around $100,000 per year.
An external auditor performs functions similar to those of an internal auditor, but is not employed by any particular organization. Instead, an external auditor serves as an independent consultant who can examine an organization’s financial records from an outside perspective.
An external auditor must remain impartial to provide accurate reports and identify any irregularities or areas where organizations are not complying with regulations. Many external auditors work for accounting firms, the IRS, or different government organizations.
information technology auditor
Education needed: An information technology auditor should have a bachelor’s degree in accounting, computer science or a similar field.
Salary: An information technology auditor can expect to earn about $72,000 per year.
As the name suggests, an information technology auditor serves as an intermediary between the IT department and the accounting team of an organization. Information technology auditors ensure that the technology used by accountants to create financial statements, tax returns, and reports is operating at peak capacity and producing accurate reports.
Another common function of an information technology auditor is to assess an organization’s IT systems for any external security risks. Given the boom in technological advances, this position requires a high level of skill in both data analysis and computer science.
Education needed: A forensic auditor must have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field.
Salary: A forensic auditor can expect to earn about $70,000 a year.
One of the most interesting careers in auditing is that of forensic auditor. A forensic auditor must have a thorough knowledge of all relevant laws, procedures and regulations to determine if an organization is involved in illegal activities. Forensic auditors scour an organization’s financial statements for fraud, misrepresentation, embezzlement, and similar activities.
Forensic auditors typically testify in court and work alongside law enforcement. Forensic auditors can work for large organizations, government entities, or insurance companies.
An auditor certification is a great way to stand out as an expert in the field and increase your earning potential. In fact, some auditing and accounting firms require employees to be certified public accountants.
Two major professional certifications exist for auditors: Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)® and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)®.
If your goal is to become a senior internal auditor or manager, consider adding a certified internal auditor certification to your repertoire. This certification is administered by the Institute of Internal Auditors to demonstrate that you have the advanced auditing skills required to assess an organization’s financial records and create accurate risk assessments.
It costs at least $850 to prepare for and take the exam. You must also have a master’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or five years of experience in the field. Each year that your certification is active, you are responsible for accumulating 40 continuing education credits.
Before becoming a certified information systems auditor, you must have at least five years of experience as an information technology auditor or in a related field. A CISA should have a deep understanding of IT systems, security, and of course, auditing.
Individuals can become CISA through the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA). To maintain certification, ISACA requires its members to complete 120 continuing education credits over three years.