Auditors are a breed of investigators who detect financial or accounting malpractices in public and private organizations. They play an important role in ensuring private companies focus on maximizing shareholders’ wealth and public companies use taxpayers funds prudently. If you possess strong investigative skills, and you are good with numbers, you could be the right fit for this career.
1. What Do Auditors Do?
Although the duties of auditors can vary slightly depending on whether they practice as internal or external auditors, their duties generally include:
- Examining invoices, receipts and other financial documents with their eyes trained on catching inconstancies
- Analyzing an organization’s accounting procedures or processes to ensuring compliance with relevant laws and regulations
- Studying tax reports to ensure reported earnings correspond with filed taxes
- Auditing accounting software and other financial applications
- Compiling reports detailing their findings and presenting them to users (typical users of audit reports include company owners, senior managers and lawyers)
- Providing recommendations on how to make an organizations accounting processes fool-proof – This involves developing internal control systems
2. Work Environment
Auditors work standard office hours, 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. Those who run their own auditing firms travel regularly to their clients’ business locations to conduct audits.
The average annual salary for auditors in the US is:
4. Entry Requirements
The road to becoming an auditor begins with earn earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance. Some of the topics you will study include:
- Internal auditing
- Fraud reporting
- Accounting information systems
- Federal financial management
Although you can find employment after graduating, obtaining the Certified Public Accountant credential from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants significantly enhances your employment prospects.
5. Important Qualities
The skills and abilities you need to become a sought-after auditor include:
- Superior investigative skills
- A huge appetite for little details
- The ability to adhere to professional ethics
- Strong analytical skills
- Strong mathematical skills
- Good computer skills
- Good organizational skills to work efficiently with multiple financial documents
- Good communication skills
- Good critical-thinking skills
- Good report-writing skills
- Good presentation skills
- Good business skills for auditors with their own firms.
6. Career Advancement
Some auditors start out as entry-level auditors, working under the supervision of veteran auditors. Others begin as accountants and proceed to gain several years of experience before moving into auditing. Regardless of how you get started, pursuing the Certified Internal Auditor certification from the Institute of Internal Auditors will increase your competence and, subsequently, advancement prospects.
Other certifications that are available include:
- Certified Government Auditing Professional
- Certified Information Systems Auditor
- Certified Financial Services Auditor
You can also pursue a master’s degree in accounting, auditing, and control, or finance.
7. Job Opportunities
The employers of auditors include:
- Auditing companies
- Government agencies
- Financial consulting companies
- Many types of private and public organizations
With vast auditing experience and auditing qualifications, you can advance to become a senior auditor and, later on, auditing manager. You can also become self-employed by establishing your own auditing company.
Lastly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the employment of accountants and auditors will grow by 13 percent over the next seven years. Given this rate surpasses the 11 percent average for all jobs, it is safe to say auditors have reasonably good employment prospects.
So if you have a nose for numbers, and you can work tactfully, then you are a prime candidate for this job. Go for it!