Should I Become an Auditor?
Auditors examine financial records to check for fraud or waste and to ensure that individuals, companies, and government agencies are in compliance with tax laws. Auditors work internally in private companies and as public employees at all levels of government, investigating and examining organizations' financial records. These professionals can work in a variety of industries, including finance, manufacturing, and management.
Most auditors work on a full-time basis. Overtime hours are common, especially in the beginning of the year, in preparation for tax season. The work of an auditor can be stressful and is often fast-paced. Some travel to clients' locations is necessary. Most auditors work independently, but collaboration with other auditors may be required for big projects. Minimal physical activity and low personal risk are associated with this profession.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree at minimum; some employers prefer a master's degree|
|Degree Field||Accounting, finance or another finance-related field|
|Certification||Voluntary certifications available|
|Experience||Advancement is typically commensurate with experience|
|Key Skills||Analytical, communication, organization, detail-oriented and math skills|
|Salary||$52,230 per year (2015 median salary for all auditors)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale.com (July 2015)
Step 1: Earn an Undergraduate Degree
Becoming an auditor begins with recognizing a strong aptitude for number crunching and data analysis. Auditing and accounting fields comprise numerous career directions with different educational paths. Some auditors begin their careers with a bachelor's degree in accounting, and there are also degree programs available with a concentration in internal auditing. These programs can allow students to specialize early in their academic career, which better prepares them to begin entry-level work as an auditor. Students can expect to cover topics like government loans and insurance, investment analysis and risk management.
- Complete an internship. Practical work experience gives newly-graduated applicants a competitive edge in the marketplace and helps them develop skills toward a desired work area. Co-op work experience, part-time auditing internships or full-time summer positions are available to give prospective auditors the necessary experience.
Step 2: Consider a Graduate Degree
While a bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement to become an auditor at some companies, other employers may prefer a master's degree, such as the Master of Business Administration or Master of Science in Accounting. Some colleges and universities offer accounting programs with a concentration in internal auditing. These programs may be designed for students who have some prior experience in the accounting or auditing field. They can prepare students for advancement within their field and teach them the planning, ethical and strategic skills necessary to continue working as internal auditors.
Step 3: Become Professionally Certified
Earning credentials by meeting educational, work experience and exam requirements from professional associations is a common avenue to career advancement for auditors. Certifications may or may not be required by an employer, but they may guarantee a certain level of competency. The Institute of Internal Auditors offers the Certified Internal Auditor, Certified Financial Services Auditor and Certified Government Auditing Professional credentials, while the ISACA offers the Certified Information Systems Auditor designation. Auditing experience is required before applying for any of these certifications.
- Choose the right certification. Each certification may be best suited for a particular skill set, so it is important that auditors choose the certification that best fits with their career paths. Doing extensive research is imperative before choosing a certification exam to take.