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How to Become a Retail Auditor: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn what is required to start a career as a retail auditor. Read about the education, experience, and certification requirements typical of pursuing a position as a retail auditor. View article »

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Become a Retail Auditor

Retail auditors work for companies centered on the retail sale of goods. Such workers fulfill a number of different job duties, which are normally centered on ensuring company assets match the company's records. Job duties include the detailed examination of financial records and statements, the preparation of taxes, the inspection of accounting books and practices, and the organization and maintenance of financial data for the company, including payroll audits.

Career Requirements

Degree Level None; bachelor's degree preferred for some positions
Degree Field Accounting
Experience Financial and inventory experience necessary for some positions
Licensure and Certification Certification preferred by employers
Key Skills Inventory, finance, tax preparation, inspecting accounting books, organization, and maintenance
Median Salary (2015) $67,190 per year (for all accountants and auditors)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Now, let's check out the career steps for retail auditors.

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Career Steps

Step 1: Determine Career Goals

Retail auditors are auditing professionals working for companies in the retail industry. The precise job descriptions of various retail auditors differ, but their essential responsibility is to verify the accuracy of a company's records. They deal with finances or inventory and sometimes oversee compliance with federal regulations or monitor customer service practices.

One common option for retail auditors is internal financial auditing, which involves checking company records against actual expenditures and income to ensure records are kept properly and company finances are in order. Inventory auditing is similar to financial auditing, except the auditor is responsible for determining the accuracy of company inventory. Auditors find jobs in a variety of other fields, such as overseeing building design and construction, but these are far less common. Prospective auditors should choose a career that matches their aptitude and abilities.

Step 2: Complete Appropriate Education

The education requirements for different retail auditing positions vary widely. Some companies require only a high school education and a mix of inventory or auditing experience and knowledge of retailing principles and procedures for hiring purposes. Others seek applicants with a bachelor's degree. Some education programs, particularly in subjects such as accounting, are designed specifically for those seeking a profession in auditing. As a general rule, more senior positions require more education and experience, while positions involving less responsibility are open to entry-level auditors at various levels of education.

Step 3: Seek Certification

While certification is not always required for retail auditors, employers seeking auditors for senior positions prefer those with certification. Professional certification for auditors is offered by several different organizations, including the Institute of Internal Auditors, which offers credentials such as Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certification in Control Self Assessment (CCSA), Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA), and Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP). The International Register of Certificated Auditors offers certifications such as Provisional Auditor, Internal Auditor, Lead Auditor, and Principal Auditor.

Step 4: Gain Work Experience for Advancement

Companies almost always prefer to hire auditors with work experience, as job listings on Monster.com indicated in November of 2010. This means entry-level auditors benefit from working in inventory or a similar department for a period of time to gain experience in the financial side of retail before being hired as auditors. Companies willing to hire auditors without experience for lower-level positions still prefer that applicants for senior positions have significant experience.

To recap, with a mix of education and experience, along with certification, a retail auditor can earn about $67,000 a year to examine financial records and statements, prepare taxes, inspect accounting books and practices, and organize and maintain financial data for the company, including payroll audits.

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