Should I Become a Utility Auditor?
Utility auditors are specialized auditing professionals who are in charge of handling business contracts and billing issues with companies. They keep track of contracts, taxes, rates, fees, and various laws for any number of business clients. These auditors may find work in a variety of areas, such as with energy companies or government agencies.
Utility auditors primarily work in an office setting, though some local travel may be required for meetings. Such auditors work primarily independently, though some collaboration with other team members may be required.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree|
|Degree Field||Related field, such as finance or accounting|
|Certification||Professional credentials may be preferred|
|Experience||At least 1-2 years of related professional experience|
|Key Skills||Organizational, analytical and communication skills, as well as an eye for details; familiarity with industry-specific software programs; knowledge of related markets, including gas and energy, as well as the ability to analyze utility bills|
|Median Salary (2015)||$67,190 per year (for all auditors)|
Sources: Job listings from employers (January/February 2013), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net OnLine, Payscale.com (July 2015)
Steps to Become a Utility Auditor
How could I become a utility auditor?
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
A bachelor's degree in accounting, business administration or a related field can prepare students for a career as a utility auditor. An accounting degree program might include coursework in financial accounting theory, cost management systems, income tax accounting and auditing. Some schools offer specializations in auditing. Coursework for a business administration degree program might include accounting, financial management, business information systems and marketing.
While you're in college look for internship opportunities. Many schools and businesses offer accounting and/or auditing internship programs that provide valuable experience in the career field. Students can also look for internship opportunities with utility companies to begin learning about those fields.
Step 2: Gain Professional Experience
Employers usually prefer candidates with a few years of experience in the field. Accounting experience can be beneficial, as well as an entry-level position in auditing or accounting. A junior internal auditor's job duties may include assisting a senior auditor, handling balances and reports, and performing accounting work or other related duties. Another option is an entry-level auditing clerk position. This can help future auditors learn more about the industry and gain experience in related areas like checking figures, complying with federal regulations and using auditing software.
At this point in your career you should obtain professional credentials. Auditors have a few certification options. For example, the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) offers the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) designation to auditors with at least a bachelor's degree and 24 months of professional auditing experience. They must pass a written exam and renew their certification annually. Although it's not required, employers may prefer applicants with this credential.
Step 3: Take a Training Course
The Edison Electric Institute and the American Gas Association offer a utility internal auditor course. Participants have the opportunity to learn more about specific utility topics, as well as learn from seasoned utility professionals.
Step 4: Consider Obtaining Advanced Education
Employers sometimes prefer utility auditors with a master's degree in business administration or accounting. While this degree is not necessary to become a utility auditor, it can be useful for students who plan to become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) because it satisfies the minimum educational requirements for certification. A master's degree program in accounting might include coursework in accounting systems, financial accounting theory and practice, information technology auditing, e-commerce and internet security, economics and law.
You may want to obtain certification as a public accountant to enhance your employment and salary options. The BLS notes that the CPA designation is required by law for accountants who file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), although it's not required for all auditors. Most states require CPA applicants to have at least 150 hours of accounting-related education, but some states allow candidates to substitute a portion of education for professional experience. Applicants must pass a written examination through their state board of accountancy and renew their certification every other year.
Utility auditors have bachelor's or master's degrees. They are detail-oriented, analytical individuals with significant knowledge of utility markets, and they earn a median annual salary of $67,190.