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IRS Training Requirements to Become an IRS Worker

Sep 24, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an IRS worker. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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To become an IRS worker, one needs a bachelor's degree in business or finance with a minimum of 30 credit hours in accounting. More advanced positions require more extensive schooling, specialized training and experience.

Essential Information

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers a variety of employment options, including field work, management and legal careers. The IRS provides on-the-job training and classroom instruction to many new employees, as well as continuing education and tuition reimbursement programs throughout an IRS worker's career.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in business or finance
Other Requirements Minimum 30 credit hours of accounting
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* -2% for tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents
Median Salary (2018)* $54,440 annually for tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

IRS Agent

IRS agents, sometimes known as auditors, examine tax returns and conduct interviews with taxpayers, including individuals and business owners. According to the IRS, the minimum educational requirement for an entry-level IRS agent is a bachelor's degree in a field such as business or finance, including at least 30 credit hours of accounting (www.jobs.irs.gov). The IRS provides comprehensive training to new agents, combining classroom instruction and hands-on experience.

Classroom instruction occurs at one of several IRS training facilities throughout the U.S., and it includes coursework in detecting fraudulent transactions and practices, tax law, interacting with taxpayers and IRS reporting procedures. New IRS workers are also paired with skilled agents for one-on-one field training. Additional Web-based training includes instruction in federal tax law pertaining to businesses and individuals. The IRS also provides agents with ongoing education in tax codes and related subjects.

IRS Revenue Officer

IRS revenue officers collect taxes and work in IRS field offices. The minimum educational requirement is a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, such as business, criminal justice or accounting. The IRS provides formal training to these workers through classroom instruction in enforcement methods, tax law and investigation procedures.

New revenue officers are also paired with experienced agents for on-the-job training. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), initial training of IRS revenue officers can last up to two years, with additional training provided throughout various stages of a revenue officer's career (www.bls.gov). The IRS also offers tuition reimbursement to workers who pursue education relevant to their careers.

IRS Executive

The IRS often hires executives with proven leadership skills and managerial experience in a variety of fields to work in the IRS Senior Executive Service (SES). While it's sometimes possible to join the SES directly, many prospective IRS executives participate in the SES Candidate Development Program (CDP), a paid management training program that takes 1-2 years to complete. CDP participants are assigned an SES mentor, complete developmental assignments and attend approximately 80 hours of formal training.

Candidates must apply for admittance to a CDP class, and program vacancies are posted along with other IRS job openings. If accepted into the program, candidates must often relocate to an assigned location. Upon completion of the program, graduates undergo a review by the Qualification Review Board of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to earn SES certification, which is required for entry to the SES.

IRS Attorney

Entry-level IRS attorneys are often hired through summer internships and other recruitment programs. As participants in the IRS Summer Legal Intern Program, students enrolled in law schools accredited by the American Bar Association work under the direct supervision of IRS lawyers in the areas of taxation, personnel and labor. Once the internship is completed, interns may be offered a full-time position with the IRS.

The IRS also offers employment to third-year law students and recent law school graduates through its Chief Counsel Honors Program. Through this program, entry-level attorneys are hired to work in the Office of Chief Counsel in IRS offices throughout the U.S. for a minimum 3-year commitment.

According to the IRS, in both cases the strongest candidates are those who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and who have gained relevant work experience, either through volunteering with government tax assistance programs or through law internships or clerkships. Participation in student activities such as law review and moot court may also enhance job prospects.

Aspiring IRS workers need formal education related to finances, particularly with business and accounting. Many workers opt for continued education and optional certification in order to distinguish themselves and advance their careers.

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