Auditors are financial detectives, individuals trained to review and independently verify that the accounting data provided by an audited company actually corresponds to the activities undertaken by the company. In other words, are the financial records of an audited company valid and legal? It’s an important job. You’ll be a specialist, examining the money going in and out of organizations, and making sure it is correctly recorded and processed.
You’ll find you have several attractive options once you’ve earned your degree and been certified: you can be a public or private auditor. Work for the government or the private sector. In either instance, you’ll have to hold the company you’re auditing to exacting standards. So you need to be a detail oriented person.
Public, or external, auditors perform accounting, tax and consulting work for corporations, governments and individuals. These auditors work with tax forms and balance sheet statements that companies provide to potential investors. Many public auditors are CPAs who work for public accounting firms or own their own businesses. More on that later.
Private, or internal, auditors record and analyze financial information of their own organization. Private auditors work on budgeting and performance evaluation, help plan the cost of doing business, and select financial investments for their companies.
Government auditors maintain and examine records of government agencies and of private businesses or individuals performing activities subject to government regulations. You may be tasked with looking for fraud and embezzlement.
And finally, job prospects through 2024 are “above average” according to the BLS. They have projected an 11% increase in employment growth in a 10 year period from 2014 to 2024.
Average salaries for auditor range with total cash compensation between $40,801 and $79,773 according to PayScale.com. PayScale says a median auditor salary is $54,446. Indeed.com reports a $63,820 median. As with most professions, location of the job is the biggest factor affecting pay, followed by experience level and the particular employer’s pay structure. Highest auditor salaries are on the east coast, specifically, New York, according to PayScale and Indeed.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics gangs auditors and accountants together. Understanding that, the range of salary cited by the BLS is $42,140 (the lowest 10% in the profession) to $120, 910 (top salary). The median salary for auditors, according to the BLS, is $68,150.
Can you multi-task? Are you highly organized and detail oriented? Those are three of the main skillsets a successful auditor must possess. Other traits that make for a successful auditor career include:
- High ethical standards and professionalism, since auditors have to understand all aspects of a business.
- Familiarity with computer technology and knowledge of a variety of software programs related to the field. That is, have IT skills such as competency in MS applications, including Word, Excel, and Outlook are tools of the trade.
- Analytical and critical thinking.
- Good communication skills, since auditors have to issue reports after the audit is completed, and in some cases, testify in a court of law.
There are a variety of services that an auditor are expected to provide:
- Gauging an organization’s financial risk level
- Examining financial control systems and company accounts
- Ensuring that financial records and reports are reliable/accurate
- Identifying and modifying ineffective processes
- Preparing financial statements, commentaries, and reports
- Working in conjunction with the managerial staff
- Reviewing wages
- Presenting recommendations and findings
Necessary education and experience
At a minimum, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree to become an auditor at some companies. Other companies, think Wall Street, where competition is hot and heavy, might prefer someone with a master’s degree. Think MBA or Master of Science in Accounting.
For an overall perspective of auditing, and your educational path to success in this specialized field, check out our accounting FAQ section. At the site, you’ll also find features on fraud and tax scams.
Reading up on the profession can help students and graduates gain an advantage in the job market:
For advice on uncovering fraud go to the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists here.
Find the Association of Healthcare Internal Auditors here.