What Does an Auditor Do? Examining This Financial Career

financial graphs 

Your alarm goes off on Monday morning, and you groan as you think of spending another week working at your lackluster job. You’re sick of wasting your potential in a position that doesn’t offer you any opportunities to show off your skills—not to mention a salary that doesn’t reflect your worth.

You’re ready to do more in a career that allows for advancement opportunities, an increased salary and the ability to achieve the lifestyle and goals you’ve set for yourself. A career as an auditor seems like it might be the answer, but you still have some big questions you need answered before you commit to a career change.

What does an auditor do? How much money do they earn? Will you have to pursue additional education? We’re answering these questions and more so you can determine if working as a financial auditor could unleash the potential you know you have.

What does an auditor do?

Auditors are finance professionals who inspect accounting records and other financial documents to make sure they’re accurate. A major part of their duties is to make sure an organization’s financials are compliant with government and industry regulations, such as paying taxes properly.

These finance pros don’t spend all day crunching numbers, though. They’re often called upon to meet with managers or executives to report on ways their organization could operate more efficiently to increase profits and reduce expenses. Auditors are key players in making sure businesses are run lawfully and responsibly when it comes to money management.

What types of auditors are there?

There are two major types of auditors, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): internal auditors and external auditors. Internal auditors work for a single company to identify instances of fraud or the mismanagement of funds. They help their company streamline systems to become more efficient and save money. External auditors review the financial documents of organizations other than the one they’re employed for. Their goal is usually to verify that an organization’s financial statements and tax payments align with regulations.

Auditors may also choose to specialize in a particular industry, such as healthcare or information technology (IT). These specialties can make a difference in job duties. An IT auditor, for example, reviews computer systems to verify that financial data is coming from a reputable source.

Where do auditors work?

An auditor’s work environment will depend largely on the industry and type of auditing they choose to specialize in. Both types of auditors work in a typical office setting, but internal auditors report to the same company each day while external auditors will spend time traveling to different locations to meet with clients and review their financial documents. Some auditors are also able to work from home.

The largest segment of auditors, 25 percent, works in accounting or bookkeeping departments, with the government and the finance and insurance industry as other common employers (BLS). Auditors should be prepared to work extra hours during certain times of the year, such as tax season or the end of their employer’s fiscal year.

What is an auditor’s salary?

Auditors are financial experts who are valued for the benefits they bring to a company, and their average salary reflects this expertise. The BLS reports that the median annual wage for auditors in 2017 was $69,3501. Auditor salaries vary by industry, with those in the financial sector bringing in the highest median income of $74,1401.

This finance career is also enjoying a 10 percent projected growth rate through 2026, which is faster than the national average, according to the BLS.1 Thanks to an increasingly global economy, the BLS predicts there will be increased demand for auditors related to international trade in coming years as well.

What skills do you need to be an auditor?

You can probably guess that having a head for numbers will serve you well in this financial career, but that’s not the only skill that makes for a successful auditor. We examined real-time job postings to uncover the top in-demand skills employers are looking for when hiring auditors. You just might realize you already have many of the transferable skills an auditor needs.

Technical skills in demand2:

  • Internal auditing
  • Public auditing
  • Audit planning
  • Audit reporting
  • Risk assessment
  • Project management
  • Business process development
  • Budgeting

Transferable skills in demand2:

  • Communication
  • Microsoft Office™
  • Collaboration
  • Problem-solving
  • Attention to detail
  • Planning
  • Research
  • Relationship-building

How do you become an auditor?

The path to an auditing career begins with education: 97 percent of auditor job postings we analyzed preferred candidates with a Bachelor’s degree, while two percent favored candidates with a graduate degree.3 Once you’ve earned your degree, you’ll have to determine your state’s requirements for licensing and certification.

Pursuing certification, even if it’s optional in your state, can give your earning potential a boost. The BLS reports that auditors with a professional recognition are most likely to have the best job prospects. The data agrees, with our analysis of auditor job postings finding that in-demand certifications included Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and Certified Internal Auditor (CIA).2

Audit your career options

Now that you’ve got answers to all your burning questions, including “What does an auditor do?” you’re better prepared to decide whether this finance career is right for you. If an audit position sounds like it’d be a fit for your future, then you’ll first need to earn an Accounting degree to make it happen.

Not convinced working as an auditor is in your future? That’s just one of the options you’d have with an Accounting degree. Learn more about what’s out there by checking out our article, “Accounting Career Paths: The Number Cruncher’s Guide.”

1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [career information accessed October 11, 2018] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.
2Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 52,640 auditor job postings, July 01, 2017 – June 30, 2018).
3Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 36,524 auditor jobs postings by education, July 01, 2017 – June 30, 2018).

Ashley Brooks

Ashley is a freelance writer for Collegis education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. She believes in the power of words and knowledge and enjoys using both to encourage others on their learning journeys

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