For some, the role of an auditor conjures up thoughts of boring, tedious and repetitive tasks that provide little job satisfaction or excitement. Why on earth would anyone want to become an auditor?
Quite a few reasons, actually!
Although an auditor may be considered a harbinger of doom in certain circumstances (think IRS), auditing jobs can be extremely fulfilling, particularly for those who enjoy problem-solving and logic puzzles. Auditors are similar to forensic accountants, except they don't typically work with law enforcement.
Auditors scrutinize every facet of an organization's financial processes and look for inefficient controls, financial leakage, lack of regulatory compliance, deficient management policies, tax discrepancies, and other situations that may result in errors and/or inconsistencies; in some cases they may even uncover fraud. An auditor will comb through financial data and records to ensure that controls are operated as designed and that proper protocols are followed in accordance with policies and procedures.
Internal Auditors: Internal auditors work within an organization. These professionals investigate and monitor existing practices and help to determine risk management protocols. An internal auditor must follow the auditing process in an independent and objective manner, in many cases internal auditing departments will have a reporting line directly to the Board of Directors to ensure their independence.
External Auditors: External auditors work for independent accounting firms and, therefore, are not employees of the firms that they audit— hence, they are completely independent. Independent Accounting Firms work for the entity that that engaged them to perform the audit, such as the Board of Directors, the parent company, or even the government. In the case of a public company (one that is listed on a public stock exchange), the Board hires an independent accounting firm to determine if the Financial Statements prepared by management present a fair and accurate picture of the company and comply with generally accepted accounting principles.
Whether you want to be an internal or external auditor depends upon the type of environment most appeals to you. Internal auditors are a part of an organization, and therefore integral to that company's culture. External auditors are independent of the organization they audit which may allow for more directness in their audit approach.
Auditors must have a Bachelor's degree, usually in accounting, business administration, or finance. Many organizations value auditors with a background in information technology or law, but having a solid grasp of your industry is essential. Many auditors, particularly external auditors, will study for and take the CPA exam in order to be credentialed as a Certified Public Accountant, which is essential for auditing public companies.
Nationally, the median salary for auditors is $53,000 per year; $61,000 if you have your CPA.
Lewis Daidone is a Certified Public Accountant and a consultant to financial services firms and technology companies..