Everything you need to know about becoming an auditor

An auditor is a professional that prepares, oversees, and analyzes records and processes to ensure compliance, accuracy and organization.

Traditionally, auditors were found in most financial roles, but now they work in many different business units, including quality assurance, IT, and compliance. Some auditors will also specialize in a certain industry, such as healthcare or manufacturing.

This is everything you need to know about becoming one, below.

What does an auditor do?

An auditor is a highly trained and heavily trusted individual that makes sure a company’s financial records are accurate and follow the applicable standards, ethics, and laws. An auditor can also be an advisor on different aspects of a business, such as risk mitigation and cost-cutting.

A financial auditor gathers information from financial statements, tax returns, bank statements, and internal systems, in order to prevent fraud, catch errors, or eliminate any deviations from accepted standards. In essence, they provide oversight to a business’s finances, meaning they will acquire data from various departments, discuss issues with other stakeholders, and provide feedback on how to improve systems and processes moving forward.

For auditors that work in quality assurance or risk management, they will perform many of the same daily duties of collecting data, ensuring compliance, and looking for errors. They’ll simply be applying their analytical skills to areas other than just finance. An auditor, whether internal or external to the company, can provide a helpful second set of eyes to identify where a business could be more streamlined, profitable, and safe.

How do you become an auditor?

A bachelor’s degree in accounting is typically a minimum requirement, though some employers will look for candidates with a Master’s degree in accounting or even an MBA. An alternative path to becoming an auditor requires five years of relevant experience before certification. Because an auditor provides oversight for crucial documentation and processes, they need to be certified.

After completing the degrees or experience required, an auditor will get certified in the domain of auditing that they wish to pursue professionally.

There are many options:

The certifications require proof of education or experience, character references, and passing an exam. Each year, an auditor will need to pay dues to their professional certification organization and may need to complete continuing education and training.

What skills do you need to become an auditor?

In addition to an understanding of finance, data analysis and accounting, an auditor needs a set of softer skills. Auditors must be meticulous, detail-oriented people, who are able to sift through mounds of data and information with ease. They must be accurate and efficient when identifying issues in financial statements or other processes, and they must be comfortable presenting their findings to management. Clear, concise, and professional communication skills are necessary.

Because an auditor is analyzing other people’s work and systems, a certain level of professional courtesy and tact are required, even when they are having difficult conversations. Auditors must be able to liaise with many different people in order to dig up the information they require. Building trust and being easy to work with are additional invaluable skills.

What is the average salary for an auditor?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020 accountants and auditors made a median salary of $73,560. With data up to March of 2021, Salary.com reports an auditor’s salary to be $60,675 on average, within a typical range of $55,137 and $66,733. However, an auditor’s salary can vary dramatically depending on the level of specialization, the location and the years of experience.

What is the typical career path for an auditor?

After obtaining a degree in accounting or finance, an auditor will need to gain experience in the field before obtaining certification. Those who have an advanced degree can apply for certifications earlier than those who have a bachelor’s degree or no post-secondary education. After working for a few years in their selected industry of preference, they can study for the exam and obtain their certification as an auditor.

Getting a certification will open up doors for advancement, either to management within the same company or move to another organization carrying their new title. For some auditor positions, another certification will be necessary: Certified Professional Accountant (CPA). When working in finance or banking, holding a CPA may be required, and will usually be obtained prior to the other certifications for an auditor.

Not all auditors will work at a company, providing oversight and working their way up to a senior position. Some will work within government agencies, like the IRS, performing tax audits and other investigations to ensure accurate reporting of individuals and businesses. Other auditors will choose specialized fields to work in, such as healthcare compliance or manufacturing quality assurance. Additional industry-specific skills and certifications may be required, but the added specialization can often lead to interesting and well-paid opportunities.

Where can you find auditor jobs?

Jobs for auditors are expected to grow at an average rate of 4% over the next decade, which is on par with the average. In 2019 there were 1.4 million people employed as accountants and auditors; this number will fluctuate in lock-step with the health of the economy.

You can take a look at the available open positions for auditors on Ladders Jobs, including: