Becoming an Auditor: Pros and Cons
By keeping aware of the financial situation of an employer, an auditor ensures that an organization's money is safe. You should consider the pros and cons to becoming an auditor to determine if this career is right for you.
|Becoming an Auditor: PROS|
|Salary is above the national average ($72,500 in 2013)*|
|Executive career advancement opportunities*|
|As business becomes more globalized, more auditing jobs are expected*|
|Standard work week in most cases*|
|Becoming an Auditor: CONS|
|Employers may expect you to be licensed*|
|Post-secondary education is necessary*|
|At prestigious firms, rough job competition is projected*|
|During the tax season or end of the year budgeting, extra work hours are expected*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Auditors are in charge of finding out if their employer's funds are mismanaged. You'll research company spending in order to find cases of fraud or waste. This is done to help maximize your company's profits, protect your employer and save money where you can. Many auditors specialize in working with information technology. By keeping aware of the computer systems used by your employer, you'll be able to keep accurate financial data.
Auditors had an average yearly salary of $72,500 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2013. In that year, most auditors made between $40,000 and $114,000. The top paying states for auditors were Maryland, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, New York and Massachusetts. According to the most recent data available from the BLS, auditors who were employed in the securities industry earned the highest average salary out of auditors with a yearly income of about $94,000.
Most employers expect auditors to have at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related area. Majoring in business administration is usually acceptable as long as you specialize in an area like accounting. For advanced positions, you'll generally want a master's degree, such as the Master of Business Administration in Internal Auditing. While you're in school, internships can help you obtain some initial experience in accounting and auditing.
What're Employers Looking for in Auditors?
Beyond the educational requirements, many employers want auditors who possess excellent skills in organization. Auditors on a daily basis use many accounts, files, documents and papers, so keeping track of everything is critical to success. Communication is very important as well since you have to keep various facts straight for customers and employers. Below are several examples taken from job postings in April 2012 that detail what real employers wanted in auditors.
- In Tennessee, a senior auditor job required a bachelor's degree in accounting. Applicants with a master's degree and the CPA designation were preferred.
- An auditor position in Massachusetts called for applicants with at least two years of related professional experience.
- In New Jersey, a company required auditors to possess a certified public account (CPA) designation.
- An auditor opening in Florida wants people with an understanding of financial audits, as well as a bachelor's or master's degree in finance or accounting.
How to Stand Out as an Auditor
Although being an auditor is different from being an accountant, it is a good idea to be licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Many states require students to have at least 150 semester hours completed in college to qualify for a state license. Although states have general requirements set by their accountancy board, a national examination is required in most states.
Professional designations and certifications allow auditors to stand out from others who don't have this additional level of proficiency. For example, the Institute of Internal Auditors offers a certified internal auditor designation. To qualify for it, you'll need a bachelor's degree, 24 months of experience in internal auditing and a character reference.
Alternative Career Choices
If you want to work directly with the government and help with taxes, you can become a tax examiner instead of an auditor. As a tax examiner, you'll review tax returns to ensure that various deductions and credits are correct to make sure people are following the law. You'll process these tax returns in order to receive payment or send out a refund. If any suspicious issues arise with a tax return, you'll speak to the taxpayer to address the problem. In May 2011, the BLS found that tax examiners earned about $55,000 on average.
If you're interested in applying your mathematical skills towards estimating resources for a project, you may want to start a career as a cost estimator. By reading blueprints and working with trained professionals like contractors, engineers and architects, you'll review a plan for a project. As you review this project, you'll determine the necessary project costs and what the expected profit is from the construction. The BLS reported in May 2011 that cost estimators had average annual earnings of about $63,000.