Becoming an Internal Auditor: Salary & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of an internal auditing career? Get real job descriptions, career outlook and salary info to see if becoming an internal auditor is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming an Internal Auditor

Internal auditors are responsible for ensuring that the company they work for is operating within company and government regulations. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of a career in internal auditing.

Pros of an Internal Auditing Career
Fast job growth for accountants and auditors (13% growth from 2012-2022)*
Employees typically receive standard benefits*
Work in a comfortable office setting*
May specialize in different areas (information technology, environment, compliance)*

Cons of an Internal Auditing Career
Requires a high level of responsibility*
Frequent travel in some positions*
May work long hours*
Requires a wide range of skills (mathematics, communication, computers)*

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Internal auditors work for businesses, organizations or government agencies, evaluating their employers' policies, records and finances for fraud or waste. They typically inspect financial records, such as tax returns or ledger entries, for errors or other inaccuracies. Modern businesses increasingly rely on computer software for data storage and analysis; therefore, internal auditors must be comfortable working with technology.

Internal auditors typically work a 40-hour workweek. Some internal auditors are required to travel to various office locations, but the use of technology may allow workers to perform remote audits.

Job Growth and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that jobs for auditors and accountants would grow by 13% from 2012-2022, as the public demands greater responsibility from the business and finance world. Competition for auditor jobs will be strongest with the most prestigious business and account firms. According to the BLS, salaries for accountants and auditors vary widely, with a median annual salary of about $65,000 reported in May 2014. Internal auditors in full-time positions usually receive benefits, such as health, life and medical insurance, as well as retirement plans and vacation pay.

What Are the Requirements?

Auditing positions typically require at least a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance or business with a financial focus. These degree programs focus on essential skills, such as accounting, communications, auditing and management. The BLS reported that more schools are offering internal auditing training to students. Some organizations may promote junior-level accountants or auditors who display a high level of skill and responsibility to an internal auditing position.

What Employers Are Looking For

Most employers look for applicants with strong analytical and communication skills. The main requirements are usually a bachelor's degree and some level of auditing or accounting experience. Here are a few examples of job postings from March 2012:

•A Chicago-based manufacturing firm advertised for an internal auditor with a bachelor's degree in accounting or finance, excellent communication skills and the willingness to travel 15% of the time. An individual with three to eight years in the manufacturing industry, as well as a CPA credential, is preferred.

•A Los Angeles real estate company placed an ad for an internal auditor who has a CPA or is in process of getting the credential. Applicants must have one to three years of experience in public accounting, and they must be able to work well with a team.

•A West Virginia nonprofit is looking for an internal auditor with at least a bachelor's degree and five years of internal auditing or public accounting experience. Applicants must also have at least two years of supervisory experience.

How to Maximize Your Skills

Aside from a bachelor's degree, you can obtain professional certification that will allow you to stand out in the field. The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) awards several certifications, including the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) credential. Prerequisites for taking the exam include a minimum of a bachelor's degree (or the equivalent from an accredited school) and at least two years of experience in internal auditing. The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) provides CPA (Certified Public Accountant) certification for those with the proper educational background and work experience. These requirements can vary by state. Employers in the auditing field often prefer applicants who are either a CIA or CPA. Additionally, the BLS reported that individuals with experience in auditing software or information systems have better chances of obtaining employment in the field.

Other Careers to Consider

If you want to work in the business and finance field but an internal auditor career doesn't seem right for you, consider becoming a financial analyst. The BLS predicted 20% job growth for financial analysts from 2008-2018, and their median annual salary is considerably higher than internal auditors, at around $74,000 in May 2010. Most employers require at least a bachelor's degree in business, economics, accounting or other related field. Financial analysts are responsible for helping businesses make smart decisions based on cost, risk, market conditions and other variables.

If you would rather work with individuals on their personal finances rather than businesses, a career as a personal financial advisor may be a better fit for you. The BLS reported 30% job growth for personal financial advisors between 2008 and 2018, and a median annual salary of nearly $65,000. Personal financial advisors typically must hold at least a bachelor's degree in a finance-related area. These workers help individuals with financial decisions in a number of areas, such as wealth management, retirement planning, education funding and estate planning.

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  • B.S. - Music Business

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George Mason University

  • Master of Business Administration

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Kaplan University

  • MS in Accounting - Audit Specialization
  • Bachelor: Auditing-Forensic Accountancy
  • Associate: Accounting

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Georgetown University

  • Master of Science in Finance

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Saint John's University

  • Master of Science in Accounting
  • Master of Business Administration: Taxation
  • Master of Science in Taxation

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Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Advanced Accounting
  • PhD in Business Admin - Advanced Accounting
  • MBA - Financial Management
  • MS - Accounting

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Regent University

  • Master of Business Administration - Accounting
  • Master of Arts in Law - Business
  • Bachelor of Science in Accounting
  • Bachelor of Science in Business - Accounting

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Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Science in Government Analytics

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