Pros and Cons of an IT Auditor Career
Information technology (IT) auditors make sure computer systems are in compliance with regulatory and company guidelines. Keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons of a career as an IT auditor.
|Pros of an IT Auditor Career|
|Above-average pay (median annual salary of about $56,000 in 2014)**|
|Chance to protect important data**|
|Variety of job tasks (reviewing finances, insuring security, updating the system, etc.)****|
|May have the opportunity to work from home*|
|Cons of an IT Auditor Career|
|Possibility of long hours*|
|Potential for high amounts of stress***|
|Extensive travel required for some positions****|
|A master's degree could be preferred for some positions*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Salary.com, ***U.S. Department of Labor's O*Net Online, ****Job Postings in 2012
Basic Career Information
IT auditors must perform a wide range of tasks in order to maintain the efficiency and security of a company's computer systems. You may evaluate and recommend improvements in an organization's information system, analyze computer system risks and mitigate any loss of data. Continuous monitoring of a company's IT processes and network security will typically be a large part of your job.
Salary and Career Outlook
For the overall field of accounting and auditing, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects a 15% growth from 2014-2024. As of February 2016, Salary.com reported a median annual salary of about $56,000 for IT auditors in the United States.
Typically, IT auditors are required to have at least a bachelor's degree in a related field of study. This could include computer science, business administration, finance or accounting. A thorough understanding of both business and information technology systems is commonly required. In some cases, an employer could prefer an applicant to hold a master's degree in a subject like information systems or business administration. Industry certifications, such as the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), may be preferred or required for some positions.
Communication skills are a very important asset for anyone interested in becoming an IT auditor, as they need to clearly present their findings and recommendations to various individuals and committees. Scrutinizing the day-to-day processes of an organization also requires great attention to detail, so a prospective IT auditor will need to be attentive to every last piece of information.
Analytical skills are necessary for work as an IT auditor, and communication skills will be employed in meetings and written reports. You'll need to explain a lot of information to senior leaders within an organization, from system upgrading recommendations to the causes of security deficiencies. Problem-solving aptitude is another key attribute you'll need as you pursue a career as an IT auditor.
What Are Employers Looking For?
Most employers prefer a candidate to have at least a bachelor's degree, and they may also prefer industry certification or work experience. You may work for a large corporation or travel to many different organizations each year to evaluate and improve IT systems. Some job postings open as of early April 2012 shed some light on the specific responsibilities of IT auditor positions.
- A large corporation in Buffalo, NY, is looking for an IT auditor to detect weaknesses in the IT systems of a major insurance provider. This position requires three years of IT audit experience, CISA designation and a bachelor's degree in a relevant field.
- A major technology company seeks an IT auditor to specialize in supplier assessment in Virginia. This job requires five years of experience in IT and three years of IT-related auditing along with a bachelor's degree and CISA certification.
- An insurance company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is looking for a senior IT auditor to secure web coding, maintain network and database security, and assess opportunities for improvement. At least a bachelor's degree in a relevant subject, such as computer science or business administration, is required, as well as about 5-8 years of relevant experience. CISA certification is preferred.
- A manufacturing company in Chicago, IL, is looking for a senior IT auditor to perform business audits, risk assessments and team management. At least a bachelor's degree in a subject like computers science, finance or management information systems is required, along with at least three years of experience.
Standing Out in the Field
Work experience is a major factor in advancing your career as an IT auditor, and you'll most likely work on projects of increasing importance and responsibility as you move along your career path. Having a detailed understanding of commonly-accepted IT governance standards is a good way to separate yourself from other candidates for entry-level positions. Good business writing and presentation skills might also help you stand out from the pack. According to the BLS, some employers prefer candidates who hold a master's degree.
While the CISA credential is frequently required for IT auditor positions, there are some other certifications that can help advance your career. The Institute of Internal Auditors offers the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification to internal auditors who have two years of work experience and a degree from an accredited program. The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) designation is another credential that can benefit IT auditors.
Computer System Analyst
If you want to work with computer systems but you aren't interested in financial concerns, you might be interested in becoming a computer system analyst. These professionals work alongside business managers within companies to determine the best uses and functions of information technology. A bachelor's degree in computer science is commonly required for such a position, and some business experience or knowledge could also be required. In 2011, these professionals earned a median annual salary of about $79,000, according to the BLS. The BLS also stated that computer system analysts were expected to see an employment growth of about 22% from 2010-2020, which is faster than the average.
If you're interested in financial matters but you aren't sure you want to work in computers, you could consider becoming an accountant. These professionals typically need a bachelor's degree to begin working, but a Master of Accountancy or a Master of Business Administration with an accounting concentration could be preferred. The Certified Public Accountant designation could be required by some employers, and a master's degree is the most common way to fulfill the 150-credit-hour requirement to sit for the certification in most states. In 2011, these professionals earned a median annual salary of about $63,000, according to the BLS. From 2010-2020, the BLS reported that they were expected to see a 16% growth in employment.
Computer and Information Systems Managers
If you're interested in both computer technology and financial matters but you want a job with better salary prospects, you could consider becoming a computer or information systems manager. These professionals manage IT systems and teams within a company, and earned a median annual salary of about $118,000 in 2011, according to the BLS. A bachelor's degree is the minimum education requirement, but a master's degree is typically preferred, alongside about 5-10 years of experience. From 2010-2020 the BLS reported that these professionals would see an 18% growth in employment rates.