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How to Become an Auditor

Learn how to become an auditor. Research the job description and the education requirements associated with this profession and find out how to start a career in auditing.

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Do I Want to Be an Auditor?

Auditors examine financial records to check for fraud or waste and to ensure that individuals, companies, and government agencies are in compliance with tax laws. Auditors work internally in private companies and as public employees at all levels of government, investigating and examining organizations' financial records for fraud and waste. These professionals can work in a variety of industries, including finance, manufacturing, and management.

Most auditors work on a full-time basis. Overtime hours are common, especially in the beginning of the year, in preparation of tax season. The work of an auditor can be stressful and is often fast-paced. Some travel to clients' locations is necessary. Most auditors work independently, but collaboration with other auditors may be required for big projects. Minimal physical activity and personal risk is associated with this profession.

Job Requirements

Typically, a bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement needed to begin a career as an auditor. However, some employers may prefer a graduate degree. The following table contains the main qualifications and requirements needed to become an auditor listed from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Common Requirements
Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Accounting, financing or another related financial field
Certification Voluntary certification is available from various professional organizations
Experience Advancement is typically commensurate with experience
Key Skills Analytical and communication skills
Additional Requirements Excellent math skills, good with numbers

Step 1: Earn an Undergraduate Degree

Becoming an auditor begins with recognizing a strong aptitude for number crunching and data analysis. Auditing and accounting fields comprise numerous career directions with different educational paths. Some auditors begin their careers with a bachelor's degree in accounting, and there are also degree programs available with a concentration in internal auditing.

These programs can allow students to specialize early in their academic career, which better prepares them to begin entry-level work as an auditor. Students can expect to cover topics like investment analysis, risk management and government loans and insurance, in addition to general education courses such as English, history, math and science.

Success Tip:

  • Complete an internship. Practical work experience gives newly graduated applicants a competitive edge in the marketplace and helps them develop skills toward a desired work area. Co-op work experience, part-time auditing internships or full-time summer positions are available to give prospective auditors the necessary experience.

Step 2: Consider a Graduate Degree

While a bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement to become an auditor at some companies, other employers may prefer a master's degree, such as the Master of Business Administration or Master of Science in Accounting. Some colleges and universities offer accounting programs with a concentration in internal auditing. These programs may be designed for students who have some prior experience in the accounting or auditing field. They can prepare students for advancement within their field and teach them the planning, ethical and strategic skills necessary to continue working as internal auditors.

Step 3: Become Professionally Certified

Earning credentials by meeting educational, work experience and exam requirements from professional associations is a common avenue to career advancement for auditors. Certifications may or may not be required by an employer, but they guarantee a certain level of competency. The Institute of Internal Auditors offers the Certified Internal Auditor, Certified Financial Services Auditor or Certified Government Auditing Professional credentials, while the ISACA offers the Certified Information Systems Auditor designation. Auditing experience is required before applying for any of these certifications.

Success Tip:

  • Choose the certification. Certifications stand for different things, so it is important that auditors choose the certification that best fits with their career path. Doing extensive research is imperative before choosing a certification exam to take.
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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics