Internal auditors pursue careers with private firms, public companies, financial institutions, and federal, state and local government agencies. These professionals help ensure that organizations are run efficiently and public records are accurate. They also analyze and communicate financial information, and make sure tax returns are filed on time.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for auditors and accountants are expected to grow much faster (11%) than the average rate for all occupations during the decade ending in 2024. Employment is projected to increase as the number of businesses grows in an improving economy, new financial laws and corporate regulations are implemented, and awareness of accountability at the organizational level increases.
Career prospects should be brighter for candidates with advanced educational qualifications, such as a graduate degree in accounting, and professional designations, such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Internal Auditor (CIA).
Internal auditors check for waste and fraud throughout an organization. They examine financial records and procedures, and establish controls to increase accuracy and efficiency within a company’s operations. Internal auditors use specialized software to track data in real time, and may also verify the integrity and reliability of the data.
Internal auditors with strong computer skills may assist in developing auditing software to meet the data analysis needs of specific organizations and industries. They may also focus on developing technology plans, and the implementation and monitoring of computer systems and networks.
As of May 2015, the average annual salary for auditors and accountants nationwide was $75,280, according to the BLS.
The global staffing firm Robert Half projected a salary range of $52,250 to $65,500 for entry-level internal auditors at midsize companies in 2016. That range increases to $105,000 to $151,250 for managerial positions at large companies, according to the Robert Half Salary Guide.
Higher-level positions typically require candidates to have advanced educational qualifications and professional experience.
Numerous factors determine potential salary ranges and employment opportunities, including a candidate’s education and work history, an employer’s size and type, and local market conditions.
Internal auditor positions typically require candidates to have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Many professionals choose to become CPAs or attain the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) designation to advance their careers. Some employers may prefer to hire an applicant with a master’s degree in accounting or an MBA with a specialization in accounting.
Previous experience in accounting may also be attractive to employers, and students may participate in summer jobs or internship programs while pursuing a degree in accounting.
Graduates of an accounting education program should be able to:
There are many paths to a career as an internal auditor based on an individual’s experience and education levels. Some may start as an audit associate after earning an associate’s degree before progressing to a senior internal auditor position with an advanced degree and additional years in the profession.
Internal auditors should have a variety of skills, such as critical-thinking, communication, decision-making and complex problem-solving, as well as integrity and a commitment to upholding the principles of the auditing profession.