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Auditor Job Description, Career as an Auditor, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: College

Salary: Median—$50,770 per year

Employment Outlook: Very good

Definition and Nature of the Work

An auditor is a type of accountant. The main job of the auditor is verification of a company's financial records. Auditors study various sources to find out whether a company's records present its true financial situation. They check the company's bookkeeping and accounting methods by analyzing its books and records. They compare the company's books with the records of the banks, brokers, creditors, and others who deal with the company. They check the books of the departments within the company as well. These objective analyses and reports often help management cut costs, save on taxes, and increase profits.

There are two types of auditors—external and internal. External or independent auditors work for public accounting firms or are self-employed. Businesses, industries, and government agencies contract with auditors to verify and certify their financial statements. Well-run companies usually have their books audited once a year. An independent audit gives shareholders and creditors an outside, expert opinion of a company's financial condition.

The work of internal auditors is similar to that of external auditors, but internal auditors work for and receive a salary from one company. These auditors examine and evaluate the financial system of their firm to ensure that it is being run efficiently and economically. They examine all financial records, including accounting books, payroll records, and equipment and inventory records. They submit reports to management on how well accounting policies are working and where changes should be made.

Education and Training Requirements

To become an auditor, a person must have at least a bachelor's degree with a major in accounting. Courses in economics, communications, computers, and the humanities are also helpful. Many external auditors receive advanced degrees, such as a master's degree in business administration (MBA) or a law degree.

Many public accounting firms require their external auditors to pass their state's certification examination and earn a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation. All states use the four-part Uniform CPA Examination issued by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The exam lasts for two days and typically has a pass rate of only 25 percent. Before candidates can take the exam, most states require that they have 150 hours of college-level course-work, which is the equivalent of a master's degree and an undergraduate degree.

Getting the Job

The best way to get started in this field is in a public accounting firm. After individuals have gained some experience in general accounting, they can begin to specialize in auditing. Candidates can find out about job openings from accounting firms, Internet job banks, and from classified ads in newspapers. State and private employment offices may also offer job leads.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

The more training and experience an auditor has, the greater the opportunities for advancement. Experienced auditors often go into business for themselves. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of auditors was expected to increase at a rate faster than the average for all professions through the year 2014. After the accounting scandals at large corporations at the turn of the twenty-first century, there had been increasing pressure on businesses and government agencies to improve their accounting procedures, which should also lead to more jobs for auditors.

Working Conditions

Auditors travel often and do much of their work in the offices of their clients and in banks and other financial organizations. They often come into contact with people. They usually work between thirty-five and forty hours during a five-day week. However, they may be expected to work overtime without additional pay.

Where to Go for More Information

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
(212) 596-6200

Institute of Internal Auditors
247 Maitland Ave.
Altamonte Springs, FL 32701
(407) 937-1100

Institute of Management Accountants
10 Paragon Dr.
Montvale, NJ 07645
(201) 573-9000

Earnings and Benefits

Accountants and auditors in general earned a median annual salary of $50,770 in 2004, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salary.com estimated that mid-level internal auditors made a median annual salary of $54,445 in 2006. Entry-level auditors made much less. A 2005 salary survey conducted by staffing services firm Robert Half International revealed that accountants and auditors with one year of experience earned between $28,250 and $45,000 per year. Auditors usually receive paid holidays and vacations, health and life insurance, and pension plans. Some employers also offer profit-sharing plans. Self-employed auditors arrange for their own benefits.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesAccounting & Finance