As one of the best-paying careers in accounting, there are a number of reasons a person may choose to pursue the occupation of auditor. Becoming an auditor is a multi-step process that includes formal education, professional experience, examinations, and for some, certification.
Earning a Degree
The first step to becoming an auditor is going to college. A bachelor’s degree is a requirement for obtaining most positions in the field of auditing and, for that matter, in accounting, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Many aspiring auditors begin preparing for their careers by earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting. This program of study provides them with the fundamental background they will need for success. Students in these programs will learn economics, the basic principles of financial reporting and taxation and best practices in the field of accounting. They may also include introductory classes in auditing.
Though auditing and accounting are closely related fields, they’re not identical. What an auditor does extends beyond handling financial reports and preparing taxes. In some positions and organizations, auditors are integral to improving productivity and efficiency within a company. For students who know that it is a career in auditing rather than general accounting that they are interested in pursuing, enrolling in a more specified degree program may be a better choice. Some colleges offer degrees in internal auditing that can allow students to develop deeper understandings of the field of auditing. They may include coursework in investment and risk analysis and management.
While many employers will consider candidates with bachelor’s degrees, especially for entry-level auditing positions, a higher level degree may be necessary to obtain positions with certain companies or to advance one’s career. Students and working auditors may choose to pursue a master’s degree in accounting (possibly with a concentration in auditing) or in a related discipline, such as business administration.
Gaining Experience and Getting Certified
Upon graduating from college, candidates can begin working in entry-level accounting and auditing positions, but they are not yet full-fledged auditors. They must first complete at least two years of professional experience in the field.
Accountants whose work will include filing reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission must obtain the designation of Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Some auditors may find that they need this qualification, while others may not. However, earning certification of some kind is usually a good idea for auditors and aspiring auditors, and employers may require candidates to either already hold certification or be in the process of earning it. The Institute of Internal Auditors offers a certification in internal auditing as well as certifications in other specialties. Earning certification requires passing an examination as well as meeting experience and other requirements.
Auditing is among the highest paying accounting jobs. Though the process for becoming one requires several steps, the end result is a rewarding career in which professionals earn good money and have the opportunity to influence the financial health of an organization.