Auditor Career Information

Auditors are the people who check accounts for accuracy and to make sure all entries are complete and bona fide. They're also the people who find the mistakes, discover irregularities, and sometimes uncover fraud and embezzlement. 

The work environment

Auditors are either "internal auditors" employees of the organization they're auditing, or "external auditors" from outside. Some firms employ both types of auditor, with the external auditor acting as an additional safeguard. Sometimes external auditors are used as a general system check, a neutral party who'll go through the accounts objectively, over-sighting the work of internal auditors as an additional security measure.

An auditor's work can be highly sensitive. In some cases the external auditor is there specifically to check for problems with the internal system, or where there are suspicions by management of problems which aren't being found by internal audits.

Auditing involves:

  • A full check of all accounts for a given period.
  • Verification of accounts entries.
  • Identification of issues with accounts figures.
  • Following the "audit trail" of transactions to find problems.

Audits are complete, comprehensive checks of thousands, or in some cases millions, of transactions. This is highly complex work, requiring advanced knowledge of accounting, and in many cases expertise in specific industries, to understand the nature of the accounts.

For example: A contractor may appear to have padded and inflated expenses systematically over a period, charging more than the real cost of items on the contract. The expert auditor, knowing the industry, and knowing the cost of the materials, can easily see if and where the costs are significantly higher than they should be. The auditor is able to report to the employer the exact nature of the situation, the cost overrun, and the specific details of the overcharging.

Auditors are also responsible for ensuring that accounts and records are properly kept. They have a natural role as arbiters of accounts keeping procedures, and in many cases operate as trainers and advisers to firms whose accounts are substandard. This valuable service both informs their clients and prevents them from being prosecuted for breaches of law.

Wages: Median wage $55,000, upper range approximately $100,000. Self employed auditors can earn significantly more. 

Hours: Standard hours, but may vary considerably depending on the nature of the work and specific auditing jobs.

The career environment

Auditors usually operate as part of an organization,  but many operate their own businesses. Career progression as an auditor is based on qualifications, experience, and "degrees of difficulty" in their work. The nature of auditing work is on a sliding scale of complexity, and career advancement as an auditor requires specific standards of achievement. The levels of responsibility are clearly defined, and these form the basis of promotion and job mobility for auditors.

Audits are part of basic business practice, and the demand for auditors is very consistent. In the US, the projected increase in auditing professionals in the coming decade is double the national average, at 18%. The nature of the work is evolving rapidly as new software and advanced accounting principles are introduced to match new commerce and business practices.