Auditing

An Overview of Auditing

Auditors work with a range of clients to review financial documents for accuracy and compliance with laws and regulations. Some audits also include a detailed review of a company’s accounting policies and procedures, as well as their information technology systems used to store and maintain financial data.

Internal and external audits are related and can be very similar in terms of how records are reviewed and what recommendations are made for improvement. External auditors often work for public accounting firms contracted to conduct audits by an outside company, while internal auditors are employed within an organization to provide these same reports. Auditors who would prefer to work independently can do so by setting up a private practice.

Auditors are trained to identify potential risks and propose preventative measures. Their role as consultants, either internally or externally, is focused on providing objective assessments and informed opinions about how existing practices and procedures might be improved. Overall goals of an audit include increased operational efficiency, risk management and regulatory compliance.

Auditing Careers

A variety of industries employ auditors to provide policy and procedural oversight and ensure accurate financial reporting. In addition to accounting and auditing expertise, excellent communication and interpersonal skills are essential to explain findings and recommendations to clients. Primary duties include evaluating existing financial records, information management systems and procedures. This type of review results in recommendations for improved practices, efficient financial operations and compliance with regulations. The following career profiles provide examples of auditing roles at different levels of employment.

Specializations

Information Technology Auditor

Auditors specializing in information systems analyze risks related to technology infrastructure, including vulnerabilities in information processing and storage. They recommend improvements to business managers which may cover system upgrades and internal policy revisions for the access, use and maintenance of financial data. Information technology auditors can work within a company or provide external review through an accounting firm or as an independent consultant.

  • Responsibilities
  • Job Stats
  • Education and Experience Requirements
  • Additional Qualifications Recommended

Responsibilities

  • Ensure information systems meet the requirements of internal policies and any external laws or standards
  • Provide detailed reports to business leaders
  • Make recommendations for improving technology systems and practices and minimizing security risks

Job Stats

Education and Experience Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field is preferred, as well as information technology certification.
  • Three or fewer years of relevant experience is typical of accountants entering an information technology auditor position.

Additional Qualifications Recommended

  • CPA: The Certified Public Accountant license is granted through State Boards of Accountancy. The process includes examination, as well as documentation of required education and prior experience as determined by each state.
  • CISA: The Certified Information Systems Auditor credential provides auditors working specifically with information technology systems an option for professional development and industry-recognized certification.

Internal Auditor

Internal auditors identify problems and suggest improvements through an objective review of a company’s processes and systems. An audit covers a wide range of activities and functions, including accounting and finance, fraud detection and information technology systems. Internal auditors work within an organization to continuously monitor risks and provide leaders with recommended changes to policies and procedures. This role provides an important assessment of a company’s current practices in order to maintain compliance with various regulations, and to prepare for external reviews.

  • Responsibilities
  • Job Stats
  • Education and Experience Requirements
  • Additional Qualifications Recommended

Responsibilities

  • Review records, processes and procedures
  • Assess current practices and identify potential problems in existing systems
  • Ensure compliance with internal policies and external regulations
  • Make recommendations to managers and leaders for improvements

Job Stats

Education and Experience Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree in accounting, business or a related field is expected.
  • Three or more years of relevant experience is typical of accountants entering an internal auditor position.

Additional Qualifications Recommended

  • CPA: The Certified Public Accountant license is granted through State Boards of Accountancy. The process includes examination, as well as documentation of required education and prior experience as determined by each state.
  • CIA: Certified Internal Auditor certification is offered through The Institute of Internal Auditors and provides an opportunity for accountants to develop relevant skills and document their knowledge in the field.
  • CISA: The Certified Information Systems Auditor credential provides auditors working specifically with information technology systems an option for professional development and industry-recognized certification.
  • CFE: Auditors specializing in fraud detection are eligible to complete requirements for the Certified Fraud Examiner credential.

External Auditor

External auditors review financial records and evaluate internal policies and control systems. They look for potential fraud risks and analyze a company’s effectiveness in meeting established standards and complying with relevant laws and regulations. These individuals usually work for public accounting firms, though self-employed external auditors are not uncommon. This role is often referred to as a public auditor.

  • Responsibilities
  • Job Stats
  • Education and Experience Requirements
  • Additional Qualifications Recommended

Responsibilities

  • Conduct process evaluations of financial statements using a specific set of standards, such as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)
  • Communicate with internal auditors to coordinate audit process
  • Report audit results and recommendations to clients

Job Stats

Education and Experience Requirements

  • A bachelor’s or master’s degree in accounting or related field is preferred, as well as certification in some industries and roles.
  • Three or more years of relevant experience is typical of accountants entering an internal auditor position.

Additional Qualifications Recommended

  • CPA: The Certified Public Accountant license is granted through State Boards of Accountancy. The process includes examination, as well as documentation of required education and prior experience as determined by each state.
  • CFE: Auditors specializing in fraud detection are eligible to complete requirements for the Certified Fraud Examiner credential.

Audit Manager

Audit managers oversee internal reviews of business operations, accounting and finance, fraud detection and information technology systems. These evaluations are ongoing in order to maintain compliance with various regulations and prepare for external reviews. Assurance managers have similar responsibilities.

  • Responsibilities
  • Job Stats
  • Education and Experience Requirements
  • Additional Qualifications Recommended

Responsibilities

  • Evaluate current practices and identify potential problems in existing systems
  • Ensure compliance with internal policies and external regulations
  • Make accounting systems recommendations to senior managers and leaders
  • Train and supervise junior accountants and auditors

Job Stats

Education and Experience Requirements

  • A bachelor’s or master’s degree in accounting or related field is preferred, as well as CPA certification.
  • This level of employment usually requires 5-10 years of relevant accounting experience.

Additional Qualifications Recommended

  • CPA: The Certified Public Accountant license is granted through State Boards of Accountancy. The process includes examination, as well as documentation of required education and prior experience as determined by each state.
  • CIA: Certified Internal Auditor certification is offered through The Institute of Internal Auditors and provides an opportunity for accountants to develop relevant skills and document their knowledge in the field.
  • CISA: The Certified Information Systems Auditor credential provides auditors working specifically with information technology systems an option for professional development and industry-recognized certification.
  • CFE: Auditors specializing in fraud detection are eligible to complete requirements for the Certified Fraud Examiner credential.