What Is an Audit Manager?


Published April 5, 2023

What is an audit manager? What are their typical duties? Explore this guide to discover the average audit manager salary, areas of expertise, and common career paths.

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An audit manager oversees internal and external auditing processes. They create and analyze reports, develop procedures that address areas of low performance, and ensure compliance.

Audit manager jobs are pivotal to accounting departments. These professionals ensure accountants follow proper accounting procedures to prevent errors and fraud. They also train accountants and manage financial departments.

Although audit managers are sometimes self-employed, they typically work full time for one organization as internal audit managers. Doing so allows them to understand their organization's auditing needs in depth. They can also specialize in external audits, supervising processes for an external auditing company.

Audit managers typically begin as accountants, working up to advanced positions. Before entering a management role, many auditors pursue credentials like certified internal auditor (CIA) or certified public accountant (CPA) licensure. Audit managers may advance to chief executive officer or chief financial officer positions after gaining career experience.

This guide reviews key audit manager skills, common career specialties, and salary expectations to help you learn more about this job.

Audit Manager Duties

The primary responsibility of an audit manager is conducting and overseeing internal or external audits. They also supervise accounting and auditing teams and identify problematic areas of operation. Audit managers play an essential role in organizations' process development.

These professionals complete the following duties regularly:

  • Develop Auditing Processes: Audit managers design processes for organizational audits. They also create new accounting policies to enhance companies' financial management. They update these processes to meet organizations' shifting needs.
  • Perform Internal Audits: Audit managers conduct internal audits to identify risks in organizations' financial processes and legal compliance. They also supervise other auditors as they perform audits to ensure thoroughness and accuracy.
  • Investigate Risks: If these professionals do uncover risks in an organization's financial or operational processes through their audits, they use this information to conduct further investigations, gaining insight into potential bottlenecks and compliance issues.
  • Give Recommendations: After completing audits and identifying organizational risks, audit managers create strategies for improvement. Then, they present their recommendations to executives via company meetings. These meetings sometimes include other decision-makers, like accounting managers and human resource managers.
  • Prepare Analysis Reports: Audit managers continuously analyze the information they gather from internal and external audits as they prepare reports. They use this data in presentations with executives and meetings with auditing teams to make informed decisions.

Key Hard Skills for Audit Managers

  • Accounting: Audit managers typically begin their careers as accountants. In this advanced role, they still perform accounting duties and oversee the daily operations of accountants in their organizations. A strong understanding of accounting processes helps these professionals ensure accuracy and compliance.
  • Auditing: Because audit manager jobs involve internal and external audits, these professionals must understand how to report and interpret auditing data to improve organizational performance.
  • Risk Management: Strong risk management skills allow audit managers to identify compliance-related issues and areas of potential financial loss. After evaluating audit data, these managers find solutions for reducing risk, including creating and implementing new processes or providing employee training.
  • Reporting: Audit managers must document their audit findings clearly. They use their reports to explain issues and suggested solutions to executives. These professionals also extract data from external audit reports to guide process development.

Key Soft Skills for Audit Managers

  • Leadership: As supervisors of audit processes, audit managers must guide, train, and delegate to other accountants and auditors. Successful audit managers build strong teams that work efficiently toward common goals.
  • Communication: These professionals regularly use verbal and written communication skills to convey information to their teams and company decision-makers. Their communication skills help them create reports, document problems, and propose solutions.
  • Attention to Detail: Attention to detail is vital when observing accounting processes and pinpointing areas of improvement. These same skills help audit managers extract critical information from reports.
  • Problem-Solving: Among the critical duties for these professionals are solving current problems and developing contingencies for potential future issues. Audit managers use problem-solving strategies to create better processes for organizations.

Audit Manager Areas of Expertise

Audit managers are prominent in the public and private sectors. These professionals often work for accounting firms or large corporations with dedicated accounting departments. However, other industries, like tax preparation and the government, also require their skills.

Below, we explore several areas of expertise for audit managers.

Tax Preparation

The tax preparation industry involves complex accounting processes. Tax preparation companies seek audit managers to oversee tax preparers and accountants. Audit managers specializing in the tax industry need a strong understanding of tax regulations and compliance.

Tax audit managers can work their way up from tax accountant positions. They typically have CPA or CIA credentials and several years of experience preparing tax returns for individuals and businesses. Like internal auditors, these professionals supervise processes and audits for one organization.

Common Job Titles

  • Internal Audit Director
  • Certified Internal Auditor
  • Compliance Manager
  • Tax Audit Manager
  • Senior Auditor

Human Resources

Organizations with human resources (HR) departments hire auditors to ensure compliance with payroll, tax payments, insurance, and other employee-related processes. Audit managers head the HR auditing processes for large companies. Smaller businesses might hire an audit manager contractor to perform external audits.

Audit managers specializing in HR evaluate data from audits and present findings and potential solutions to decision-makers. As a result, they sometimes overlap duties with HR or business consultants.

Common Job Titles

  • Senior Auditor
  • Insurance Audit Manager
  • HR Audit Manager
  • HR Consultant
  • Business Consultant


Government audit managers usually hold CIA or CPA certification and have several years of experience in public accounting. Auditing in the private sector requires a firm grasp of accounting, taxation, and government regulations. Government agencies expect audit managers to understand standards from the Governmental Accounting Standards Board.

Government audit managers can work in local, state, and federal agencies. For example, states may hire them in comptroller offices. Federal government agencies, like the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, hire these professionals to ensure regulatory compliance.

Common Job Titles

  • Government Audit Manager
  • Governance Manager
  • Government Audit Advisor
  • Certified Internal Auditor
  • Comptroller

How to Become an Audit Manager

Audit managers typically begin their career path as accountants with a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. Some accountants pursue an accounting degree with an auditing concentration. This concentration lays the groundwork for future auditing managers to learn corporate finance, fraud prevention, and forensic accounting.

Accountants interested in advancing to an audit manager role usually seek certification as a CPA or CIA. A master's degree in accounting or business administration can help them qualify for these advanced roles. However, some organizations prefer experience over credentials. Thus, it is possible for accountants and auditors with several years of experience and demonstrated leadership skills to move into audit management positions.

Audit Manager Salary and Career Outlook

According to February 2023 data from Payscale, the average audit manager salary is $94,760. Because this job is a managerial role, these professionals earn higher salaries than other accountants and auditors: For example, as of February 2023, Payscale reports an average salary of $60,490 for non-managerial auditors.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 6% growth in these jobs from 2021 to 2031. This projection signals continued demand for these workers, primarily due to increasingly stringent tax and compliance regulations, both domestically and globally.

Career Spotlight: Colin Smith, CPA

Why were you initially interested in auditing?

Audit seemed like the perfect way to learn about how different businesses operate. Learning about business and accounting in school is one thing, but actually working alongside clients and connecting the dots between how they run their accounting function was a much more immersive learning experience.

When did your goal turn from being an external auditor to becoming an audit manager or advisory?

Once I had a few years of auditing under my belt and experience working with several different teams and leadership styles, at that point I had a decent sense of how different parts of the audit came together and different ways to tackle problems, so becoming an audit manager was the next big challenge to go after.

What types of experience and accomplishments led you to that promotion?

For me, getting promoted to the manager level really meant demonstrating that I could own entire portions of the audit from start to finish and consistently meet project deadlines. Audits will always throw you surprises, though, and nothing ever goes 100% according to plan. But staying proactive, effectively communicating roadblocks, and finding solutions to problems were also key skills that helped me get to that next level.

"... Getting promoted to the manager level really meant demonstrating that I could own entire portions of the audit from start to finish and consistently meet project deadlines."

What did a typical day as an audit manager look like, and how did that differ from being an auditor?

As a manager, I was often the main point of contact for my client, team, and the senior manager/partner, so my days were often filled with client/team meetings and working sessions with the audit staff. As a manager, I also had my own sections of the audit to complete, which tended to be more challenging and complex.

Every day was its own unique project management challenge, between making sure the staff have direction and work on their plate, troubleshooting issues, and keeping folks apprised of status, all while getting my own work done.

As an audit staff and sometimes as a senior I could usually just focus on my little sections of the audit and not worry about the big picture as much, so being an audit manager was much more dynamic and challenging, but in a good way.

How much was your work focused on managing auditors, and how much was working with clients?

Every project is different, so your client and how your team is staffed can make a huge difference. Newer staff sometimes require a lot more real-time coaching and timely review to make sure things are done correctly, whereas more experienced staff can give you more flexibility. Likewise, some clients really know their stuff and meet deadlines, while others don't. On average, I'd say I probably spent 50% of my time managing my team and reviewing their work, 10-20% of my time working directly with clients, and the rest on my own areas of responsibility.

What kinds of education or certifications would you recommend people obtain to help them stand apart as a manager in auditing?

When it comes to auditing and public accounting, the certified public accountant (CPA) certification is really the gold standard. In most firms, it's even a requirement to make the senior staff or manager ranks, so it's not even really an option. I recommend getting the CPA exam out of the way at the start of your career, well before you're eligible for any promotion.

That being said, other certifications like the certified fraud examiner (CFE), certified information systems auditor (CISA), and certified internal auditor (CIA) credentials are gaining recognition and helping folks differentiate themselves in the audit space. None of them are required for an audit manager, but they'll broaden your perspective as an auditor and will definitely help if you want to get into certain niche areas.

Colin Smith is a CPA and accounting consultant specializing in financial accounting and reporting. Colin spent most of his 14-plus year career with Big Four firms and recently started his own consulting practice, where he assists public and private companies with their most challenging financial accounting and reporting issues.

You can learn more about Colin's current job on our financial accounting career page.

Questions About Audit Manager Jobs

  • What does an audit manager do?

    Audit managers oversee organizations' or independent auditing agencies' accounting and auditing operations. They identify and report potential bottlenecks or compliance issues and create solutions to prevent inaccuracies and fraud.

  • What specializations can audit managers have?

    Audit managers can specialize in fields like tax preparation, human resource management, and real estate. They can also work for insurance agencies; investment companies; and local, state, or federal government agencies.

  • Do audit managers need a CPA?

    Although not all organizations require these professionals to have a CPA, many employers prefer managers with CPA licensure. Audit managers typically have a master's degree in accounting or business administration in addition to a CPA, CIA, or similar credential.

  • Is an audit manager an accountant?

    Audit managers usually begin their careers as accountants or auditors. These professionals need accounting experience to understand an organization's accounting processes and advise financial departments on ways to improve.

  • Is auditing a high-paying job?

    Auditing careers pay higher-than-average salaries. The BLS lists a median 2021 salary of $77,250 for accountants and auditors, a broad category that includes audit managers. According to Payscale data about audit managers specifically, these professionals earn an average salary of $94,760 as of February 2023.

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