Compiled and Written by Accounting.com Staff


The field of financial reporting and accounting encompasses many areas, and auditing serves as one of the more integral concentrations. Notably, most accounting and auditing programs emphasize financial reporting.

With an auditing degree, graduates can analyze and verify the financial records of companies, organizations, and governments. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that accounting and auditing professions will experience a growth rate of 6% from 2018 to 2028.

Growth in accounting jobs often mirrors the overall health of the economy. This page will further explore how to earn an auditing degree and its uses in finance.

What Is an Auditing Concentration?

Accounting generally focuses on the overall scope of financial reporting, but what is auditing, and what role does it play within accounting? An auditing concentration explicitly targets the process of examining business data and documents to ensure compliance with laws and regulations.

For students interested in a career in auditing, a bachelor's degree in accounting is the minimum requirement. However, those striving for a bachelor's in auditing can take specific auditing courses to delve deeper into the discipline.

While accounting and auditing share many elements, it's essential to consider how an auditing degree can focus more on specific areas that prospective students seek, such as investigative skills. An accounting degree can feature one or more auditing courses, but tailoring degrees for auditing allows learners access to a specialized curriculum covering both the foundations of accounting and specific auditing practices.

In pursuing an auditing degree, students can prepare for careers in financial analysis across many industries. Undergraduate courses teach the internal processes for audits at both the corporate and individual levels.

Careers relating to the auditing field include:

  • Tax auditor
  • Internal auditor
  • External auditor
  • Government auditor

Students interested in pursuing auditing degrees can earn a bachelor's, a master's, or a doctoral degree. According to the BLS, entry-level positions for accountants and auditors typically require at least a bachelor's degree.

Bachelor's Concentration

Although auditing focuses primarily on financial analysis and reporting, prospective auditors also need to learn general business practices. In addition to standard accounting courses like principles of finance and financial management, degree-seekers enrolling in undergraduate studies for auditing must also take business-related courses. These include business strategy, business law, microeconomics, and operations management.

With accounting and auditing so intertwined at the undergraduate level, students wanting to gain more insight into the details of the profession can turn to a master's program for more complex and in-depth subjects in the field.

Master's Concentration

Earning a master's in auditing involves more advanced subjects. Students can expect to learn more about specific types of auditing, including those related to fraud, taxation, internal, government, and financial crimes.

While courses differ among programs, a master's in auditing often includes classes in the following subjects:

  • Forensic accounting
  • Audit and information assurance
  • Detecting and preventing fraudulent financial statements

After earning a bachelor's degree in auditing, students may need to pursue additional certification or licensure. Many accounting firms require accountants and auditors to hold a certified public accountant (CPA) license in the state they conduct business.


Why Choose an Auditing Concentration?

The need for auditors to ensure compliance with new laws and regulations continues to grow. Auditing jobs feature increasing benefits and are not only in demand but also at a low risk of elimination due to developing technologies.

Shielded From Automation

While technology will simplify and automate routine auditing tasks, the change to automation will not reduce the overall demand for the position, according to the BLS.

Growing Opportunities

As more financial regulations and regulatory bodies receive implementation to combat the 2008 economic recession, stricter government regulations enable auditing to continue to grow as a field.

Competitive Salary

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for accountants and auditors in 2019 was $71,550. The highest 10% in the profession earned $124,450.

Seasonal Peaks

With tax season and end-of-year budgeting typically requiring more work, auditors needing additional revenue during these times can find ample work opportunities.

Upward Mobility

Becoming versed in financial auditing and the inner workings of organizations allows auditors to develop skills required for financial management roles.

When Is an Auditing Concentration Better Than a General Accounting Degree?

Students searching for specific auditing jobs can look beyond general accounting degrees to gain the skills they need. While a standard accounting degree can help land you an auditing position, those interested in specific auditing jobs like IT auditor are better served by earning a degree with an auditing concentration.

When Might a General Accounting Degree Be Better Than an Auditing Concentration?

If you're uncertain about the type of auditing you're interested in or want broader career options, a general accounting degree is a good option. A general accounting degree allows you to dabble in auditing while honing vast financial skills.

In particular, a general accounting degree can expose you to the basics of auditing and help you decide whether it's a career path you want to pursue.

What About Other Concentrations?

Auditing is just one of the various concentrations available to accounting majors. By learning what each concentration offers and the career paths involved, you can better understand how your unique skills and passions align with each discipline.

Explore Other Concentrations


Courses to Expect From an Auditing Concentration

Choosing an auditing concentration means you can anticipate an intense foray into the core principles of the discipline. With technology and new legislation impacting auditing practices, auditing courses cover a wide array of subjects to help students navigate the ever-changing field.

Curriculums for general accounting degrees and those with auditing concentrations often feature similar core courses. Subjects typically common to the two programs include business law, financial statement analysis, financial accounting, and managerial economics. Available electives can include government auditing, management theory, and commercial operations.

Typical auditing courses you might encounter include:

Information Technology Auditing
Along with providing an overall look into internal auditing, this undergraduate course focuses on how to implement technology and system controls into an audit. Students investigate numerous topics, including risk management, data assurance, IT delivery, company security, and system development.
Federal Income Tax Auditing
Centered around the U.S. federal tax system, this bachelor's course encompasses personal and business taxes, what qualifies as a tax deduction, and how tax laws differ between individuals and businesses. Topics include itemized deductions, retirement plans, and how to identify fraudulent returns.
Forensic Accounting
Often a required core course for auditing concentrations, forensic accounting delves into preventing and discovering financial fraud. Students learn how to conduct financial investigations in the private, public, and government sectors. Topics covered feature money laundering, financial audits, white-collar crime, and compliance.
Corporate Finance
Doctoral students can use this course as an introduction to the overall scheme of corporate finance. Research topics focus on management theory, corporate financing, investments, limited liability, organizational resources, internal control systems, and corporate structure. Students learn the intricacies of corporations to better understand daily operations.
Fraud Examination
Typically part of an auditing concentration within an MBA program, this course highlights the process of creating a fraud audit system capable of detecting financial wrongdoings. Learners explore the methodology behind detecting fraudulent transactions and the best practices to help discover fraud. Areas of fraud the class covers include payroll, inventory, recordkeeping, procurement, and disbursement.

Careers for Auditing Degree Graduates

After achieving an auditing degree online or through traditional classes, graduates can begin preparing for work in the public, private, or government sector.

Government auditor and internal auditor are two of the more common career paths within the field. Auditors can work in a specific industry or branch off into different accounting positions.

Because they gain a variety of financial skills while earning their degree, auditing graduates can also work as financial advisors, forensic accountants, taxation accountants, or sports accountants.

With the median annual wage for auditors at $71,550, earning financial certifications such as certified internal auditor can help increase your salary demands when looking for a position. More education in the field can open your career prospects to more rewarding financial positions like chief financial officer.

Financial Analyst

The concepts of financial auditing are integral to professions focusing on economic analysis. Although financial analysts conduct business evaluations, their main function is to improve companies' performance and stability. A bachelor's degree is generally required for this position.

Annual Median Salary: $85,660

Internal Auditor

Few occupations cater better to an auditing degree than the internal auditor. This role generally involves complete analyses of entities' operations to fully understand their financial situations. Areas under audit typically include accounting procedures, internal controls, and daily compliance with the latest regulations.

Annual Mean Salary: $57,520

Forensic Accountant

Investigating all areas of finance for individuals and businesses is the core work for forensic accountants. Using principles of auditing, forensic accountants decipher documents to detect fraud and theft. Ensuring compliance with the latest laws and regulations is another auditing skill this occupation requires.

Annual Mean Salary: $68,531

Budget Analyst

Like auditors, budget analysts constantly evaluate and analyze financial data. Reviewing and organizing finances, budget analysts often use auditing skills in their daily work. Compliance is another auditing skill that translates well into this career. As is the case with most accounting roles, a bachelor's degree is recommended for entry-level positions in budget analysis.

Annual Median Salary: $76,540

Compliance Officer

When it comes to making sure a business or government entity adheres to laws and regulations, compliance officers are at the forefront. Knowledge of auditing principles can help a compliance officer maintain companywide adherence to standards. The processes a compliance officer implements help prevent legal delays from interrupting business.

Annual Mean Salary: $68,682

Selecting an Accounting Program With an Auditing Concentration

Before choosing an accounting program, it's vital to first assess your educational and career objectives. Key factors in your decision-making process should include cost, location, online versus in-person formats, and school size.

Accounting and auditing are major fields for business schools, so look to those institutions for curriculums catering to prospective auditors. Choosing a business-focused university can also offer access to more specific concentrations than might be available at a comprehensive state university.

It's crucial not to settle for just any school. Many accounting firms won't accept degrees from unaccredited schools, which makes graduating from an accredited university essential.

With college becoming more expensive, make sure to research financial aid and scholarship opportunities available at your prospective schools. A university's career services and educational resources are other factors to consider to help ensure you'll have the guidance you need throughout your educational journey.

Learners preferring smaller class sizes and a lower student-to-teacher ratio can enroll in a university with a more modest enrollment to help facilitate more one-on-one learning. Additionally, an online auditing degree can offer the flexibility and convenience some prospective students seek.

Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of degree do you need to be an auditor?
Generally, you need at least a bachelor's degree to enter the profession of auditing.
What skills do you need to be an auditor?
Excellent proficiency in math is necessary for auditors. In addition, communication and attention to detail play a role not only in conducting financial analyses but also in conveying associated results.
Do auditors need a CPA license?
Although a CPA license is not required for an entry-level auditor, CPA licensure and other similar certifications may be necessary for career advancement.
How do I start a career in auditing?
After developing an interest in accounting and auditing, earning a bachelor's degree is an excellent first step. Additionally, completing an internship with a financial firm can help you get your foot in the door.
Can you get an auditing degree online?
You can earn an auditing degree online. Just make sure the university's accreditation, cost, resources, and curriculum meet your standards.

Professional Organizations and Resources

After schooling and internships, you may find yourself needing a more robust network in the industry. You don't want your auditing skills to waste away as the profession evolves, and networking with other professionals and companies can serve as a crucial part of your career.

Check out the list below to explore some professional associations aiming to expand the auditing industry to educate and empower professionals.

  • The Institute of Internal Auditors This organization was established in 1941 and features over 200,000 members worldwide. The company's goal is to provide leadership to the field of internal auditing while providing educational and developmental support for its members.
  • American Institute of CPAs AICPA features a network of over 400,000 professionals in the accounting industry. The organization's mission is to provide educational resources to its members while advocating for better auditing enforcement procedures.
  • National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers NASACT is committed to serving the careers of financial professionals in government. Established in 1915, the organization meets annually to provide leadership and training for its government members in a nonpartisan manner.
  • American Accounting Association This association boasts the largest membership of accountants in academia and strives to educate, collaborate, and innovate with various professionals. Founded in 1916, its mission is to find solutions advancing the accounting profession.

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