Is a career as an auditor right for you?

  • career advice
  • February 15, 2017
You’ve been in accounting for a few years now and you’re eager to move on to the next level. It’s no wonder with demand outstripping supply and salaries rising faster than average, that a career in audit may be highly desirable.

In fact, Randstad employment experts recently identified audit as being one of the six of the best financial and accounting positions in 2017. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the number of auditor jobs to increase 11 percent, from 2014 to 2024, faster than average for all occupations.

Find out if you have what it takes to pursue an in-demand audit career.

What do auditors do?

Internal auditors are responsible for providing assurance on corporate governance, risk management, internal control and operations in all types of business conditions. An auditor is a finance and accounting professional who helps determine if an organization or business follows the rules, operates with integrity and accurately presents financial information. Auditors play a valuable role in the financial markets as they work to verify a company's financial health by checking the accuracy of its financial statements.

Auditor background and qualifications

Auditors typically have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance. Larger accounting firms and internal audit departments will often want their auditors to possess certifications such as certified public accountant (CPA), certified internal auditor (CIA), certified information systems auditor (CISA), certified government auditing professional (CGAP) or certified fraud examiner (CFE), among others. Out of these, the CPA is regarded as the most credible, since auditors interface with employees, managers, executives, members of the board and external parties.

Before entering auditing, many finance and accounting professionals start out in public accounting. Others come into the field and find that career progression from an entry-level internal auditing position can lead to management positions, such as controller, chief audit executive and even chief financial officer.

Auditor skills

What attributes make a finance and accounting professional well suited for a career in audit? Randstad employment experts say candidates need strong technical knowledge of all aspects of accounting. Having a CPA is a big plus. In addition, successful auditors need business and operational acumen, plus excellent people and communication skills.

“There tends to be a lot of pushing and pulling and struggling in this role. If someone is too in the weeds and isn’t a good communicator, that will be a problem.”
Adam Fisher, Randstad manager, Central Pennsylvania
Auditors need to be team players. As the scope of the audit can be large, it is beneficial to work together in other areas of an audit when resource constraints warrant it. Professional skepticism is also an important trait, especially when reviewing a company’s internal controls. One needs to assess how perpetrators of fraud can beat a company's controls, and auditors need to design and implement a system that can effectively protect the organization's assets.

If a candidate is coming out of public accounting, an initial role in internal audit may make perfect sense, according to Bob Demac, Randstad’s managing director in Boston. Internal auditors have an overall view of the entire organization. They can quickly learn and gain insight into the big picture, see which divisions within the company are growing and are the most profitable. “Then, eventually [auditors] can take a more significant role in a division that they deem the best fit,” Demac says.

What’s the difference between a public accounting auditor versus an internal auditor? Being a public accounting auditor takes an extremely quick study, says Fisher. “You need to be an excellent communicator and work well under pressure. The corporate internal auditor doesn’t have to worry about the next client or industry.”

The bottom line

“Auditors are able to provide knowledge and insights to business leaders,” said Ivonne Simon, Randstad practice director in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “[Audit] is about dealing with companies and people. It’s not just about sitting behind a desk.”

If communicating with company management and regulating a variety of business and financial processes appeal to you, consider an in-demand career as an auditor.

Looking for a new career opportunity as an auditor? Search for audit jobs in your area.