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What is an Internal Auditor?

Internal auditors are individuals who work within organizations to assess and improve the effectiveness of internal control systems. They conduct audits of financial and operational processes, systems, and activities to ensure efficacy and efficiency.

As opposed to an external auditor, an internal auditor gains employment from the organization they’re performing the auditing for. Internal auditors are hired to help companies and organizations to formulate processes that eliminate financial risk, fraud, and waste.

What Do People in Internal Audit Jobs Do?

Depending on their level of experience and specialization, internal auditors can perform a variety of tasks as laid out by their employer. Some job duties include reviewing financial statements and records, assessing risk, conducting interviews with employees, testing internal controls, and recommending solutions to problems found during an audit. Depending on the time of year and where their company is in the fiscal year and tax season, the role and duties of an internal auditor may change.

On a typical day, an internal auditor will likely spend time meeting with their team, analyzing data, researching best practices, and identifying any financial problems within the organization.

From there, they will develop recommendations for ways to improve internal controls, processes, and systems. They will also work with management to implement these changes and track their progress over time.

Internal auditors may also be responsible for training employees on new internal controls or policies.

Where Do People in Internal Audit Jobs Work?

Most internal audit jobs exist in larger organizations, such as corporations, government agencies, or non-profit organizations. However, there’s a growing demand for internal auditors in small businesses as well. The most common industries to find internal auditor jobs are banking, insurance, manufacturing, and healthcare.

Some internal auditors may even choose to work as consultants, providing their services to multiple organizations on a contractual basis. While the job may occasionally require travel for work purposes, the majority of an internal auditor’s time will remain at their place of employment.

What Degree is Required to Become an Internal Auditor?

To become an internal auditor, applicants typically need a bachelor’s degree in accounting, business administration, finance, information systems audit and control, or a related field. However, some organizations may prefer or require candidates to have a master’s degree.

Some internal auditors also have professional certifications such as the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) designation from the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). This certification demonstrates that the individual meets stringent requirements regarding education, experience, and ethics.

When choosing a university, anyone hoping to work as an internal auditor should look for college programs offering bachelor’s or master’s degrees in the following areas.

  • Tax accounting
  • Internal auditing
  • Forensic accounting

Many universities help students gain practical experience through the use of internships with various types of businesses or public accounting companies.

How Much Money Does an Internal Auditor Earn?

The salary for internal auditors can vary depending on their level of experience, specialization, place of employment, and other factors. The average salary for internal auditors in the United States is about $73,000 per year.

The highest 10% of internal auditors can expect to earn as much as $128,000, however. The lowest 10% earn about $45,000 each year.

Most internal auditors work full-time. Sometimes, though, an auditor may work longer than 40-hour workweeks. It typically happens during tax season or when conducting quarterly audits.

Internal Auditor Job Requirements

To become an internal auditor, a person needs specific skills. These skills include the following.

  • Analytical skills: Internal auditors must be able to take large amounts of data and information and boil it down into a concise report.
  • Communication skills: It’s important to communicate effectively with employees at all levels within an organization. Communication with clients is also essential. Lacking communication skills may result in adverse effects on the company or clients.
  • Detail-oriented: An internal auditor needs to review financial statements and records for accuracy to make sure that no detail goes unnoticed.
  • Problem-solving skills: Internal auditors often need to come up with creative solutions to problems they find during an audit.
  • Technical skills: An internal auditor must be familiar with accounting software, databases, and other technical tools used in the field.
  • Organizational skills: It’s vital to be able to keep track of multiple projects at the same time and maintain a high level of accuracy.
  • Teamwork: Auditors often work in teams, so it’s important to be able to collaborate effectively with others.
  • Critical thinking: Internal auditors must be able to think critically about the data they’re reviewing. It helps to draw logical conclusions from it.
  • Financial skills: An internal auditor needs a strong understanding of financial concepts and principles.
  • Interviewing skills: Part of an internal auditor’s job is conducting interviews with employees to gather information. They need to be able to ask probing questions while maintaining a professional demeanor.

The job sometimes requires travel, so internal auditors should be able to work independently and be able to manage their time efficiently.

Internal Auditor Career Path

There are many different career paths internal auditors can take. Some internal auditors move up into management positions within their organization, while others may open consulting firms. Many internal auditors also become certified public accountants (CPAs).

The skills and experience gained from working as an internal auditor are valuable in other fields, such as risk management, compliance, and financial analysis.

The job prospects look good for internal auditors over the next several years. It’s estimated that the field will grow about 7% through 2030. The number represents a growth rate that’s as fast as the average for all available occupations.

The growth rate for internal auditor jobs is due to the continued need for organizations to protect themselves against fraud and financial mismanagement. The role of an internal auditor has become increasingly important in recent years as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act has put stricter requirements on publicly traded companies in the United States.

Passed in 2002, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is a federal law that responded to the Enron scandal. The law includes provisions designed to improve corporate governance and accountability.

Organizations are also under more pressure to comply with regulations, such as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). As a result, there’s an increasing demand for internal auditors who can help organizations ensure compliance with these laws.

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