An auditor is responsible for reviewing the financial information of an organization and evaluating the company's internal controls to prevent theft and manipulation of data. Auditors and accountants perform similar functions. However, while an accountant may prepare financial statements, the job of an auditor is to evaluate these financial statements and report back to the organization. Auditors need a particular set of skills, education, and experience. Learning how to become an auditor can help you get started in this lucrative and rewarding profession.
Part 1 of 3: Get an Auditing Education
Step 1. Take relevant courses in high school
If you are interested in pursuing a career as an auditor, it may be helpful to take relevant courses in high school. This can help prepare you for college-level courses in the future and can also help you determine if auditing is really something you want to specialize in. Relevant courses that could be offered at your school include:
- advanced math courses
Step 2. Apply to college.
In order to become an auditor, you will need a college education. Most companies and organizations require at least a bachelor's degree, while some prefer applicants who have subsequently earned a master's degree. Some employers hire graduates with an associate's degree, but these candidates must have extensive experience in bookkeeping and accounting. Candidates holding an associate's degree are typically hired as junior accountants and must work their way up to more advanced accounting and auditing positions. However, normally, to pursue a career as an auditor, you will need a bachelor's degree.
- Many auditors study accounting or a related career. However, some universities offer highly specialized careers, such as internal auditing for future auditors.
- If you can't find a college auditing program, get a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, or economics.
Step 3. Participate in an internship
Internships are not required, but they provide great practical experience and can help you network in the industry. You can find options by searching for auditor or accountant internships in your area or by seeking internship opportunities through specific employers, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau if you live in the US.
Consider doing an internship during the summer when you're not in school
Step 4. Graduate from college
Whether you intend to pursue a master's degree after graduation or go straight into the workforce, you'll need to do well in college and earn a bachelor's degree. Most of these degrees can be earned in four years or less, while some programs may offer a joint baccalaureate and master's degree that can be earned in five or six years.
Step 5. Consider getting a master's degree
Many companies do not require their auditors to have a master's degree. However, some larger companies may seek auditors who have a master's degree. If you decide to pursue a master's degree, you must find a program that specializes in accounting, economics, or finance.
If you want to advance your career in auditing, you will need to obtain a certification as a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) or a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). To get a CIA certification, you will need to have a combination of education and experience. If you want to obtain a CPA certification, you will need to complete 150 semester hours of courses, which is equivalent to a 5-year degree in accounting
Step 6. Try to learn a second language
It is not necessarily a requirement for all companies, but learning a second language will help distinguish yourself from other auditors in the job market. If you decide that you want to work for a government agency or in an area that has many bilingual speakers, learning a second language may actually be a requirement.
When choosing a second language, focus on what would be most pragmatic for your setting and location. For example, if you want to work in the US, being able to speak English will be a requirement of all financial companies. If you want to work in the US in a northeastern state, knowing French could be beneficial due to the proximity of the Canadian border
Part 2 of 3: Certify
Step 1. Consider getting certified
Although being certified before becoming an auditor is not a strict requirement, many larger organizations do prefer auditors who have a certification. There are a number of different processes and types of certifications, including Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), the Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP) and the Certification of Fraud Examiner (CFE).
- Of all the types of certification, the CPA is generally considered the most credible and desirable to auditors. This credibility is important as auditors work with employees, managers, executives, and board members, as well as outside agencies and representatives.
- CPAs tend to earn up to 10% more than non-CPAs and typically have more job security.
- Keep in mind that almost all places require CPAs to participate in some kind of continuing education (called continuing professional training) to maintain their CPA license.
Step 2. Make sure you qualify
For example, in the US, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) offers a recommended assessment to ensure that all potential candidates qualify to take the uniform CPA exam. This assessment determines whether a prospective candidate has sufficient educational preparation to take the uniform CPA exam and provides guidance in areas of study that the candidate may need to improve prior to taking the exam. The recommendable assessment is important as each state has its own specific requirements, including requirements that determine a candidate's educational level.
- Some states require a minimum of one year of public accounting work experience before issuing a CPA license. Other states allow different types of work experience to meet the minimum requirement.
- Candidates who have studied in the US are required to submit a $ 100 fee and an official copy of their college transcripts for the recommended evaluation. Not all NASBA jurisdictions offer this assessment; It is offered primarily in Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Utah, and Washington. If you do not live in one of these jurisdictions, you should contact your state's Board of Accountancy to determine where you can take the recommended assessment.
- Candidates who have obtained an education through an international institution must submit a fee of $ 150 and an official copy of their university transcripts for the recommendable evaluation. Contact your local Board of Accountancy to conduct the assessment.
Step 3. Understand the structure of the CPA exam
The exam consists of four separate sections: Audit and Attestation (AUD), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Regulation (REG), and Business Environment and Concepts (BEC). The AUD and FAR sections take four hours each and the REG and BEC sections take up to three hours each. Each section is graded on a scale of 0 to 99 and a minimum grade of 75 is required to pass.
The Content and Skills Specification Summaries (CSO and SSO, respectively) address the content covered in each section of the exam and are available online at the American Institute of CPA (AICPA) website. in English)
Step 4. Study for the test
The exam is quite extensive in both the scope of the material covered and the time it takes to prepare for and take it. Most candidates spend approximately 500 hours in total studying for the uniform CPA exam, although of course the total study time will vary from person to person. Many candidates choose to take an exam preparation class through local or national institutions, while others prefer to study on their own. If you study on your own, plan to study for one to three hours a day for several months before each section of the exam.
- The FAR section covers planning and review, internal controls, obtaining and creating information files, and preparing communications between the auditor or accountant and the organization. This section is generally considered the most difficult and usually takes up to 180 hours of planning and study to properly prepare.
- The AUD section is difficult, but is generally considered easier if taken after the FAR section. The AUD section covers financial statement standards, required content within a financial statement, and how to count and report for a variety of employers. Typically, it takes approximately 130 hours of planning and study.
- The REG section assesses professional ethics and responsibility, business law, and tax and accounting procedures. It also takes about 130 hours of planning and study.
- The BEC section is generally considered one of the easiest of the four sections. It covers business structure, economic concepts, financial management, and information technology. The BEC section is multiple choice and takes at least 100 hours of planning and study to prepare.
Step 5. Schedule and take the exam
The exam is administered by the Prometric company and is offered in eight months of the year: January and February, April and May, July and August, and October and November. It can be taken at one of more than 300 test centers in the US and internationally in Bahrain, Brazil, Japan, Kuwait, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates.
- The AICPA recommends scheduling each exam session a minimum of 45 days before taking it.
- The NASBA charges a total of $ 729.08 to take all four sections of the exam. There is also an initial application fee that applies to all first-time candidates and ranges from $ 30 to $ 200 depending on where the candidate lives and where the candidate will take the exam.
- All four sections of the exam do not have to be taken at the same time. This would be exceedingly difficult given the amount of setup time required for each. However, most states require candidates to successfully complete and pass all remaining sections within 18 months of passing the first.
Step 6. Pay your annual fees
All active CPAs must pay annual fees to the AICPA. The amount varies depending on the membership level and the main industry of the CPA. For regular members, the fees are as follows:
- partner, shareholder, owner, or independent accounting, law, and consulting professional: $ 435
- accounting, law and consulting staff: $ 245
- President, CEO, Chief Operating Officer, CFO, or Business and Industry Officer: $ 435
- business and industry management, staff or internal auditor: $ 245
- teacher or educational administrative professional: $ 245
- Government employee at the federal, state, local, or international level: $ 245
Step 7. Meet continuing education requirements
If you have earned your CPA certification, you will need to participate in 120 hours of Continuing Professional Training (CPE) each year. It is recommended that CPAs document all relevant CPE experience to monitor their progress. The period for reporting compliance with the CPE requirements begins on January 1 of each year.
- College courses count toward CPE hours. The number of relevant CPE hours is determined by multiplying the number of hours in the semester by 15 or, if the university uses a quarterly system, multiplying the number of hours in the quarter by 10.
- A number of professional associations offer programs that count toward CPE hours. The number of relevant hours is determined by multiplying by 10 the number of continuing education units taken through that association.
- For programs that do not have a predetermined number of hours, the number of relevant CPE hours is determined by dividing the number of minutes actually spent on the program by 50.
- CPE hours are documented by recording the class or program sponsor, the title and content description of the class or program, the dates and location of that class or program, and the number of CPE contact hours obtained from that class or program.
- Members are not required to provide documentation of CPE hours. Instead, the documentation is largely for the benefit of the member himself so that he can properly monitor the time he spends working on his continuing education. Compliance with the CPE is reported by paying annual fees, where the CPA must sign a statement that says "By making the payment of my fees, I affirm that I have met the CPE membership requirements for the year ended on the 31st of December. December. No additional report needed. "
Part 3 of 3: Working as an Auditor
Step 1. Embody the desired qualities
Although the needs of each company may be slightly different, there are some general skills and characteristics that are considered desirable in auditors. These qualities and abilities include:
- strong personal and professional ethics
- an attention to detail
- analytical skills
- communication skills
- interpersonal skills
- mathematical skills
- organizational skills
- professional skepticism
Step 2. Choose your desired industry
There are many industries in which an auditor can work. Auditors typically work alone in an office, although some work at home or in teams with other auditors and accountants. The main industries in which auditors work (in descending order of employment percentages) are as follows:
- accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services
- finance and insurance
- management of companies or businesses
Step 3. Write a strong resume
Auditors looking for work will need to write a strong resume. Some basic guidelines apply, such as using standard 8.5 x 11 inch (21.5 x 28 cm) sheets with a simple, easy-to-read font (such as Times New Roman), but there are also some specific attributes that a prospective auditor should include on a resume. Here are some of them:
- include a list of relevant courses, including classes that have taught you skills you did not gain from previous work experience
- show quantifiable results from your previous work experience (for example, detail how much of an organization's operating budget you controlled, how much overtime pay your cost-cutting efforts saved, or what percentage of the company's productivity increased after hiring you)
- emphasize how, specifically, your degree distinguishes your education from the educational backgrounds of other candidates
- use relevant industry terms and phrases
- detail your achievements
Step 4. Look for auditor jobs
There are many resources available online for an auditor seeking employment. In addition to traditional job websites, there are a number of professional auditor organizations that post online advertisements. For example, in the US, the AICPA offers a number of career resources through its website, including career opportunities at the AICPA and its Official Labor Council.
Step 5. Prepare for an interview
The financial world is much more fast-paced and determined than many other public sector jobs, and auditing is no exception. Many employers want to ensure that newly graduated entry-level employees can weather the stressful work environment. To prepare for the interview, you must be knowledgeable about financial news and able to handle stressful situations, all of which will be evaluated at some point during the pre-employment interview.
- Read financial publications and be prepared to talk about them. Some experts recommend reading the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times to gain a general understanding of current events and issues relevant to the financial sector.
- Review financial concepts. The employer conducting the interview can test you on your knowledge of relevant concepts and your ability to make hypothetical decisions based on basic concepts and financial models.
- Get ready to test your math skills during the interview. Not all employers will expect you to perform calculations during the interview, but it is not unheard of in the financial world.
- Ask your own food for thought. To do this, you may need to do a little research on the company's history, business model, and business practices. Don't ask leading questions, just ask an honest query that shows you've done your research on the company and have a genuine interest in learning more about it.
Step 6. Make professional contacts
Contacts are an important part of any profession and auditing is no exception. As you develop your resume and look for new job opportunities, it is important to stay aware of your professional network to grow and maintain your circle of contacts.
- Expand your group of professional contacts to include both your superiors and your subordinates. Your peers are a good starting point, but a diverse network of contacts is important to any job search.
- Always carry business cards with you. You never know when you might meet a potential contact, including at social events.
- Be honest and direct about what you are looking for professionally and what you need your contacts to do for you. If you need a recommendation, ask for it. If you need someone to schedule an interview, see if someone can help you with that.
- He always thanks people for their time and help. Whether it's a prospective employer who gave you an interview, a former employer who gave you a brilliant recommendation, or a professional contact who gave you a tip about an upcoming job posting, always show your gratitude to everyone in your professional network.. And, whenever you can, offer your help to others who are part of your network of contacts.