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What the Requirements are to be an Auditor

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If you are a math-or business-minded individual on the hunt for the perfect career choice, you may have considered being an auditor. But what exactly does and auditor do? In simple terms, auditors ''check the books''— they go over their employer's accounts and guide them towards better accounting practices regarding taxation and other issues of compliance. Auditors provide an independent assessment of an organization's accuracy in its financial statements by looking for fraud, mismanagement and waste.

But what does an auditor do on a day-to-day basis? Well, if you are an internal auditor, you examine and evaluate organizations' information and financial systems, internal controls, and management procedures, and review company operations for issues of effectiveness, efficiency, and compliance with corporate policies and government regulations. Internal auditors can be highly specialized in the fields of banking, electronic data processing, engineering, environmental laws and regulations, health care, insurance premiums, and legal issues. The median salary for internal auditor jobs' was about $50,000, according to a survey conducted in 2004.

Government auditors, on the other hand, obviously are on the other side of the aisle. These auditors examine and maintain government agencies' records and audit private individuals and businesses that participate in activities that are subject to taxation or government regulation. They determine whether these private individuals or organizations' financial reports and accounting practices are accurate or fraudulent. While some government auditors may work for government agencies and directly audit them, others may work for the Internal Revenue Service or a similar agency that audits private individuals, corporations, and groups. Entry-level salaries for federal government auditor jobs in 2004 were around $25,000. As with most government jobs, there is a bit of a give and take present here; while an internal auditor will probably make more money than one with similar skills and experience that works for the government, the auditor employed by the government probably has better benefits and better job security by being part of the bureaucracy.



So what about education? To even start looking for auditor jobs, you need a 4-year Bachelor's degree in accounting or a finance-related field. Increasingly, though, many employers are looking for folks with a Master's degree. An internship is also a good idea, and may very well be required (or simply appropriate) in order for you to earn a Master's degree. An internship can give you on-the-job training and experience that you will never get in a classroom. This not only looks good on your resume and nets you some contacts, but it also prepares you for a career in the field and helps you determine where you want to work and what you want to do. Once you have your degree in hand, you need to get certified. The government requires all accountants to be certified and as specialized accountants, all auditors must therefore be certified as well. You will have to pass a written exam conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) in order to begin your search for auditor jobs. This test takes about two days and serves as a filter of sorts, weeding out those who are not up to snuff. Once you pass, you are a Certified Public Accountant, or CPA.

Once you are a CPA, there is even more room for advancement and certification, all of which have differing exam and degree requirements, depending on what the designation entails. They will all aid you in your search for auditor jobs.
  • The Institute of Management Accountants grants the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation.

  • The Institute of Internal Auditors grants the Certified in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA) designation, the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) designation, the Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP) designation, and the Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA) designation.

  • The Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) grants the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) designation.

  • The Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation grants four designations: Accredited Tax Advisor (ATA), Accredited Business Accountant (ABA), Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP), and Elder Care Specialist (ECS).

  • The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners grants the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) designation.

  • The Association of Government Accountants offers the Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) designation.

  • The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) also confers the Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) designation, Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV) designation, and Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) designation.
Once you attain any of the above certifications, you can expect your worth as an auditor to grow quite a bit. With these designations, you can range farther and wider in your search for auditor jobs and you can expect to be paid much more as well. Employers are always on the lookout for individuals who have taken the initiative and gone out looking for further certification of their own volition. By getting one of more of these certifications, you are demonstrating that you are a go-getter and do-it-yourselfer, two things that are essential if you are going to rise above the pack to become an important figure in your field.

Well, hopefully now you've been given a little insight into what an auditor does. Auditors essentially have an inside view of government agencies' and businesses' financial concerns and practices. Auditors essentially serve as ''financial police'' for these agencies and organizations and are therefore afforded much respect (some call it fear) by the individuals within them. If you have an eye for detail and expect the best behavior from private business and from your government, then maybe you should look into some auditor jobs. Auditors can serve many roles, and if you have a math- or finance-oriented mind you can undoubtedly find the right kind of auditor position for you. All you need is the proper education and certification and you will be able to land a position that can let you feel like you are making a difference, as well as comfortable support you and your family. All you have to do is always keep an eye out for ways to improve yourself and your resume, seize the initiative, and seek further certification to improve your standing.
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