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How to become an internal auditor

Matthew Tarpey | May 2, 2018


Here's what you need to know in order to pursue an internal auditing career.

How do business leaders know if their organization is working as well as it could be? Simple: they hire internal auditors!

Internal auditors closely examine the innermost workings of their company, gathering and analyzing data in an effort to spot ineffective systems, inefficient processes, or failures to comply with established laws and regulations. Should they come across any activities or behaviors that may be harmful or detrimental to the company, they report their findings to the organization’s leadership, and often times provide recommendations on how the company can fix the issue.

Auditors examine everything from operations to IT controls to financial reporting, so they usually need advanced knowledge in the areas of accounting, business, risk and compliance. This internal oversight helps keep the business running smoothly, and gives leadership peace of mind knowing that qualified individuals are always there to ensure the business is performing at peak levels.

How to become an internal auditor

Think a career as an internal auditor might be right for you? Check out the career path for internal auditors (below) to get a better idea of how to get started!

Entry-level internal auditors usually hold a bachelor's degree in business, accounting or finance, although some organizations will make exceptions for highly qualified candidates. Auditors just starting out are most commonly tasked with basic research and analysis and compiling their findings in reports.

Senior internal auditors typically have obtained at least a bachelor's degree, as well as three to five years of related experience. Senior-level auditors continue to provide many of the same duties as entry-level auditors, but can leverage their additional experience to offer more advanced, in-depth solutions.

Internal audit managers have usually worked as an auditor for five to eight years, and some have obtained or are pursuing a master's degree. At this stage in their career, audit managers supervise the work of other auditors and put more of their focus on the planning, testing and implementation of solutions. They also monitor the progress of these activities to ensure everything is working properly and according to plan.

Chief audit executives are more likely to hold a master's degree, but it's their eight years or more of related experience, particularly as a manager, that earns them this top spot. An executive-level auditor oversees the entire internal audit department and typically works closely with other members of the management team on the execution of audit plans.

Internal auditors can boost their credentials by earning certifications, such as a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification or Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) certification. Some auditors also become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Advanced degrees and/or professional certifications very often lead to higher wages, so continuing your education as an internal auditor can be well worth it.

If you’re the analytical type with impeccable attention to detail, a career as an internal auditor may be a perfect fit. And with over a hundred thousand new jobs anticipated by the end of the decade, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more satisfying and secure career path.

Ready to start your career as an internal auditor? Check out these auditor job opportunities!