An audit is an official inspection of an individual’s or organization’s accounts, typically by an independent body. Where an accountant would work on financial documents for a client or business, an auditor comes in after and inspects those documents to ensure their accuracy. They also provide unbiased reports on the quality of the company’s financial statements.
Watch a Video:
How to Become an Auditor
You would need to gain a bachelor’s degree in accounting or similar field. During college, you can take more focused courses in auditing. From there, you would most likely want to take the Certified Public Accounting (or CPA) exam (link opens in a new tab). Being a CPA may even be a requirement to even gain a foot in the door. At this point, you can gain on-the-job experience working with and reviewing financial statements. You may start out as an accountant even and then move into an auditor position.
There are certifications specific to auditing that are issued by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) though attaining one of these certifications may not be a requirement for a job. The The American Institute of CPAs (or AICPA) has information for those considering a career in accounting.
Job Description of an Auditor
Auditors review financial statements often provided by a companies accounting team. Along with reviewing the financial books for quality, auditors also check for any mismanagement of a companies funds. There are internal auditors, which are hired by the company they will be reviewing the financial statements for. There are also external auditors. An external auditor performs the same tasks as an internal auditor, but these auditors are employed by a third party to ensure their financial report is independent and unbiased. This is a significant distinction when preparing reports for investors or potential investors.
Accountant Job Posting
Let’s look at a job description posted by the Department of Energy. This job announcement is looking for a person to perform the following responsibilities:
- Conduct performance and financial audits.
- Perform systematic examinations and appraisals of financial related records, reports, management controls, and policies and practices which reflect the financial condition of DOE organizations and activities, contractors, and grantees, including state and local governments, laboratories, universities, and private industrial and business operations.
- Prepare work papers/reports to document the audit process including audit objectives and related conclusion, deficiencies, and recommendations for corrective action.
- Assist higher level auditors in determining areas of high risk to focus on during the audit, and other related assigned duties.
This position was posted to run 01/04/2019 until 01/18/2019 with a salary range of $41,505 to $113,812 per year on USAjobs.gov (link opens in a new tab). USAjobs.gov is an official website of the United States government and part of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
Free Teacher and Student Resources
The University of British Columbia offers a free Introduction to Accounting course on EdX.org (link opens in a new tab) with the option to pay a small fee if you want to receive a verified certificate upon completion of the course.
By taking this course, you’ll learn:
- Understand who in a company uses financial statements and for what purpose.
- Recognize what counts as good financial information and what lies behind it.
- Evaluate a business’s liquidity, solvency and inventory management.
- Basic understanding of the key principles of financial accounting.
- How to analyze financial statements to make better business decisions.
- The structure and purpose of Income Statements, Balance Sheets and Cash Flow Statements.
Auditor Career Video Transcript
What’s the difference between an accountant and an auditor? Basically, accountants keep track of an organization’s money, and auditors check their work. But there’s much more to the work than simply balancing the books. These financial professionals make sure the organization’s finances operate properly. They are involved in analyzing financial information and records, and preparing reports related to budgeting, cost control, employee compensation, new product development, and of course calculating taxes.
If money’s involved, accountants and auditors are too. In fact, so many areas need accounting and auditing services that many professionals opt to specialize. Some become tax specialists. Others become employee benefits experts. While still others concentrate on preparing the income statements and balance sheets every publicly-held corporation must file.
Auditors and accountants work in a wide range of industries from accounting companies to hospitals, insurance firms to manufacturing. To take full advantage of the many opportunities for accountants and auditors, you need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting. To become a Certified Public Accountant (or CPA0), in many states you will need 150 hours of college coursework to qualify to take the state licensing exam. As long as there is money to spend, accountants and auditors will be needed to make sure it’s accurately recorded.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accountants and Auditors.
National Center for O*NET Development. 13-2011.02. O*NET OnLine.
The video is Public Domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.