Some of the most exciting jobs in the field of accounting are in auditing. Auditors are the financial specialists who review and examine financial data and documents for accuracy. However, auditors aren’t just checking an accountant’s work. Rather, they’re looking for issues that point to problems such as fraud or embezzlement or opportunities to improve an organization’s productivity and increase its profits. Auditors closely examine cash flow and how an organization accounts for its funds. Within the field of auditing, there are different functions an auditor might fulfill. External auditor, internal auditor, information technology auditor and government auditing jobs are among the most prevalent and popular career opportunities with a degree in auditing.
An external auditor is also called an independent auditor or outside auditor, because this auditing professional does not work for the company he or she is investigating. Independent auditors start the process of auditing a company’s financial statements by examining the organization’s internal controls. Then the auditor goes through a series of thorough auditing procedures, such as observing the company’s operations, inspecting its ledgers and financial records and asking questions of company personnel, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). At the end of the audit, the external auditor should be able to give his or her professional opinion in writing based on this evidence as to whether the company’s financial statements comply with the laws, regulations and standards for financial reporting.
External auditors are in consistent demand because of these laws and regulations. All publicly held and traded companies must file financial statements and reports with the SEC. Federal securities laws require that these reports and statements meet the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, a particular set of accounting standards. The laws also require that certain financial documents, like annual reports and some of the statements issued to shareholders, go through an audit conducted by an external auditor.
The work of external auditors is important for investors, banks, creditors and companies and members of the public who engage in business with the company being audited, the SEC reported.
Internal auditing refers to auditing work done by a financial specialist within the organization. An internal auditor looks for discrepancies and errors in financial documents for several possible purposes. Certainly, one task of internal auditors is to identify intentional mismanagement of an organization’s funds, such as fraud, embezzlement or illegal financial activity. However, internal auditors also search for ways to eliminate unintentional mismanagement, like wasted resources and funds.
In some ways, internal auditors may act almost as business consultants, helping managers identify opportunities to improve productivity, profitability and efficiency. An internal auditor might perform what’s called an operational audit, in which the auditor reviews the company’s business operations and examines how closely its day-to-day operations adhere to company policies. Based on this review, an internal auditor may recommend changing procedures or developing new policies and procedures that answer a previously unexplored question or need.
Because internal auditors are working for, and thus accountable to, their own employers, there aren’t regulations that govern the practice of internal auditing, the BLS reported. Instead, internal auditors typically follow “generally accepted guidelines” set forth by The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). Attaining a professional certification or other credential can improve your career prospects in internal auditing. The most well-known credential in the field of internal auditing is Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), a globally accepted designation offered by IIA. However, the IIA also offers other specialized certifications and qualifications, such as the Qualification in Internal Audit Leadership (QIAL), the Certification in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA), the Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA) credential, the Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP) designation and the Certification in Risk Management Assurance® (CRMA®) distinction.
If you’re interested in a job in internal auditing, then you should look for work with large companies or firms. These large organizations, rather than small firms, are likely to employ teams of internal auditors.
Information Technology Auditors
As technology has evolved, so has the field of accounting. Computer systems play a more important role in financial reporting today than ever before. Because this information technology infrastructure is so important for modern accounting, there are highly specialized accounting professionals called information technology auditors who combine knowledge of computers and auditing procedures to inspect the controls for a company’s computer systems.
Students of information systems audit and control degrees can also have jog titles such as business systems consultant, security architect, information systems auditor, technical research manager, risk and assurance manager and information technology director.
Government Jobs in Auditing
It probably comes as no surprise that many auditors are brought in by the government to investigate corporations and individuals. For example, auditors for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) perform audits of individuals and organization’s tax documents.
What you might not know is that auditors also work for government entities in positions that require them to perform audits of government financial data, infrastructure, systems and processes. For example, the U.S. Government Accountability Office employs financial auditors, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employs auditors in the Office of the Inspector General to audit CIA programs and activities. Auditors and accountants also find work in government entities within the Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Communications Commission and Interstate Commerce Commission.
There is a special set of guidelines, called the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards, used as the framework for auditing government entities. These standards are also called the Yellow Book.