How to Become a Financial Auditor

Oct 20, 2021

Find out how to become an auditor. Research the education requirements associated with this profession, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in auditing and accounting.

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Should I Be a Financial Auditor?

A financial auditor reviews an organization's financial statements and internal accounting to determine whether it is healthy and operating successfully. They also keep track of a company's or individual's finances and ensure that taxes are paid properly and on time.

Auditor Key Skills and Experiences

Financial auditors need to be very detail oriented. They keep track of finances, taxes and must provide documentation and communicate information with their clients and government officials. Some important skills for financial auditors include:

  • Attention to detail
  • Strong oral communication
  • Strong written communication
  • Good mathematics skills
  • Professionalism

Auditor Job Duties

Job duties of a financial auditor include:

  • The organization and maintenance of financial records
  • The preparation of taxes each year for the company and its employees
  • The periodic inspection of accounting books and practices
  • The development of ideas to decrease financial waste

Most financial auditors work on a full-time basis, although overtime is common, especially during tax season. They work in office settings and sometimes traveling to clients' locations. Few physical demands and little personal risk is associated with working as a financial auditor, but they must be able to stay focused on paperwork and numbers for hours at a time.

Auditor Qualifications

Auditors are required to have a bachelor's degree in a field like accounting. Find out more details about auditor qualifications and the career in general in the table below.

Degree Level Bachelor's degree required; master's degree may be preferred
Degree Field Accounting
Licensure and/or Certification Typically voluntary; many auditors are also CPAs
Key Skills Math and organizational skills; attention to detail
Median Annual Salary (May 2019) $71,550 (for Auditors and Accountants)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida Tech Online

Steps to Become A Financial Auditor

If you're wondering how to become a financial auditor, the following steps can help you along this career path.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Auditor training programs include earning a bachelor's degree to start, as most accounting firms require a bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Accounting and the B.S. in Business Administration (BSBA) with a major in accounting are two common degrees for auditors. Some BSBA programs offer a variety of accounting concentrations within the major; these concentrations often include topics relevant to individuals planning careers as auditors such as taxation, auditing, financial accounting, or governmental accounting. While both the B.S. and BSBA programs include auditing courses in accounting, taxation, and auditing, a BSBA program may include additional coursework in management, marketing, and finance.

Aspiring auditors with a graduate degree in accounting, business, or finance will stand out from the competition, and some colleges and universities now offer master's degree programs specifically in auditing. While a master's degree is not necessarily required, most states expect 30 hours of coursework beyond a bachelor's degree, and many schools offer a 5-year program for a combined bachelor's and master's degree to meet this requirement. Master's degree programs in accounting include courses such as auditing, taxation, operations, and finance. Even if one does not earn a master's degree, many states require a certain number of college credits beyond a bachelor's degree to be eligible for certified public accountant (CPA) certification.

Step 2: Earn Certification

Auditing training continues by earning a certification. One certification available for aspiring financial auditors is a CPA certification, which is offered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). A CPA is earned by passing an intensive exam and meeting additional state requirements. The CPA examination is the only uniform requirement. Education and experience vary and differ by candidate and jurisdiction.

Step 3: Work With a Mentor and Earn Continuing Education Credits

The auditor career path also includes continuing education. All newly-hired auditors must be supervised by a professional with experience and the proper credentials. Accounting and auditing firms place new hires with a seasoned employee for a training period. Before a license can be renewed, most states require accountants and auditors to complete a certain number of continuing education hours. Many professional organizations offer continuing education lectures, courses, and seminars.

Step 4: Seek Additional Certifications

Once an auditor earns CPA certification, he or she can attain many other certifications through the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). For example, candidates may choose to earn certification as a Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA) or a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), allowing them to compete for more specialized positions. The IIA offers a total of five professional certifications.

Key Takeaways

  • Aspiring auditors need at least a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, or business
  • Many auditors obtain the certified public accountant credential
  • Auditors must continue their education after certification
  • Important skills include attention to detail, math and organization
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