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The Career Path for an Internal Auditor Role

Published on Friday, 25 Sep 2015

With the growing demand for companies to be financially efficient, internal auditors are becoming highly sought after in the corporate world. As the first line of defense for public and private ventures, internal auditors help companies’ detect and deflect accounting errors before they have a chance to snowball into a potentially damaging situation. With the right educational background, training, and experience, a career in auditing is both achievable- and-lucrative. The pay scale for entry level auditors is typically around, $50,000 USD per year and upwards of $100,000 USD per annum for candidates with a few years of experience. 

What do you need to become a successful internal auditor? Firstly, a bachelor degree is is considered the minimum requirement for this type of work. However, to be truly successful in the industry, those looking into an auditing career are advised to acquire additional certifications. The internationally recognised Institute of Internal Auditors offers four designations: 

1. Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) 
2. Certification in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA) 
3. Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP) 
4. Certified Financial Service Officer (CFSO) 

After five years of experience, practitioners are eligible for the additional designation of the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA). And candidates seeking higher salaries further down their  career should obtain a MBA degree in the field of Accounting or Finance. In other words, prospective auditors should be well versed in their desired industry. 

While education is certainly important, internal auditors can come from a variety of different backgrounds. Many start in public accounting or a business background, where they are able to hone a similar skill-set. Seasoned accountants will often find that they undertake internal auditing work with previous clients. Recent graduates have the ability to be scooped up by corporations who are desperately seeking auditors. 

Career progression from -an entry level internal auditing position typically leads to management or leadership positions within their department. On a wider scale, climbing  the corporate ladder may result in candidates earning the title of Chief Audit Executive. A vital position within any company, these individuals report directly to the  CEO or CFO and, due to their intimate knowledge of the company's inner workings, tend to garner great respect. Internal auditors may find it easy to transition to related roles, as the skills acquired from an auditing career are transferable to other areas. 

Achieving excellence in the field of internal auditing requires a “jack of all trades” mentality. Being a high profile position, internal auditors may find themselves in front of high ranking board members. Effective presentation skills is also required. Those with a fear of public speaking need not apply. Though it might seem intimidating to present findings to the heads of corporations, findings that yield greater returns to the company and cut down on inefficiencies will be greatly rewarded. 

On top of this, successful internal auditors can sometimes progress to becoming a company’s CEO due to their commitment to learning the ins and outs of the business so thoroughly. In the financial world, the ability to add to the bottom line by fostering greater efficiency and addressing errors before they hurt the company’s reputation is vital. It is this quality that makes these individuals the leaders they are. 

The beauty of the auditor role is that candidates enter at any time during their career. And considering the transferable skills that can be acquired in this role, transitioning to a new role or starting a new career path is  possible in the future. Ultimately, this role creates business savvy individuals who have a key insight into the inner workings of corporations. If success and company wide recognition are your professional goals, consider pursuing a career in internal auditing. 

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