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Auditing

Auditing Degree Programs

Organizations large and small rely on auditing professionals to avoid money mismanagement, waste, fraud and other alarming problems. Those interested in joining the field of auditing can begin pursuing a career path with a college education. Schools generally don't offer dedicated auditing degrees. Instead, students typically learn about auditing procedures and strategies by majoring in accounting and taking courses in auditing. Some accounting programs allow students to specialize or minor in the fields of internal auditing or information systems auditing.

Accounting programs are available at multiple degree levels, from postsecondary certificates to graduate degrees. Bachelor's or master's programs often allow for deeper specialization in auditing, however. In addition to traditional campus-based instruction, online accounting degrees are offered by some schools. Others may allow students to earn degrees through a hybrid format. Schools may also offer part-time programs, self-paced courses and flexible start dates.

During their auditing studies, students typically learn how to detect fraud in financial statements, conduct effective interviews, perform audits with the aid of computer software, and adhere to best-practice auditing standards and ethics. Information systems auditing programs can help students develop technical skills in areas such as database systems, programming, systems analysis and computer forensics. Auditing students can also expect to learn business and accounting principles in subjects like taxation, financial reporting and cost accounting.

Accounting/auditing schools have their own admissions requirements. Some graduate programs may insist that students have a bachelor's degree in a business-related field, for example, while others may consider a high GRE score or GPA a satisfactory alternative. It's best to contact individual schools and speak with an admissions counselor.

Auditing Careers

Auditing professionals evaluate a company's financial activities, which can include their financial statements, accounting information systems and internal controls. Some auditing professionals may also review non-financial procedures as part of their jobs. In general, they check for errors, inefficiencies, and potential fraudulence for the sake of accurate recordkeeping and proficient operations.

Auditing services can range from ensuring the figures on a single balance sheet are properly calculated to company-wide audits conducted by a large team. Those in the auditing field may find themselves working for government entities, major accounting firms, small businesses or nonprofits. Some may even decide to pursue entrepreneurship and become self-employed.

Several types of auditing specialists exist, including auditing clerks, internal auditors, external auditors and information technology auditors. See the table below for more information on each position.

Accounting Position

Common Duties

Typical Education Requirements

Certification Options

State Licensure Required?

Auditing Clerk

  • Reviews financial numbers and reports for accuracy.
  • Gives findings to accountants so miscalculations can be resolved.

High-school diploma, but a college degree may improve job prospects.

  • Certified Bookkeeper from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers.
  • Six certification options from The National Bookkeepers Association

No

Internal Auditors

  • Audit their own company, reviewing both financial and non-financial processes.
  • Ensure internal operations are compliant, efficient and risk averse.

Bachelor's Degree

  • The Institute of Internal Auditors offers four certifications: the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), the Certified in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA), the Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP) and the Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA)
  • Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

Only if becoming a Certified Public Accountant

CPA licensure required if filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission

External Auditors

  • Provide third-party assessment of a company's financial statements, reviewing them for accuracy and potential fraudulence.
  • Help shareholders and other external parties make informed decisions about a company's financial position.

Bachelor's Degree

  • The Institute of Internal Auditors offers four certifications: the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), the Certified in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA), the Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP) and the Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA)
  • Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

Only if becoming a Certified Public Accountant

Information Technology Auditor

  • Analyze a company's computer accounting systems to make sure they are providing accurate financial data.

Bachelor's Degree

  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) from ISACA.
  • Certified Information Technology Professional from American Institute of CPAs (Requires CPA licensure).

Only if becoming a Certified Public Accountant

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012

While pursuing a career as an auditor or auditing clerk may be the most obvious choice, students who have studied auditing in college could also potentially find work as a public accountant, financial investigator, budget analyst and similar positions.

Job Outlook and Salary in Auditing

With the recession and Wall Street's scandals still fresh on minds of many American investors, financial transparency and honesty have become a high priority for many corporations. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, this movement -- along with the rise of stricter financial regulations -- is contributing to the demand for qualified accountants and auditors. In addition, corporations will likely rely more heavily on auditing services as financial lenders are becoming much more selective with their borrowers.

For additional information on the job outlook of auditing professionals, along with average salaries, refer to the table below.

Accounting Position

Mean Annual Wage United States

(May 2012)

Projected # of New Jobs

United States

(2010-2020)

Projected Job Growth Rate

United States

(2010-2020)

Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks

$36,640

259,000

14% (Equal to national average)

Accountants and Auditors

$71,040

190,700

16% (Above national average)

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012; Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, 2013

* Salaries and employment opportunities may vary based on experience, education, location and other factors.

Sources:

Accountants and Auditors, May 2012 Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013

http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132011.htm

Accountants and Auditors, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Business-and-Financial/Accountants-and-auditors.htm

Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks, May 2012 Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013

http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes433031.htm

Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/bookkeeping-accounting-and-auditing-clerks.htm