4 Reasons the Internal Audit Career Path Is so Brilliant

By Robert Half September 26, 2019 at 2:00pm

Thinking of specializing in internal auditing or making a move toward the internal audit career path? Internal auditing is a profession with a long history, and it’s a function that continues to evolve with the swift pace of global regulatory changes and compliance challenges.

It’s internal auditors who are responsible for providing assurance on corporate governance, risk management, internal control and operations, in all types of business conditions.

So what are the most convincing arguments for taking the internal audit career path?

1. Demand is high

As the 2020 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance Professionals points out, the internal auditor is one of the in-demand finance and accounting positions in today's hiring market. Risk and compliance concerns are driving hiring at many companies, particularly in highly regulated industries like banking, insurance, healthcare and financial services.

As organizations push to improve internal controls and transparency, they are also looking for internal auditors and information technology (IT) auditors. Many are also willing to train to fill specific needs.

Potential jobs on the career path include entry-level internal auditors, such as auditing specialists, risk assessment specialists, lead internal auditors, financial analysts, internal controls auditors and information systems auditors. Other positions are lead internal auditors, such as senior internal auditors, and internal audit supervisors, such as audit managers, risk managers and internal audit directors. Finally, there are the internal audit executives, including finance directors, CFOs and controllers.

2. Salaries are strong

The salary midpoint (or median national salary) for internal auditors in corporate accounting with up to a year of experience is $48,000. The compensation goes up to $73,500 after one to three years of experience, and $90,250 for a senior internal auditor, according to the Salary Guide.

The salary midpoint for an internal auditor manager is expected to be $116,500, and for a chief audit executive or internal audit director, the Salary Guide estimates a $185,250 salary at the midpoint.

The salaries listed in the Salary Guide reflect starting pay only and are based on actual placements throughout the United States, as well as an analysis of the market conditions. At the midpoint, candidates have average experience with the necessary skills to meet the job requirements.

Adjust salaries for internal auditor jobs in your city with our online Salary Calculator.

3. It's in the corporate spotlight

Internal auditors gain an in-depth, up-close understanding of the processes, policies and procedures of an organization. Partnering with management, they are able to provide invaluable operational knowledge and industry insights to companies, with frequent exposure to the board. That experience may shape the rest of their careers.

Financial services institutions also rely heavily on their internal audit teams to help secure transparency and accountability throughout their organizations. The more complex regulatory environment means businesses must balance revenue-generating activities with the need to meet regulatory directives, implement new capital structures and manage institutional risk.

Common responsibilities of an internal auditor include the following:

  • Analysis of operations and procedures
  • Compliance review
  • Evaluation of internal controls
  • Safeguard assurances

4. It's a career path you can take

The first step is to get your bachelor’s degree, which is required for any level of internal auditor. Many people start out in public accounting before they move to internal auditing. But others jump right in to the field and find that career progression from an entry-level internal auditing position can lead to management positions, such as chief audit executive on up to CEO.

As far as finance and accounting certifications that can be required later on, companies often look for candidates who have completed various certification programs, which require a combination of education, examination and work experience. Some of those designations include the following:

  • Certified internal auditor (CIA)
  • Certified fraud examiner (CFE)
  • Certified public accountant (CPA)
  • Certified information systems auditor (CISA)
  • Certified government auditing professional (CGAP)

More and more organizations are finding out just how critical a role internal auditing plays in this world of global regulatory changes and rapidly emerging technologies. And more accounting and finance professionals are finding that this business-savvy role of internal auditing gives them key insights into the inner workings of companies, with skills that can transfer to other areas — and a compelling career path.

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