Thinking of specializing in internal auditing or making a move toward the internal audit career path? Internal auditing is a profession with a history that goes back to ancient civilizations, and it’s a function that continues to evolve with the swift pace of global regulatory changes and compliance challenges.
Why the demand? It’s the internal auditors who are responsible for providing assurance on corporate governance, risk management, internal control and operations, in all types of business conditions.
As the 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide points out, the internal auditor is one of the top 10 hot 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.
So what else would convince you to consider the internal audit career path?
1. Demand is high
As organizations place more and more emphasis on compliance, employers have internal auditor jobs to fill, and many are willing to train them to fill specific needs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the number of auditor jobs to grow 11 percent from 2014 to 2014, faster than the average for all occupations.
Potential jobs on the career path include positions as entry-level internal auditors, such as auditing specialists, risk assessment specialists, lead internal auditors, financial analysts, internal controls auditors and information systems auditors — to lead internal auditors, such as senior internal auditors, and internal audit supervisors, such as audit managers, risk managers and internal audit directors — and finally to internal audit executives, such as finance directors, CFOs and controllers.
2. Salaries are strong
Managers are offering top job candidates and employees higher salaries and, when they can, more scheduling flexibility to help them achieve better work-life balance.
The Salary Guide projects that an internal auditor with up to a year of experience can expect a 2018 salary of $45,000 at the midpoint. The compensation goes up to $69,000 after one to three years of experience and $85,000 for a senior internal auditor.
The midpoint salary for an internal auditor manager is expected to be $110,000, and for a chief audit executive or internal audit director, the Salary Guide estimates a $175,000 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.
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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 credentials that can be required later on, companies often look for finance and accounting 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 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 are transferrable to many other areas.
Find your next internal auditor job
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Editor's note: This post was updated recently to reflect information from the 2018 Salary Guide.