The outlook for the internal audit profession over the next several years is bright. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment for internal auditing professionals will grow 10 percent between 2016 to 2026 — faster than the average for all occupations. And Robert Half’s latest Salary Guide lists internal auditor as one of the hottest roles in the accounting and finance field today.
One reason demand for internal auditors, including those who work on a consulting basis, is so strong is that many organizations across industries are growing — and launching new revenue-generating initiatives. While these pursuits create opportunity, they also can invite risk that internal auditors must help the business to assess and monitor.
Another driver for internal audit hiring is globalization, which the BLS says is helping to fuel demand for skills and services related to international trade and mergers and acquisitions. The complex and continually evolving regulatory compliance environment is yet another factor. Businesses need internal audit professionals with expertise in risk and compliance to help them meet diverse mandates.
Internal auditor salary trends
Many businesses in the United States are stepping up the level of compensation they offer to highly skilled internal auditors to help ensure they can recruit and retain these in-demand specialists. Here’s a look at the midpoint starting salaries for the internal audit positions that are listed in the 2019 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance Professionals:
- Chief audit executive: $175,250
- Internal audit manager: $112,750
- Internal auditor (senior): $87,250
- Internal auditor (1-3 years of experience): $71,000
- Internal auditor (up to 1 year of experience): $46,250
To determine internal auditor salary levels in your area, use our Salary Calculator.
According to the Salary Guide, many businesses seek to hire internal auditors who possess credentials such as:
- Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), offered by The Institute of Internal Auditors (The IIA)
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
Many employers also look for professionals with a master of business administration (MBA), the Salary Guide reports.
For candidates, possessing in-demand certifications and advanced degrees not only can help them to further their careers as internal auditors, but also earn higher compensation.
Wanted: both technical and soft skills
To succeed in a management position in internal audit, professionals need proficiency and experience with common job functions, including:
- Examining financial statements for accuracy
- Ensuring conformance with laws and regulations
- Making recommendations on best practices for financial operations
- Suggesting ways to increase efficiency and control costs
- Reporting and addressing risk management issues
Changes in technology — including the growing use of data analytics in internal audit — are also having an impact on the mix of skills functions need to succeed, according to the 2018 Internal Audit Compensation Study Executive Report from The IIA and Robert Half, which was authored by Robert Half senior executive director Paul McDonald.
Still, technical skills are only part of the equation. A solid range of in-demand soft skills and attributes, including communication abilities and traits like integrity and diplomacy, are often equally important for career success in the internal audit field today.
For those internal audit professionals who want to strengthen their interpersonal skills, the latest Global Internal Audit Common Body of Knowledge (CBOK) report from The IIA Research Foundation (IIARF) suggests that training designed to “improve tools and techniques for working with others” can be a path to improvement. And on-the-job experience coupled with dedicated feedback and coaching from internal auditors is the way to earn what the report cites as the most sought-after skill by internal audit hiring managers: critical thinking.
Looking for internal audit positions? Explore our site to find employment opportunities in your area.
This post has been updated to reflect more current information.