Employers across the country are hungry for auditors, among the top positions in today’s competitive hiring market. Companies increasingly offer perks like flexible scheduling options to attract experienced candidates, and internal auditor salary ranges remain strong.
In this era of growth opportunities, internal and external auditors are key to efficient businesses operations. They must anticipate and respond to a constant stream of new challenges — many of which deliver uncertain and still-unfolding risk implications, from emerging technologies and new auditing requirements and standards to rapidly evolving business conditions.
An auditor can work in a public or private setting, in a small or large company, and in financial services. As more organizations find out just how critical a role this plays, the internal audit career path becomes even more fertile.
Auditor salary expectations
The room for growth in this sector is large. The 2019 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance Professionals has projections for internal auditors and auditors in public accounting with less than one and up to three years of experience, senior auditors, managers and directors. 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.
Of course, there are more jobs available in some cities than in others — and geography also plays a role in how high compensation can go. Read on to learn about the demand and salaries for auditors in five different metropolitan areas.
Internal auditors in New York City
“Internal auditors are especially needed in the fields of real estate, technology, financial services, media and advertising,” says Keith Feinberg, director of Permanent Placement Services for Robert Half in New York. He also notes that employers here look for candidates who have done control testing across multiple types of businesses and have new ideas for policies and procedures. “Other assets are soft skills, international experience and secondary language skills,” Feinberg adds.
Internal auditor salary in New York — The midpoint starting salary for an internal auditor in corporate accounting with one to three years of experience is projected by the 2019 Salary Guide to be $99,755.
Feinberg adds that a master’s degree and CPA or certified internal auditor (CIA) designations can boost compensation. Salaries in New York — 40.5 percent higher than the national average — reflect not only the high cost of living but also the high demand for talent, which Feinberg describes as “extremely robust.”
Auditors in Orlando, Fla.
Kathleen Downs, a recruiting manager for Robert Half in Orlando, says central Florida has a great demand for general auditors with several years of experience. Preferred qualifications include a CPA or CIA certification, excellent Excel skills and the ability to interpret technical accounting information. “Candidates who are willing to travel and work long hours during the busy season stand out,” Downs adds.
Auditor salary in Orlando — The midpoint salary for an auditor in public accounting with one to three years of experience is $52,520. A senior auditor can earn a midpoint salary of $64,892, which can go a long way in a city where major living expenses can be less than half of those in New York.
Internal and external auditors in Sacramento, Calif.
“We often have several internal and external auditor roles, and they are always very difficult to find candidates for,” says Shantel Poole, vice president and director of Permanent Placement Services for Robert Half in Sacramento. “Employers are looking for people with Excel experience, strong analytical skills and the personality to work with senior leaders, executives and managers across the organization.”
Must-have qualifications include an accounting degree and a CPA or CIA certification. Nice-to-haves are three to five years of experience in internal or external auditing and multi-industry experience.
Auditor salary in Sacramento — The cost of living here runs a little high in the Robert Half Career City Index, but auditor salaries easily keep pace with it. The midpoint for an auditor in public accounting with one to three years of experience is $55,120, according to the 2019 Salary Guide. For more seasoned candidates at the senior level, this increases to $68,105, and in management, it's significantly higher.
In corporate accounting, an internal auditor in Sacramento with a year or less of experience can expect a 2019 midpoint salary of $49,025. The midpoint salary for a senior internal auditor is $92,485.
Auditors in Los Angeles
Ameri Ramirez, vice president of Permanent Placement Services for Robert Half in Pasadena, says virtually every public accounting firm in the area wants to hire, but there are very few candidates available. In addition to a CPA or CIA designation, employers here want candidates who can pull long hours when necessary. “Anyone with two to three busy seasons in public audit is easily placed,” Ramirez adds.
Auditor salary in Los Angeles — The midpoint salary for auditors in public accounting here with one to three years of experience is $68,640, with salaries reaching $118,800 and above for those in audit management. Beyond demand, the high cost of living in this area drives up auditor salaries here.
External auditors in Cleveland
“People with accounting degrees and three to five years of experience in public accounting are the most in demand in this area,” says Scott Saunders, branch manager for Robert Half in Cleveland. Manufacturing is a hot local industry, and candidates can set themselves apart by showcasing experience with one of the Big Four firms or another large company. Foreign language skills and a CPA designation are also valuable.
Auditor salary in Cleveland — Cleveland’s market variance is minus-4 percent, which brings the midpoint salary for an auditor in public accounting with up to three years experience to $49,920. For a senior auditor, that increases to $61,680 at the midpoint, according to the Salary Guide.
Duties and expectations
Interested in learning more about the role of internal auditors? The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) provides governing standards that each internal auditor must follow. Internal auditor jobs entail the following functions:
- Examining financial statements for accuracy and conformance with laws and regulations
- Assessing financial operations and making best-practices recommendations to management
- Suggesting ways to reduce costs, enhance revenue and improve profits
- Reporting risk management issues and internal operations deficiencies to management
Professional experience and skills
As more and more companies become aware of the value of adding an auditor to their teams, the demand for this highly competent and skilled role continues to rise. Internal auditor jobs require a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field, although some companies may prefer a master's degree in accounting or business administration.
As highlighted by a white paper co-published by Robert Half and the IIA, hiring managers are looking for seven nontechnical attributes:
- Integrity — due to the delicate and sophisticated nature of auditor jobs
- Relationship building — in order to successfully collaborate with other auditing professionals
- Teamwork — to collaborate across departments with coworkers
- Partnering skills — to balance customer service, leadership and regulatory requirements
- Communication skills — both verbal and written, for relaying messages and presenting data effectively
- Diversity — to view problems through various perspectives results in smarter solutions
- Thirst for continuous learning — to stay current
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This post has been updated to reflect more current information.