Want to strike fear into the heart of grown men and women? Tell ‘em you’re an auditor. You thought Freddy from “A Nightmare on Elm Street” was a nightmare? Okay, so being an auditor is not that bad. In fact, auditors play an important role in making sure businesses and government run smoothly. Auditors help keep public records in order and up to date. Most auditors prepare, analyze, and verify financial documents for government, business and individuals. But not all auditors work with numbers. Some verify systems are working up to code, some check to make sure a company’s documentation is in order. Many auditors are internal auditors, a combination of government accountants and auditors. Management accountants (industrial, corporate or private accountants) work on the financial information of their respective companies. They prepare financial reports and analyze the information to help corporate leaders make sound business decisions. Auditors that work for the Federal Government maintain records for government agencies and audit businesses and people who are subject to government regulation and taxation. A large number of auditors are licensed Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), Public Accountants (PAs), Registered Public Accountants (RPAs), and Accounting Practitioners (APs). There are many types of highly specialized auditors, such as electronic data processing, environmental, engineering, legal, insurance premium, bank, and health care auditors. Computers provide quick information, making them a key tool for auditors. Special software greatly reduces the tedious work associated with record keeping. People planning a career in auditing have to know their numbers. They have to be able to analyze, compare, and interpret facts and figures quickly. They must have excellent communication skills, must be good at working with people and computers, and should have a high standard of integrity. Most auditors work 40-hour weeks –- more during tax season -- usually in cubicle constructed offices. Some employed by the government or private firms may travel extensively to perform audits at a person’s home or place of business. Because of the reaction the word auditor can elicit from most, auditors working with the public often deal with highly nervous and sometimes stressed people.
Most auditors need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. If you want to work for Uncle Sam, you need 4 years of college, or an equivalent combination of education and experience. Many schools offer students an opportunity to obtain experience through summer or part-time internships with public accounting or business firms. More and more employees prefer applicants with a master’s degree in accounting or a master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting. Most states require auditors to be licensed. All CPAs must take a test in order to get their certification. The learning doesn’t stop once you have your degree and certification, however. Nearly all states require auditors to complete several hours of continuing professional education before their licenses can be renewed.
Auditors design internal control systems and analyze financial data. Other professions that require the same skill set include appraisers, budget officers, loan officers, financial analysts and managers, bank officers, actuaries, underwriters, tax collectors and revenue agents, FBI special agents, securities sales representatives, and purchasing agents. Some auditors are full-time college and university faculty; others teach part time while working as self-employed accountants, or as salaried accountants for private industry or government.