Auditors work both for accounting firms and for all levels of government. Just about any organization you can imagine needs an auditor. Nonprofits, large, publicly traded corporations, small mom-and pop-businesses, government agencies, and even some individuals employ the skills of auditors.
An auditor will spend the majority of his or her workday going over the details of financial documents and verifying them for accuracy. An auditor must pay attention to the minutia of a client’s financial transactions. Auditing often attracts people who are extremely detail-oriented because paying attention to cash flow and asset allocation all day requires a fine sense of concentration.
Some auditors may work as internal auditors. A business hires an internal auditor to work in-house full-time as opposed to hiring out for an auditor from an accounting firm. Internal auditors are responsible for overseeing the financial documents of all transactions made by their employers. Internal auditors check their employers’ records to be sure that all of the transactions and documentation are done legally. They also may make recommendations on how the business could be run more efficiently or where the business may be able to cut costs. Sometimes, internal auditors specialize within certain industries. For example, if you are particularly interested in advertising, you may want to work as an internal auditor for an advertising company in order to integrate your interest into your accounting career.
If you work for an accounting firm or are self-employed, as opposed to working as an internal auditor, you will likely spend a great deal of your time at your clients’ sites. Because you are reviewing your clients’ documents and inventories, it is often more convenient to do so on their premises, hence auditors spend a lot of time traveling. You may want to explore accounting careers in auditing if you are looking for a career that will give you opportunities to see new places. However, traveling can affect many aspects of your lifestyle, so whether you want to be away from home may influence your preference in accounting careers. Traveling can be tiresome and take time away from family, but it can also lead you to see something new and expand your accounting career.
Auditing also requires you to use a lot of technology and stay up to date on current software. Most auditing is done using spreadsheets and specific programs designed to track data. Auditing technology evolves over time, so accounting careers in auditing fit well for those who enjoy learning to use new technology.
Many auditors begin their accounting careers working for large accounting firms. Entry-level salaries at these firms generally range between $50,000 and $60,000 per year, but that may vary based on location and whether you are beginning your accounting career with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Within about six years, you may be eligible for a managerial position if you remain at a large company. Managerial salaries average close to $100,000 per year, but again, that may vary. Once you have been with an accounting firm for over ten years, you may able to become a partner. Salaries for partners can exceed $200,000 per year in some cases. However, a very small percentage of entry-level employees reach the partner level. This may partially be due to the fact that many auditors decide to go into business for themselves.