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How to Become an Internal Auditor

Career News September 3, 2013

No, you’re not working for the Central Intelligence Agency, if you have the CIA designation. Rather, you have become a Certified Internal Auditor and qualify as an asset for businesses and organizations all over the globe. Internal auditors are hired privately by a firm’s own accountants to monitor operating results and verify financial records. The auditor will evaluate internal controls with the purpose of making sure the business meets all of the industry and government regulations.

The internal auditor helps in improving the efficiency of the business by eliminating wastefulness of its funds and resources. An operational audit detects inefficiencies, such as excessive paperwork or even environmental factors that reduce the company’s abilities to make profits.

Becoming an Internal Auditor

Another function of an internal auditor is to detect fraud. Small businesses lose millions of dollars each year to employee theft, from cash theft, misuse of company credit cards, skimming from customer payments and in payroll transactions. The internal audit identifies control problems, reporting on suspected fraud and embezzlement, and seeks ways to correct unintentional lapses, so the company remains in compliance with the legalities of external audits.

Although they are employees of the company, internal auditors do not audit themselves or their department. This is done by independent auditors. To become an internal auditor, you will need a minimum of four years in post-secondary education. Classes should focus primarily on accounting, finance and business administration. After the completion of formal disciplines, the prospective internal auditor must complete the CPA exam. Nearly all companies require that their internal auditor is a Certified Public Accountant.

College Information and Internal Auditor Outlook

Another way of becoming an internal auditor after passing your four year study program is by enrolling in a Certified Internal Auditor program. CIA applicants will need a copy of their degree or official transcript, a letter from the university confirming their degree and a letter from the evaluation services that confirmed the degree. CIA candidates must gain a minimum of 24 months of work experience or the equivalent. A master’s degree can substitute for twelve of the mandatory 24 months.

The CIA program has a global referendum. The Global Board of Directors has offered alternatives for CIA applicants who do not have a bachelor’s degree. A candidate may have two years of formal studies and five years of verified internal auditing experience, or seven years of verified auditing or its equivalent.

An internal auditor discovers the irregularities in a business before they come to the attention of an external auditor. The internal auditor helps the company remain in compliance with government regulations by examining the policies and procedures on a regular basis, thereby minimizing the chances of fraud.

The Beginning of a Long Career

Internal auditors usually begin their careers by working as a junior auditor. The junior auditor works as part of a team, providing assistance while learning the functions of an auditing role. With a few years of experience, the junior auditor is promoted to the capacity of an internal auditor. The salary of an internal auditor averages $48,000 a year with the top ten percent of internal auditors earning $102,000 a year.

Although there are many potential opportunities for internal auditors, many use the experience to further advance their careers, choosing other roles such as that of a financial controller or a group accountant. While small businesses cannot afford to hire a private internal auditor, many firms offer the services on a yearly basis to help them resolve all legal matters and maintain efficiency in running their businesses.

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