Auditor job profile (with roles and responsibilities)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 9 August 2022

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The financial management and legal compliance of a company is a complex process that requires a particular set of skills to navigate. Auditors provide their knowledge of reporting processes and accounting practices to ensure that businesses manage risk and follow compliance rules. Learning more about the role of an auditor can help you determine whether it suits your interests and career goals.

In this article, we define an auditor job profile, review how much you can earn while working in the role, explore the roles and responsibilities for auditors, discover the necessary requirements to work as an auditor and highlight the skills needed to help you determine if the role suits you.

What is an auditor job profile?

A typical auditor job profile involves a financial professional helping to ensure an organisation's compliance, validity and legality of financial records. Often, more senior auditors take on the role of an advisor, helping firms avoid legal and financial risks. These professionals can help set the direction of the overall financial strategy of a firm. For example, they may find new methods for cost savings. Auditor jobs are typically part of corporate accounting departments or within specialised firms.

Related: A guide to accounting vs auditing (including skills)

Key job activities of an auditor can include:

  • gathering, organising, formatting and preparing financial data in spreadsheets or specialised software

  • analysing the cash flows and balance sheets of a firm

  • measuring and communicating the levels of financial risk taken on by an organisation

  • studying and improving the workflows for reporting and management of the finances of a firm

  • ensuring the organisation implements best practices in creating, storing and accessing financial information

  • creating reports for management, or as part of independent auditing teams

  • helping management and organisational leadership understand financial risks or benefits of certain financial decisions of a firm

Related: Auditor skills for ensuring financial accuracy and transparency

How much can you get paid as an auditor?

As with many professions, your salary can vary based on your location, level of seniority and experience and the size of the company. Working for a smaller firm can mean a smaller salary now, but a greater degree of responsibility and experience can help you grow your expertise quickly. The national average salary for an audit associate is £27,695 per year. The national average salary for an experienced auditor is £30,400 per year.

Auditor roles and responsibilities

An auditor gathers and analyses the financial data in private and public firms. As an auditor, you examine an organisation's accounts, identify risks and potential problems and assess reporting systems. Beyond just gathering hard data, you may interview and observe business processes directly. Often, an extensive knowledge of laws pertaining to taxation and finance is necessary to identify misconduct or advise an organisation on steps it can take to ensure compliance with legal requirements.

As you advance in your career, you may find yourself with a wide range of opportunities, especially if you choose to become an external auditor. You may be engaged in financial auditing, which examines a company's financial statements and records. You may also take part in corporate audits, helping organisations address specific problems. Non-financial audits can involve a variety of additional skills and needs, providing an organisation with help in reaching sustainability or diversity objectives, or even dealing with the internal risk of fraud and corruption.

Internal vs. external auditor duties

There are two types of auditors and audits possible, external and internal. Qualified internal auditors conduct audits inside their employer or client company. A company may hire an internal auditor directly, or hire an accounting or auditing firm to complete the task. Shareholders of the company often appoint external auditors who act independently and outside of the firm's reporting structure. They provide the results of an internal audit to the board of directors. External audits go to shareholders, whether these are owners or the general public.

Overall, internal audit reports can be a key part of creating strategy and optimising corporate governance and operational processes. External audits contribute to compliance efforts and can provide key information during significant transactions. It's common to conduct an external audit before a significant partnership, merger, and as part of an ongoing compliance program. While these positions have different responsibilities, outcomes and certification requirements, the core skills for becoming an external or internal auditor are mostly the same.

Related: Internal auditor qualifications (with duties and skills)

Requirements to become an auditor

School leavers and university graduates can start their careers as an auditor, though the requirements may differ. There's also a significant difference in the specific certifications required between internal and external auditors. The requirements for external auditors are significantly stricter and require chartered accountant qualifications, while internal auditors aren't subject to that requirement. Here's a list of the typical requirements needed for a role of an auditor:

Education

A university education can be helpful in becoming an accountant and an auditor, but it's rarely a requirement. If you choose to study at university, business administration, maths, and directly relevant subjects like accounting and finance can help accelerate your progress towards a professional position as an auditor. Several universities offer finance and accounting degrees that can significantly advance your understanding of the subject and may simplify pursuing professional certification.

Many auditors pursue higher education, including post-graduate degrees, to improve their chances of meeting the requirements and surpassing other candidates for a role. It's not a requirement to have a university degree, A-levels or BTECs to become an auditor. If you have a bachelor's degree, there are certain credentials that can help you qualify as an accountant. You can attain a range of qualifications through professional organisations which provide training and conduct qualification tests.

Certifications

Becoming an external auditor requires a chartered accountant credential. You can earn these credentials via professional bodies. The entry-level qualification into accountancy is the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualification. The AAT credentials contain four distinct levels, from level one or basic qualification, to level four or professional qualification. Earning a level four AAT qualification makes you a professional member of the association and gives you the right to use "MAAT" after your name, signifying you have earned the credential.

You can earn the Association of Chartered Accountants (ACCA) qualification as part of a bachelor's or master's degree program, and it's more advanced than the AAT. This credential covers risk management, accounting ethics and advanced taxation practices. Candidates with this qualification can join the association to become chartered accountants. This credential can be very helpful for your career as an external auditor and for joining a professional accounting firm.

Related: How much do chartered accountants earn?

Career advancement

Work experience can be key in increasing your earning potential and advancing your career. This is relevant with an internal auditor working towards their chartered accountant qualification. While you are preparing for certification exams and undergoing training, you can also gain valuable insight into the daily work of an accountant by working as an internal auditor. Employers often provide financial help to those working towards their qualifications, which can help offset the costs of education.

Additional education can also help advance your career and improve your salary and job prospects. If you want to advance your career into management, you are likely to need a Certified Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualification. This certification allows you to manage other accounting and auditing staff, and oversee financial operations of an organisation.

Related: How to become a senior auditor (with definition and skills)

Public auditing career path

An auditor seeking to work within the public sector can do so by gaining qualifications with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA). A public finance accountant usually works within public organisations like the police, military or charities. The auditors in this career path can help make sure that public and tax money gets spent responsibly and within the bounds of the law. You can work to gain your professional qualifications while working in the National Audit Office which offers a three-year graduate programme.

Related: Common finance interview questions (and how to answer them)

Auditor skills

This career path can be especially attractive to those with strong attention to detail and numeracy skills. Beyond a strong foundation of mathematical knowledge, independent motivation and problem-solving skills can be key to a successful career as an auditor. In addition to the standard skill sets of an accountant, an auditor can benefit from an ability to notice inconsistencies in reporting to help them find potential mismanagement or misconduct. The complexity of the subject also means that auditors who are learning and increasing their qualifications continuously are at an advantage.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate’s experience, academic background and location.

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