Internal Audit Jobs: What Does an Internal Auditor Do?

internal audit jobs

In the past, internal audit jobs have had a bit of a P.R. problem. Coworkers regarded internal auditors as police officers, while managers considered internal auditors a necessary evil.

Yet, in recent years, companies have viewed the work of internal auditors as more positive and strategic. In fact, organizations now see internal auditors partners that help the business meet its goals, rather than as regulators. Therefore, the reputation of internal auditors has improved. And this development is good news for individuals seeking internal auditor jobs. 

So, if you’re interested in an internal audit job, you can use this information to gain practical insight into the world of an internal auditor. You can also see how fulfilling a career in internal auditing can be. Finally, you’ll learn the types of sectors that demand internal auditing jobs. Then, you can decide if a role in internal audit is right for you.

The Current Condition of an Internal Audit Career

An internal audit career is more enticing nowadays because the world is starting to understand that it needs internal auditors to protect and strengthen the value of an organization. As consulting firm Protiviti points out in its publication Internal Auditing Around the World,

In many organizations now, internal auditors are seen less, or not at all, as ‘policemen,’ but as advisers, strategic partners and consultants… Management now looks to leverage internal audit as a strategic resource, recognizing that internal auditors’ broad and deep perspective of operations, risks, and potential opportunities can help inform business decision-making.

Therefore, people now understand that internal auditors produce data that is invaluable to an organization’s operational efficiency and, ultimately, bottom line.

Furthermore, as internal auditors’ roles and responsibilities expand, their functions become more specialized. A wide variety of internal auditing specializations exist, such as including IT, cyber-security, operations, performance, and fraud investigation.

Why Internal Audit? Advantages of Internal Audit Jobs

Some auditor jobs have their downsides. For example, an external auditor may need to work long hours, travel extensively, and juggle multiple clients at a time. For these reasons, external auditors may be attracted to an internal auditing job, believing that such a position boasts better hours and less stress.

However, the benefits of internal auditor jobs extend beyond these perks. Internal auditor jobs also offer a lot of opportunities and personal fulfillment, as demonstrated by these truths.

1. Internal Auditors Are Partners Who Take Ownership

When you consider an internal audit job, you may be skeptical of the positives because internal auditors only work in one company. Many aspiring high-level consultants might see this condition as a drawback because they want to build a personal brand by showcasing work with several companies within their portfolios.

However, the work of an internal auditor contributes more to a single company than the work of an external consultant. By really digging deep into a company’s processes, a good internal auditor takes ownership of the steps required to improve those processes. That kind of ownership quickly builds a reputation for productivity and results. In turn, those results build your personal brand because you can demonstrate incredibly transformative success stories.

2. An Internal Audit Career Lets You Build Your Reputation for Success

The biggest advantage an internal auditor has is access to internal (non-public) statistics that no other management consultants can ever dream of. If you work for a multinational company, you can run analysis on different regional market sectors or by separate business units. And access like that means that, with a career in internal auditing, you get the chance to find the root of the issues your company is facing. Then, you can advise decision-makers on the best course of action.

Furthermore, in many cases, internal auditing allows you to design and implement programs that will have a lasting impact on your company. By helping corporations and other organizations run at maximum efficiency, you ensure low costs, safety, and many other benefits, not only to your company but also to the community at large. After a few years of working as an internal audit professional within a single company, you’ll have amassed a truly exceptional portfolio. And you can use this measurable data to help you move into higher-level positions later in your career.

3. Internal Auditors Jobs Welcome Talent Diversity

Many internal auditors didn’t go directly into internal audit after graduation. Instead, the typical internal auditor comes into their role from external auditing, IT, business management, consulting, or some other area of operations management.

Usually, the shift occurs because specialists in one particular aspect of a business, like information security, find that a move to internal auditing is the type of change they need to renew their excitement about their careers. And specialty knowledge in internal auditing can be incredibly important, especially when analyzing the way multiple departments interact with one another.

So, an internal auditing career is perfect for someone who’s tired of their existing job and wants a new and challenging position. Quite often, individuals who have spent years in their industries and have the insight needed to change the way business is done migrate naturally into internal auditing. Similarly, professionals from adjacent industries, such as IT and operations management, who want to get into accounting and auditing find an internal audit career to be one of the best entry points.

4. Increasing Regulations Are Increasing the Demand for Internal Auditors

Corporations big and small face an increasingly complicated regulatory environment. Consequently, any professionals that deal with risk and compliance are sure to enjoy high demand for their skills for years to come.  Internal auditors, in particular, have a competitive advantage in this emerging market because of their depth of knowledge and insight into an individual company’s operations.

According to the Institute of Internal Auditors’ (IIA) Pulse of the Internal Audit 2016, 25% of CAEs surveyed project an increase in terms of internal audit staffing and a 35% increase in terms of budget.

Furthermore, compliance and risk management are not the only benefits of having an internal auditor in your organization. The value internal auditors add by detecting IT security breaches, internal and external fraud, and inefficiencies in processes all contribute to an increased demand for internal auditors.

Considerations for an Internal Auditing Career Path

While careers in internal auditing do offer many great opportunities to directly contribute to an organization’s success, certain caveats and limitations exist. So, consider the following facts before you pursue an internal auditing career path.

1. Internal Auditing Is Not a Glamorous Job

As an internal auditor, you’re not a rock star, a doctor, a lawyer, or even an elite salesperson. Rather, you make sure that the products we buy are safe, or that the data we share online is secure, or that the marketing budget of the insurance company isn’t completely out of line with policyholders’ needs. Therefore, you’re more of a behind-the-scenes superhero.

Because of the clandestine nature of internal auditor jobs, you’ll want to work for a company that values an informed and unbiased voice within the organization. You should seek out an environment in which you’re viewed as a collaborator, not as a cop. In such organizations, you can form partnerships with different department heads. Then, together, you can ensure the cohesion and unity of the processes and vision of the company.

2. Compensation Doesn’t Always Align With Responsibilities

As the roles of internal auditors expand, the level of skills and experience required to perform the job increases. Therefore, in order to attract the right talent, companies will need to start compensating their internal auditors in accordance with their workloads. However, these types of changes are slow to come about. As a result, many industries are currently experiencing a shortage of internal auditors.

As mentioned above, you want to find a company in which you’re truly valued. If you do, you shouldn’t have a problem negotiating compensation that matches your skills, education, and experience level. Unfortunately, there are some in the old guard who haven’t caught up with the idea of internal audit professionals being partners. As such, they don’t recognize the potential increase in productivity and profit. And in those cases, they may not be willing to pay as much at first.

But as mentioned above, compensation will increase as demand and auditing budgets continue to increase.

3. You May Still Encounter a Heavy Workload and Occasional Travel

The work/life balance can be much better in the internal audit world than in the external audit one. However, internal auditors still need to work long hours and travel at times.

How many hours do internal auditors work? Typically, an internal audit job stays within the confines of a normal 40-hour work week. However, when preparing for inspections or large external audits, an internal auditor’s workload may increase. During these times, internal auditors may need to put in extra hours as well.

Furthermore, if the company has offices across the country or around the world, then you may need to travel on occasion. But many young professionals actually see this fact as an exciting and attractive aspect of internal auditor jobs. Yet, internal auditors with families or dependents may have to ponder this downside a bit longer. If frequent travel is an issue for you, you may want to consider a company that only has local offices.

What Do Internal Auditors Do? Types of Internal Audit Jobs Available

Currently, companies across America are looking for internal auditors, and some of these companies fall into the following sectors. Therefore, internal auditors can make a real difference in these areas, both in the day-to-day operations of the organization and, by proxy, in the lives of the community at large.

Transportation/Logistics

Internal auditors within the transportation/logistics industry provide auditing of financial, forensic, operational, and compliance within a major public transportation organization.

The work these auditors do helps to maintain schedules, preserve resources, and prioritize public safety. Ultimately, internal auditors in the transportation and logistics industries make sure that thousands of commuters and goods get to their destinations safely and on time.

Healthcare

Many internal auditing jobs within the massive U.S. healthcare industry have a direct effect on the premiums that both businesses and employees pay for coverage. These internal auditors also work in pharmaceutical companies, healthcare research labs, and hospitals.

So, internal auditors audit fraudulent claims or internal spending for insurance companies. They also help to ensure that organizations spend research dollars efficiently and effectively. In these ways, internal auditors can have a real impact on the quality of healthcare in America.

Information Security/Tech Development

The tech sector is full of internal audit jobs that involve identifying security risks, ensuring compliance, and performing efficiency audits. Additionally, senior auditors in this field are also often responsible for security function design as well as incident management.

Therefore, careers in IT/information security auditing help to maintain a safe and secure network for clients. They would also put you at the forefront of identifying new security risks in both cloud-based and LAN-based storage.

Biotechnology/Healthcare Research

Auditors for biotech companies design and perform IT audits and SOX compliance, qualitative and quantitative analysis, and coordination of SOX planning.

Similarly, auditors in medical research have the opportunity to ensure that firms are using research dollars and other resources effectively. In doing so, internal auditors help enable those firms to cure debilitating diseases that affect the lives of millions.

Green Energy

Employers in the green energy sector are looking for internal auditors that can achieve SOX compliance, provide consultive services, and develop relationships inter-departmentally.

So, internal auditors have plenty of chances to make a difference in green energy. These opportunities include providing low cost and sustainable energy to customers through green technology. They also include helping to supply the people of the Southwest with fresh water solutions.

Compensation for an Internal Audit Career

So, how much do internal auditors make? Well, depending on the region and the level of position you attain, you can expect to earn anywhere between $50,000 to $115,000 annually. Obviously, senior-level positions pay more. But, even $5o,000 isn’t a bad starting salary for an entry-level auditor just out of college.

And, you can make even more when you acquire the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification. When you look at the numbers, you can see that the CIA salary is definitely another benefit of internal audit work.

Skills Necessary to an Internal Auditor Job

If you want to make an impression as an outstanding internal auditor, you must demonstrate the following hard and soft skills on the job:

Hard Skills for Internal Audit Work

  • Financial statement examinations
  • Regulations compliance assurance
  • Data analysis
  • Risk management issues reporting and addressing
  • Best practice recommendations

Soft Skills for Internal Audit Work

  • Active listening
  • Diplomacy
  • Persuasion and collaboration
  • Critical thinking
  • Presentation (e.g. public speaking)

Soft skills are equally if not more essential than hard skills. Soft skills are important because internal auditing involves working with business units and management on a long-term basis. This situation is in contrast to external auditing in which projects and clients come and go.

Conclusions About Internal Audit Jobs

A successful internal auditor maintains good audit committee relationships. Furthermore, she is able to suggest ways to increase efficiency and reduce costs. Finally, she provides immense added value to the organization by identifying key weaknesses and threats. Such an internal auditor will quickly become a rising star within any company.

So, if this information has convinced you that an internal auditor job is ideal for you, then you should begin your pursuit of an internal audit career today. And, you should also consider earning the Certified Internal Auditor certification as a way to make yourself even more desirable for an internal auditor job. You can learn all about the CIA certification in my free CIA e-course. Or, you can simply sign up below!

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About the Author Stephanie

I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley) and the publisher of this and several accounting professional exam prep sites.

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  • Rere says:

    How to be a start internal auditor? Well what I would like to hear more advise on is how do you switch from Accounting/Finance position to an internal auditing position. If you do not have the education and expierence background of an internal auditor, why would people hire someone like this? However the person have a Bachelor degree and expierence in Acounting/Finance plus the skills. But what’s next? How do they get there?

  • Delia says:

    Good Day,

    I was thinking about the CIA exam. Is the 4 year requirement inclusive of experience? or is it that a candidate has four years to pass the exams and then can work on the internal audit experience?

  • Alta Greer says:

    Having a Master’s in Business Adminstration, would there be any reason why I would not be looked at as a potential candidate for Internal Auditor? I have some compliance experience but not accounting.

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Alta,
      In my opinion, one can always be a potential candidate, but MBA isn’t necessarily relevant to core internal audit. It is useful, of course, but if your competition is against someone with audit experience, it is tougher. Having said that, it’s great if you have compliance experience. If you are really interested, it would be helpful to learn basic accounting.

  • Walter D Leen says:

    Reply for Rick Nadal. I am 75 year old former 45 year career auditor . now retired with time to play. I researched
    Thetford which is quite small in revenues and a sub since 1997 of NY Hudson River Valley based DKM
    which has about $500 millions in revenues,so audit staff it very small. Also seem you hjave engineeering education (which is good for Thetford position ) and are somewhat new with Dutch unit . Lkely reporting to audit leader in Michigan .

    I was hands on audit executive of a billion global firm with operations (including manufacturing ) in 18 countries
    for 25 years but only has a staff of 2 other auditors but we all has extensive global auditor experience and
    were certiified as either CIA or CA or CPA .
    I was first Computer Auditor for Citibank in Europe and enjoyed my single days in Amsterdam at the Old Bell Tavern
    and later was lead operational auditor for Exxon-Mobil ( then just MOBIL ) . Once i earned CIA certification landed a senior audit managment position with a small Fortune 500 firms with 10,000 employees and strong financial controls but weaker operational controls.

    On an annual basis my small top gun internal Audit unit saved more money than it ‘s budget so was a profit centers and that seems to be the best path for creditability for you.

    You need skills to audit everthing not just financial statements– operations, computer systems, construction, etc. Thetford’s Norcold RV products require sales literature with photos and graphic arts expenses could be very high–a great audit opporttunity to save money. The 2016 $36 million legal setllement , telles me that Thetford’s Manufacting Quality Control and /or change order document controls units was never effectively audited before 2016.. Scrap and waste need audit too. You also need to be Certified to secure creditability with those professionals you audit and senior management. CIA is excellent and more appropriate for Thetforsd than other cerfifications.

    You can google me at Walter Leen,,Computerworld and Walter Leen, DASNY . If you want to dicsuss futher email me at
    walterleen111@gmail .com

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