How to Become an Auditor in 7 Steps (With Essential Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 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.

Auditors are essential parts of numerous organisations' financial departments as they protect the company, its investors and its employees. A proficient auditor can enjoy a long and successful career, ensuring the appropriate use of funds. Understanding how to become an auditor is essential in pursuing a career in this field. In this article, we discuss what auditors are, examine how to become one, identify their primary responsibilities and outline the essential skills for an auditor.

What is an auditor?

Auditors are professionals who ensure that their client's financial statements are accurate and meet the applicable corporate and legal requirements. Their duties include recommending accounting control improvements, detecting fraud and guiding businesses to comply with tax, finance and banking regulations.

Auditors are either internal auditors or external auditors. Internal auditors work in companies that employ them for auditing services, while external auditors render their services without being employees of the organisation. External auditors are essential to government agencies to ensure the appropriate use of public funds. Becoming both internal and external auditors requires the same steps.

Related: What Does an Auditor Do? (With Career Steps and Skills)

How to become an auditor

Here's a list of seven steps on how to become an auditor:

1. Get an education

A bachelor's degree in a relevant programme is vital for a successful career in auditing. Employers commonly prefer candidates with a degree in accounting, economics or finance. These programmes teach the essentials of auditing, and you can develop your expertise by obtaining postgraduate degrees or certifications. Getting a high GPA is helpful as it improves your chances of securing a better internship or job opportunity. You can also take elective courses like accounting technology, business communication, business law, financial accounting and taxation to improve your knowledge of the basics of auditing.

2. Gain experience

Employers typically prefer to recruit candidates with experience in auditing. This requires balancing academic qualifications and experience on your resume when applying for jobs. You can begin gaining relevant experience early in your career by pursuing internship opportunities during your degree programme. Most companies require the services of an auditor, so you can pursue an extensive range of options. You can also apply to local, private or small companies. Internships can help you gain first-hand experience in auditing, including the processes, the rules and the necessary skills of this profession.

3. Earn the certified public accountants (CPA) certification

The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKCPA) offers this certification. The certification is mandatory if you desire to practise as an auditor. Candidates earn can a CPA through a qualification programme (QP), and anyone aged 16 or above from any academic background can apply for it. Candidates also require a minimum of a higher diploma or associate degree at Hong Kong Qualifications Framework (QF) Level 4 or above (or equivalent).

Related: How to Become an Internal Auditor

4. Get a job

Getting a job as an auditor is crucial to starting your career as an auditor. You can apply for jobs after developing the essential skills, earning the necessary degrees and obtaining the mandatory certifications. Employers may prefer candidates with academic qualifications and relevant experience, so having both is an advantage.

Ensure you have an excellent resume and cover letter, as these documents are important factors in getting a job. They tell the recruiter about you and why you're the best fit for the position. Highlight your relevant skills and experience to ensure your resume is easy to read, as the recruiter typically goes through many resumes.

5. Obtain a postgraduate degree

A postgraduate degree in a relevant field increases your proficiency in auditing and expands your range of opportunities. There's a high demand for candidates with a relevant postgraduate degree because it demonstrates your skill, ability and experience level. Relevant postgraduate degrees include a master's degree in accounting, economics, business administration or business law. Obtaining a postgraduate degree that's different from your undergraduate degree also improves your value as an auditor.

6. Acquire certifications

The CPA is a mandatory certification, but you can also obtain other optional certifications to improve your competitive advantage. Certifications indicate your expertise and knowledge in auditing, so they can expose you to various opportunities. There are numerous global certifications that are helpful, such as ISACA's certified information systems auditor (CISA) and the Global Institute of Internal Auditors's certified internal auditors® (CIA®). Certifications commonly require that candidates have a few years of work experience. They also involve coursework and an assessment. Some certifications require periodic revalidation, while others don't.

7. Network

Networking is an essential aspect of pursuing this career as it can provide you with various opportunities. You can connect with numerous like-minded professionals to develop an effective network base. Your connections can also serve as referees for you when you apply for jobs. Connections are also crucial for accessing self-development opportunities, as it helps you learn from other auditors. This extends to helping you remain informed about new industry rules, practices, trends or behaviours.

Primary responsibilities of auditors

Internal auditors work as employees in companies and perform various roles in this capacity. Their duties include determining the internal audit range, developing annual strategies and obtaining, assessing and analysing accounting documentation. They also conduct the complete audit cycle. This includes financial reliability, risk and control management over operation's effectiveness and compliance with all relevant regulations and directives. Internal auditors develop and present reports on the results of the audit process. They also follow up on audits to observe management interventions and ensure open communication between the audit committee and management.

External auditors inspect financial statements to detect misstatements, errors and fraud. They also conduct audits on operations, accounts and systems. Regulatory bodies commonly bring issues they suspect to external auditors for their investigation and subsequent reports. External auditors also audit financial statements to detect regulatory compliance issues and to inspect internal controls and systems.

Related: What Is an Internal Audit and What Are Its Primary Objectives?

Essential skills for auditors

Here are some essential skills you may require as an auditor:

Communication skills

Recruiters look for candidates with proven communication skills. Internal auditors work with the management and stakeholders of an organisation, exchanging information and auditing requirements. For instance, auditors collaborate with the financial department and continually relay important details and instructions. Successfully exchanging information between these parties is necessary for an accurate audit, and this requires excellent written and non-verbal communication skills.

Related: What Is Communication? (And Its Importance in the Workplace)

Emotional intelligence

Auditing is a fundamental and complex aspect of company management that requires consistent accuracy. This makes company stakeholders uneasy over issues like disorganised financial records, probable fraud or unfavourable reports. This requires auditors to remain calm, composed and comforting when interacting with other company stakeholders. To achieve this, excellent emotional intelligence from the auditor is vital. This ability also extends to knowing how to empathise with the company stakeholders while remaining professional. You can develop your emotional intelligence through experience.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking skills help auditors analyse and assess facts and information objectively. This helps auditors produce actionable insights and allows them to know what questions to ask and what suggestions to make to their clients. This way, they can also demonstrate their understanding of their client's industry.;

An auditor with excellent critical thinking skills carefully considers all possible perspectives and scrutinises them before reaching a conclusion. You can increase your critical thinking skills by applying yourself to activities that improve your analytical skills. Reading various industry-specific and general resources can also help you develop this skill.;

Business acumen

Business acumen is essential for auditors because it allows them to use their previous experiences to help a current client. It's also vital because this knowledge helps auditors understand their business roles in relation to their clients. You can develop your business acumen for a client's particular industry by asking them various strategic questions.

Professional scepticism

Professional scepticism is useful for auditors to know when something is amiss and requires re-examination. This is necessary because auditors carefully arrive at their conclusions using logic instead of completely believing their clients. Similarly, professional scepticism is essential for external auditors who want to investigate the truth. The auditor's scepticism ensures that the audit remains accurate, which is vital because inaccurate audits can have drastic consequences. It's also essential for auditors to express their scepticism professionally.

Knowledge of relevant rules and regulations

Auditors are responsible for ensuring that an organisation's financial statements meet the applicable legal and corporate requirements. This requires the auditor to know all the applicable rules and directives, including how to comply with them. Auditors take classes in business law to develop their knowledge of the relevant guiding laws.

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

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