- Make sure organisations are being run properly and according to set procedures
- You'll need analytical and problem-solving ability
- Travel to other sites and nights away from home are often involved
It's the role of an auditor to check through an organisation's records and processes to make sure everything is done properly and produce reports. Auditors are normally qualified accountants as they will need to review financial records. You can be an internal auditor (an employee of an organisation who conducts an audit) or an external auditor (someone independent who comes into the organisation to conduct an audit).
As an external auditor, you'll:
- Independently review a company's accounts to make sure they're accurate and fair
- Audit public sector organisations like civil service departments and local councils
- Check how public money is being spent and see if savings can be made
- Involve examining company accounts
- Identify any problems or risks to the business
- Assess the company's financial reporting systems
- Make recommendations for improvements and discuss these with clients
The role of an internal auditor will likely involve:
- examining an organisation's policies and procedures, or finances, to try to improve them
- researching and assessing how well risk management processes are working and recording the results
- providing ad hoc advice and guidance to managers and staff at all levels, sometimes by delivering courses and training sessions
- performing risk assessments on key business activities and using this information to guide what should be covered in audits
- providing support and guidance to management on how to handle new opportunities
- assessing how well the business is complying to rules and regulations and informing management of any issues that need addressing
You'll work from your own office or at the client's premises. Travel to other sites and nights away from home are often involved. Working hours tend to be normal office hours, but irregular overtime is not uncommon during busy periods and to meet client deadlines.
Flexible working is increasingly common in the sector, particularly in larger companies. During the early years of your career you may also need to devote time during the evenings and at weekends to study for your professional exams.
This role is ideal for someone with strong attention to detail, problem solving skills, and mathematical ability.
To be an external auditor, you'll need to become a qualified chartered accountant with membership of one of these professional bodies: Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), and Association of International Accountants (AIA). You'll need to be a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) to carry out audits in the public sector. If you're qualified as an accountant with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), you can carry out internal audits.
You can also qualify by doing a graduate training scheme after completing an accountancy degree at university, the National Audit Office 3-year training scheme for graduates in any subject, or the National Audit Office 5-year training scheme for school leavers with 3 A levels or equivalent qualifications.
To become an internal auditor, you can join a company as a trainee auditor, or move into auditing by being seconded to an internal auditing team from another department. You'll usually need at least A level qualifications or equivalent, and you'll be expected to take further training as your career develops.
You may also be able to complete an apprenticeship to qualify as an internal auditor, while working with a company. Training options include a higher apprenticeship as an internal audit practitioner, or a level 7 apprenticeship as an internal audit professional.
As an experienced external auditor, you could move into management and then become a partner or finance director. You could set up your own accountancy practice. You could also become a chartered internal auditor, or become a self-employed consultant.