If you’re a business or accounting major, or just someone who’s interested in the world of finance, you might be considering a career as an auditor. And with its reputation for stability and high projected growth rates, the field of auditing has a lot to offer students and recent grads. To get the inside scoop on auditing, we sat down with the team at the CAQ (Center for Audit Quality) to find out what it takes to get started in the field.
Here are the steps you need to take if you want to become an auditor.
1. Earn an undergraduate degree
The first step toward becoming an auditor is to earn a bachelor’s degree in business, accounting, economics, data analytics or other related subjects. Since auditing is a technical field that requires a solid understanding of accounting principles, taking on a major that will help you develop this knowledge is a great way to set yourself up for success.
Pro Tip: If you’re passionate about more than one academic subject, a double major or minor is a great way to explore different areas of academia, while still building the skills you’ll need to be an auditor. You should especially consider computer science and data analytics if you want to get an edge on the auditing profession.
2. Develop your knowledge of accounting and auditing
In addition to taking relevant classes during your time in college, it’s important to develop your business and industry knowledge by staying on top of the latest financial and business news. A good way to do this is by reading major news publications like the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, and keeping track of new and ongoing financial trends. If you want to get even more specialized in your knowledge, you can check out publications targeted specifically to those who want to learn more about auditing such as the CAQ’s Discover Audit initiative.
3. Intern at a public accounting firm during your college years
Although college classes and individual research are a great way to learn about the field of auditing, there’s really nothing better than an internship when it comes to getting hands-on experience in the profession. By interning with a public accounting firm during your college years, you’ll be able to get a sense of everything involved in the audit process (from researching the financial history of a particular company to evaluating financial reporting risks) and to find out whether the role is a good fit for you.
Pro Tip: Since many accounting firms hire full-time auditors directly from their intern pool, an internship is also the perfect way to get noticed by potential employers and see if that firm is a good fit for you.
4. Be CPA ready
Although a Certified Public Accounting (CPA) license is not required in order to start your career as an auditor, many firms — especially large public accounting firms — require their employees to obtain their CPA license early in their career, especially for individuals who want to continue to working on public company audits. Developed by the American Institute of CPAs, the exam consists of four parts and covers topics such as financial accounting, regulation, and business concepts. According to the CAQ, even if your particular firm doesn’t require a CPA license, passing the exam is a way to expand your career options and to get recognized in the field. It will also increase your earning potential throughout your career.
Pro Tip: Licensure requirements vary by state and understanding the requirements for your state should be the first step you take when preparing for the CPA exam. Also, many accounting firms provide training and assistance to employees when they are preparing for the exam.
By following these steps and developing your knowledge and skill set, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an auditor.