How to Become an Auditor

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.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Be a Team Player and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?

What Does a Day in the Life of an Auditor Look Like?

From learning about new industries to traveling around the country, auditors enjoy a lot of variety in their day-to-day work. If you’re thinking of becoming an auditor, you might be wondering what a day in the life looks like: Is it mostly travel and meetings with financial executives, or do auditors mainly spend their time assessing a company’s financial reporting risks? To find out the answer, we asked the team at the CAQ (Center for Audit Quality) to share some insights into the key parts of the job.

What we discovered is that the tasks may vary from one day to the next. In fact, no two days are quite alike in the auditing field. Most auditors do a combination of the following things:

1. Team with peers to establish a game plan

While audit testing can be done autonomously, many auditors tend to work closely in teams so that they can cover as much ground as possible and check each other’s work. This work requires professional skepticism, objectivity, and good communication. Many auditors say this is the reason they enjoy their work so much. Rather than sitting behind a desk all day, they are working with their peers as a team to provide accurate financial information to investors and build trust in capital markets.

2. Meet with financial executives

Meeting with financial executives and assessing their needs is often the next step toward establishing a relationship. Once that relationship has been established, ongoing meetings allow auditors to understand how the companies they audit operate and get updates on important financial developments. In return, auditors assess financial reporting risks and develop audit strategies to mitigate those risks. The work of the auditors helps to build confidence in the financial information presented by companies.

3. Research a company’s financial history

In addition to meetings with financial executives, auditors spend a significant amount of time researching companies’ industries and learning about their prior audit history. For example, when working with a company in the tech industry, auditors are responsible for understanding current financial trends and knowing how the company they are auditing fits into the broader landscape of the industry. Prior to starting the audit process, auditors must also get a sense of how the company has performed in previous years to understand the financial challenges it has faced. In order to gain this knowledge, auditors will typically review public audit records from previous years (how many depends on how long the company has been in business) and make note of any red flags that come up.

4. Conduct site visits

Visiting the physical location of the company is another key part of an auditor’s job and usually one of the reasons why auditors travel so frequently. These site visits can be carried out for general meetings or as part of inventory observations required during the audit process. According to the CAQ, the visits can vary widely depending on the company that you are auditing. For example, they can include touring lab facilities for pharmaceutical companies or visiting warehouses owned by retailers.

5. Assess financial reporting risk

The final and most important part of an auditor’s job is assessing the risk of misstatement in the company’s financial statements. This includes evaluating and documenting their risk assessment of the company based upon meetings, research, and site visits. Auditors will then develop audit procedures to address those risks.

According to auditors interviewed by the CAQ, the profession offers two important things: variety and work-life balance. “One thing I love about public accounting is that each week is different,” explains Ben, an auditor from Chicago, who spoke to the CAQ about why he chose to become an auditor.

A diverse but stable career path, auditing offers a lot of opportunities for continued learning and growth with enough flexibility to develop a schedule that works for you.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Things to Do in Your First Week at a New Job and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?

Top 5 Misconceptions About Being an Auditor

An exciting and growth-oriented career, auditing offers recent grads an opportunity to learn about new industries like media and tech while also developing their knowledge of accounting and business operations. Despite the fact that it’s a stable career with high earning potential, there are some common misconceptions about auditing that seem to keep popping up. To set the record straight, we sat down with the team at the CAQ (Center for Audit Quality) to find out what it’s really like to be an auditor.

Here are the top five misconceptions about being an auditor.

1. Auditing isn’t a very exciting career path

If you’ve ever heard a joke about accounting or auditing, you know that the punchline is almost always about it being a boring profession. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, being an auditor gives you exposure to a diverse range of industries and companies, meaning you’ll always be learning about new business trends and meeting with leaders in almost every industry – all while working in a collaborative team environment made up mostly of your peers who often become your friends and colleagues for life.

Added bonus: According to the CAQ, auditors who work for public accounting firms get to work on a variety of cool projects including counting votes for popular award shows like the Oscars and the Grammys.

2. Auditors spend most of their time crunching numbers

Another common misconception about auditing is that it’s mostly about analyzing financial statements. Although this is definitely a part of an auditor’s job, it’s not the only part. Auditors also spend time meeting with company executives, conducting site visits, and learning about the company’s particular industries. This background knowledge helps auditors understand how the company they are auditing carries out their day-to-day business activities and makes auditing a well-rounded profession that is about much more than number crunching. Auditing also requires a questioning-mindset, objectivity, and judgment skills.

3. Auditing is mostly a desk job

The idea that auditing is mostly a desk job goes hand-in-hand with the notion that auditors spend most of their time working alone analyzing financial statements. In reality, the opposite is true. Because auditors attend frequent client meetings, they often travel to company sites all over the country (and sometimes the world). And because some auditing work can be done autonomously, auditors are also able to work remotely. “One great thing about this job is that my desk is in my backpack. I can basically set up wherever I want,” explains Jesse, an auditor from Atlanta who spoke with the CAQ about his decision to go into auditing.

4. You need a CPA license to be an auditor

One of the biggest misconceptions about being an auditor is that you need to pass the CPA exam before you can get started. In fact, many auditors are not CPAs, and having your CPA license is not a requirement for the first several years at the job. However, the experts at the CAQ recommend taking the exam for two reasons: 1) It will increase your earning potential, and 2) It will help you stand out from the crowd when it comes to finding new opportunities.

5. Auditors do not have a lot of work-life flexibility

The final misconception about auditing is that employees do not have work-life flexibility. While there may be less flexibility for some auditors during busy season (when companies are filing their annual financial statements or 10Ks), for the most part, auditing offers a lot of flexibility and a well-balanced schedule. “Auditors work hard but we also have a pretty good work-life balance,” says Ashley, an auditor from Miami who refers to that balance as one of the key benefits of the job.

Although auditing is sometimes jokingly described as a not-so-exciting career involving a lot of long hours, the truth is that it offers both variety and opportunities for continued development. By knowing what to expect, you’ll have a clear understanding of your potential career path and you’ll be able to decide whether auditing is right for you.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Be a Team Player and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?

Top 4 Tips for Landing an Auditing Job

If you’re interested in auditing and considering becoming an auditor, you might be wondering what you can do to land a great auditing job. Should you intern at a big accounting firm? Take classes on financial regulation? Or is it more about knowing what to expect and being able to plan your career path accordingly? To find out the answer, we recently spoke with the team at the CAQ (Center for Audit Quality) to find out what steps you can take to find a job that fits your skills and lifestyle.

Here are the top four tips for landing an auditing job.

1. Take relevant classes during your time in college

Since auditing requires an understanding of financial regulations and accounting principles, developing this knowledge as an undergraduate will get you one step closer to finding the right job. The best way to do this is by taking business and accounting classes as part of your major and using these classes to establish a solid knowledge base. At the same time, you can develop your skills by taking specialized electives such as data analytics, business ethics and accounting information systems.

Pro Tip: If you want to really stand out from the crowd, supplementing your knowledge by learning about auditing through sources such as the CAQ’s Discover Audit initiative is a great way to do so.

2. Intern with an accounting firm while in college

If you’re not sure about what auditing career path to choose (or even if you are but want to build your skills and experience), a great way to gain exposure to the profession is by doing an internship with an accounting firm during your sophomore of junior year of college. This will give you hands-on experience while teaching you the type of skills you’ll need to succeed in the profession. As an added bonus, you’ll expand your professional network and will likely open yourself up to new job opportunities after the internship is over. Plus, many public accounting firms hire directly from their intern pools.

3. Start networking

It’s never to early to start networking and the best place to do so is right on your campus. This is because audit professionals from large accounting firms often spend time on college campuses networking with current students. In order to make the most of these opportunities, take advantage of the chance to meet these professionals and hear from them about their experiences. As an added bonus, these might be the same professionals you’ll get to work with someday if you decide that a career in auditing is for you.

4. Study for the CPA exam

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. 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.

By following these tips and knowing how to position yourself as a competitive candidate, you’ll be setting yourself up for success and getting one step closer to landing a great auditing job.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Things to Do in Your First Week at a New Job and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?

What is an Accounting Major and is it Right for Me?

If you’ve always been good at math and seeing trends and patterns in numbers, and you consider yourself a skilled communicator who can relay complex data analysis to others, then an accounting major (and career path) may be for you.

Accountants look at financial trends to consult nonprofits, governments and businesses on how to best do their jobs and run their organizations. These analyses must be detailed, complex and data-heavy, allowing people to gain valuable insights from them.

What is an accounting major?

Accounting majors learn how to maintain financial accounts. It prepares students to be accountants by teaching them about accounting principles like auditing, reporting, budgeting and tax regulations.

Is it right for me?

Because accountants could be responsible for an organization’s financial well-being, accountants need to be able to pay close attention to detail and handle large amounts of data at a time. One wrong error or misfiled document could lead to big problems for a company or organization.

To figure out if an accounting career could be in your future, here are several key questions to consider:

  • Am I detail-oriented? Do I pay attention to detail without anyone asking me to?
  • Am I good with numbers? Does working with large sets of data excite or intimidate me?
  • Do I like working with things like balance sheets, profitability forms and tax filings? Do I have confidence in filling out forms like these and presenting them on behalf of a company, nonprofit or government entity?
  • Am I able to see and analyze patterns in large amounts of data and relay that information to people who may not be as well-acquainted with the data as I am?

What can I do with an accounting degree?

Just because you start off crunching numbers doesn’t mean you have to spend your entire job or career doing just that. Accountants have the ability to choose whether or not to work in the public or private sector as well as if they want to work on the more business-oriented side of any company. If you’re looking to go into business and want an analytical edge on the competition, an accounting degree could be perfect for you.

What do accountants make?

The amount you’ll make with an accounting degree depends on the type of company you pursue as well as how far you decide to continue your education. College students who graduate with a degree in accounting make a median salary of $50,500. For people who choose to continue their education and become Certified Public Accountants (CPA), the median salary is $73,800, and it can climb to well over $124,000 per year. Additionally, those with a CPA certification make 5% to 15% more than their non-CPA counterparts.

Next, learn more about this college major such as the Types of Internships for Accounting Majors and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as When to Start Applying for a Summer Internship.

6 Things to Do in Your First Week at a New Job

The first week of any new job can seem a little overwhelming. It’s probably the one week where you’ll have the most “ramping up” to do throughout your time at a company. Here are a few tips to make sure you nail that week, no matter what the job entails.

1. Ask lots of questions

Don’t hesitate to ask questions. This isn’t the only week you’re allowed to ask questions, but it’s the week when everyone will want to help. Don’t worry about being annoying; you’re expected to have a lot of questions, and asking them shows that you’re eager to learn. Just make sure you ask things that will help you learn and keep track of people’s answers so you won’t be asking the same questions over and over again. Most importantly, if you have a question that isn’t specific to the company, be sure to Google it first so that you’re not asking obvious questions.

2. Don’t be the last one in, or the first one out

The first week is all about first impressions, so it’s important to demonstrate your commitment by being in the office as much as possible. Being one of the first people in and one of the last to leave is a great way to show everyone that you’re a hard worker. It also shows that you are eager to learn and participate. You’re not just there to clock in and clock out, you want to show you’re dedicated and willing to go the extra mile to be a valuable team member.

3. Learn the office

Figure out where everything in the office is. Where’s the bathroom, printer, kitchen and coffee machine? You should definitely try to figure things out on your own before tapping someone on the shoulder, but don’t be afraid to ask about how the bathroom situation works or which snacks are on- and off-limits.

4. Pay attention to people’s routines

Pay close attention to your co-workers’ daily routines. This applies especially to your boss or supervisor and other people in your position who have been there for a while. Learn what the high performers in your role are doing well and incorporate that into your new routine. Don’t be afraid to ask what makes people successful at the company. This is the best way to get a sense of what you can do to succeed in your own position.

5. Get to know everyone

Most importantly, make an effort to get to know all your co-workers. If you work for a big company or have a huge office, focus on the people you actually work with. Set up a meeting outside the office, like a coffee or a lunch, and do a little research on what that person’s role is and what he or she does on a daily basis. Use these meetings as a chance to ask questions, and more importantly, build relationships.

Not only will your days be more enjoyable if you have good relationships with the people you work with, but your co-workers will be more open to helping you if you’re on good terms with them. You will be spending a lot of time with these people, so it’s best to build those strong bonds from the beginning.

6. Send a status update at the end of the week

Sending an end of week update to your manager is a great way to wrap up your first week. Be sure to include everything you’ve accomplished during the week, any questions you may have and a plan of what you intend to do the following week. This will show your manager that you’re organized and proactive about succeeding in your new role.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Be a Team Player, and find answers to common interview questions such as, What Gets You Up in The Morning?

What Types of Skills are Best for an Accounting Major?

When you’re looking at what to study in school, it’s extremely important to look at the larger skill sets you’ll need to not only complete a college major but thrive within that area of study.

If you’re looking at a degree in accounting, there are three main skills you’ll need, and some may not be what you thought.

Analytical and Quantitative Skills

Accounting is a number-heavy major that requires strength in areas like math and statistics. Being able to see and understand patterns in data and then find solutions is rooted in strong quantitative skills, so if these are areas you enjoy and are strong in, an accounting major may be up your alley. Many accounting programs require several years of different math and statistics classes, so be prepared to spend a lot of time learning those subjects.

Problem-Solving Skills

Rarely do accountants deal with numbers in a vacuum, so the most successful accounting majors will be able to apply their math and statistics skills to solving complex problems that affect organizations on a high level.

Problem-solving doesn’t just happen in your math and statistics courses, either. Many accounting programs require students to take classes in economics, business and marketing, so you’ll have to be effective at taking the numbers and using them to your advantage across different academic disciplines.

Communication Skills

There’s often a misconception that accounting majors spend all day crunching numbers, when in reality, they must also be able to communicate their findings to people from all different fields.

To be a successful accounting major, you must be able to communicate your process and findings through oral and written communication as effectively and efficiently as possible. You’ll often be asked to present projects and other findings to your professors and in front of groups of all sizes. The best accounting majors will graduate with the ability to communicate effectively to any audience.

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Types of Internships for Accounting Majors

While accounting might seem like a straightforward major, there are many different types of accounting you can focus on. Below are four of the most common types of accounting internships, what each one entails and specific skills you might need for that particular internship.

Corporate accounting intern

Corporate interns work within a larger organization to assist on a variety of financial tasks. In your role, you could be performing profit analysis, working on costing and pricing, preparing budget and forecasting documents, creating cash applications and collections, and preparing tax information, certificates and filings.

Tax accounting intern

Like other accounting interns who deal with taxes, tax interns spend a lot of time on a client’s tax preparation and filings. One thing that sets tax interns apart from other accounting-based interns is that they work very independently. Because they spend a lot of time working alone, tax interns must be self-motivated and detail-oriented so that they feel confident when presenting their work to supervisors.

Audit accounting intern

Audit interns work with a team to help with the planning, implementation and reporting of audits. Because these interns work with others within the auditing team and within an organization at large, it’s especially important to have strong interpersonal and connection skills.

Financial accounting intern

Financial accounting interns may be assigned to do a variety of tasks depending on the size and scope of the company they work for. Responsibilities could be helping with creating and fact-checking an organization’s financial statements, working on tax documentation or auditing a company’s various departments and their budgets.

Whether you’re looking for a paid or unpaid internship, getting exposure to as many areas of the accounting field as possible is a great way to set yourself up for success after graduation.

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What Types of Skills Are Best for a Math Major?

If the idea of working on problem sets, finding solutions and solving real-world problems appeals to you, becoming a math major might be right up your alley. But what are the key skills you’ll need to rock the math major and feel confident in your career prospects?

Here are four skills that all of the most successful math majors possess.

Strong quantitative skills

Fact: You can be a math major unless your number-crunching, quantitative and logic skills are extremely strong. Majoring in math is not for those who did “okay” in math classes in high school; you need to be confident in your abilities to solve problems.

Organizational skills

Math majors take a lot of notes in classes, so you’re going to have to think of an efficient system for note-taking on many different subjects and also organizing the notes you take. You’d be surprised how easy it is to get lost if you can’t keep track of the notes you’ve written or the problem sets you’ve finished; successful math majors are able to keep all of their documents straight.


It may seem like a strange skill for a math major, but think about it: You’re spending hours upon hours every day working on difficult problem sets, and it’s easy to get frustrated and give up.

However, math majors need to be able to stay calm and ask for help when they need it, and the most successful people in this major are those who are able to remain calm when a problem doesn’t make sense, try out different strategies to find a solution and turn to others if the answer isn’t obvious.

Problem-solving skills

Right up there with patience is the importance of having a problem-solving mind, one that desires to find the solution to any problem and will work tirelessly to find it.

The great thing about majoring in math is that your calculations and equations can solve big real-world problems, but you have to be curious, ready and willing to take on new challenges, many of which won’t have obvious solutions right off the bat.

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