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Becoming a Certified Internal Auditor® requires hard work and dedication. For those considering a career in Internal Auditing, it’s encouraging to know the responsibilities, career paths, and benefits that come with this certification.

Here’s a quick overview of what a career in Internal Auditing may entail.

First, The Basics … 

Within the accountancy field, Internal Auditors provide an independent and objective assessment of a company’s operations, specifically the effectiveness of its internal control structure. It’s very different from a CPA or a CMA, though some of the skills and processes may overlap.

Internal Auditors use a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and provide companies or clients with assurance services through approaches that include (but are not limited to) :

  • Analyzing Operations
  • Reviewing Compliance
  • Recommending Controls
  • Assuring Safeguards

Common Responsibilities of An Internal Auditor

1) Operations Analysis: An Internal Auditor often reviews procedures and operations closely, confirming that they are being followed correctly and that they support the organization’s goals and objectives. After examining processes and procedures, the Internal Auditor reports his or her findings and works closely with auditees to provide accurate and pertinent recommendations that help the organization to adhere more closely to its objectives.

2) Compliance Review: An Internal Auditor supports senior management by staying fully educated about the intricacies of, implementation strategies for, and compliance with current regulations and legislation. An Internal Auditor is often responsible for explaining and detailing the impact that non-compliance would have on the organization, as well as reporting signs or instances of non-compliance.

3) Control Recommendations: An Internal Auditor may also be expected to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of current controls and determines if those controls can truly mitigate risks that can threaten the organization. Effective internal control is a built-in component to the management process and keeps the organization on course toward its objectives and mission.

 4) Safeguard Assurances: Another common Internal Auditor function is to review how the organization protects its assets, and assesses whether the appropriate safeguards are in place. If assets are not well protected, then the Internal Auditor must recommend appropriate changes.

Your Career Options

OK, here’s what most people (including your parents) really want to know …

This short overview of potential jobs is not an exhaustive list by any means, as requirements and expectations change depending on the organization, region and industry. All salary figures come from compensation research firm PayScale.

Entry-level Internal Auditors 

Early in your career, you must have the basic skills to review an organization’s processes, operations and goals, and provide clear summary reports of your findings. Most positions are tailored toward recent college graduates, who preferably (but not always required to) hold a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, business administration or computer information systems.

Potential Jobs: Auditor, Auditing Specialist, Risk Assessment Specialist, Financial Analyst, Internal Controls Auditor, Information Systems Auditor

Salary Potential: $31,000 to $66,000 

Lead Internal Auditors 

With roughly five years of Internal Audit experience under your belt, you’ll be expected to demonstrate an understanding of the organization as well as industry best practices. You’ll often be asked to work with management to monitor internal controls, mitigate risks posed to the organization and provide feedback about audit plans.

Potential jobs: Senior Internal Auditor, Lead Internal Auditor

Salary Potential: $64,000 to $81,000

Internal Audit Supervisors

With more experience—often with eight years minimum in the industry—comes more oversight and management of the auditors on staff. You’ll also be expected to assist in the planning, testing and executing of internal audit activities, and examine and monitor the company’s system of internal controls.

Potential Jobs: Audit Supervisor, Audit Manager, Risk Manager, Project Manager, Internal Audit Director

Salary Potential: $81,000 to $110,000

Internal Audit Executives

At this point in your career, after a decade or more of experience, you may be overseeing the internal audit department as well as participating in management and execution of audit plans, and lead and direct the audit team. A successful track record as an effective manager is a must.

Potential Jobs: Finance Director/VP, Chief Financial Officer, Controller 

Salary Potential: $76,000 to $130,000

Map Out Your Future With This Cool Interactive Tool

Recently, the Institute of Internal Auditors introduced its free IIA Career Map online tool to help both CIA holders and non-CIA holders map out their desired career paths.

Check it out here. It’s pretty cool

But don’t forget … all of this is dependent on you first passing the CIA Exam.