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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. While some skills overlap with a CPA or a CMA, internal auditors have very focused career paths built around the auditing function within large corporations.

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

What Are Internal Auditors Responsible For?

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.
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.
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.
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.

What Are Common CIA Career Paths?

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: $39,000 to $88,000


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: $60,000 to $98,000


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: $66,000 to $118,000


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 $160,000


Map Out Your Internal Auditing Career Path

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.

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