Auditor: job description
Auditors inspect organisations’ financial accounts to ensure they’re correct and comply with the law.
Auditors review the accounts of companies and other organisations to ensure their financial records are correct and in line with the law. They could be inspecting the accounts of their own employer or those of another organisation, and they can also act in an advisory role to recommend risk aversion measures and cost savings.
Typical duties include:
- collating, checking and analysing spreadsheet data
- examining company accounts and financial control systems
- gauging levels of financial risk within organisations
- checking that financial reports and records are accurate and reliable
- ensuring that assets are protected
- identifying if and where processes are not working as they should and advising on changes to be made
- preparing reports, commentaries and financial statements
- liaising with managerial staff and presenting findings and recommendations
- ensuring procedures, policies, legislation and regulations are correctly followed and complied with
- undertaking reviews of wages.
Auditors typically work standard office hours, plus some overtime or weekend working at busy times, particularly at the financial year end. When conducting audits for clients, they may be required to work from their client’s workplace.
Auditors’ salaries vary according to location and the type of employer. The National Audit Office offers a starting salary of £29,000 in London and £24,000 in Newcastle, for example, while you can expect the likes of the Big 4 professional services firms (Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC) to pay higher rates.
According to a recent salary survey from the recruitment agency Hays UK, senior qualified auditors in the public practice of a private accountancy firm typically earn £33,000–£49,000 and directors £70,000–£110,000, depending on their location (with the lowest figures offered in Wales and Northern Ireland and the highest in London and the south east of England).
Auditors can be either internal or external.
Internal auditors may work:
- for professional firms outsourced by client companies
- in-house as part of an organisation’s accounting team
- for large private companies, organisations and charities
External auditors may work:
- with private firms of accountants
- for the National Audit Office, where they carry out obligatory audits of the public sector and governmental bodies.
There are routes into a career in audit for both university graduates and school leavers, though routes differ depending on whether you are aiming for internal or external audit.
External auditors first need to qualify as chartered accountants with a professional accounting body. For more information about how to do this, see our accountant job description .
Alternatively, you can gain a qualification with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) to work as an auditor in the public sector.
You can also study for a professional accounting qualification while working for the National Audit Office, which offers a three-year graduate scheme.
Achieving qualifications can take three to five years but you will work while studying. Employers often provide financial help with exams and allow time for study leave.
Internal auditors do not have to qualify as accountants. You can apply with a degree in any discipline but subjects such as accountancy, economics and IT are particularly beneficial. School leavers can enter the profession by starting as a trainee auditor or apprentice.
- Meticulous attention to detail.
- A strong aptitude for maths.
- Excellent problem-solving skills.
- A keen interest in the financial system.
- Ability to work to deadlines, under pressure.
- Ability to work on your own initiative and as part of a team.
- Strong IT skills.
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, including good presentation and report writing skills.