Step 1 – Get the right education and certifications
The majority of Internal Auditors have a university degree in accounting or finance. Business and economics are also acceptable in most cases. The work is quite mathematical, data-intensive and requires a fair bit of computational analysis and logical reasoning. Individuals with a natural aptitude towards accounting will do well here.
Professional certifications like ACA, CPA or ACCA greatly add value to your CV. Such qualifications will also boost your starting compensation and make you eligible for more senior roles and a wider array of roles. Candidates who really want to get a head start should consider these professional certifications, although they are not mandatory for all internal audit roles.
Step 2 – Get some accounting/finance experience
In order to effectively audit business units or company financials, internal auditors need to have an advanced understanding of these things in the first place. This is why most internal auditors are expected to have at least 1-3 years of experience in a relevant field which includes accounting, finance, compliance, risk management, etc.
It’s possible to get in without any experience but only at entry-level roles. Such roles are supportive in nature where the employee is expected to assist senior managers with their actives like data analysis or paperwork etc.
Step 3 – Learn about different business
Internal auditors are required to interact with different business units, functions and teams around the world. In order to succeed, it becomes necessary to learn as much as possible about how each of these business units operates.
For example, an internal auditor may be auditing a financial planning and accounting team in Germany for one month and the sales team in the US the next month. The business and operational aspects that internal audit needs to look at can be quite variable. Take a look at the job description article to see all the activities that need to be performed. <link to job description article>
Step 4 – Prepare for leadership positions
With a few years of experience under their belts, internal auditors are expected to lead teams of other auditors. The role is very much in demand, with solid career prospects in all sectors of the economy. What this means is that career growth can be fast-tracked for those willing to be agile and willing to get out of their comfort zones.
Moving from industry to industry or being open to location changes will greatly increase the number of available job options and this can provide timely boosts to one’s career. It might be a good idea to focus on leadership and team management skills in order to better present yourself as a candidate for senior roles.
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