Go through our full job guide if you want to become an Auditor in the UK.
What does an Auditor do?
An auditor’s job is to check for accuracy and efficiency within an organisation. ‘External’ auditors examine financial accounts and are usually qualified accountants, whilst ‘internal’ auditors usually focus on policies and procedures.
As an external auditor, you would independently review a company’s accounts to make sure they are accurate and show a fair view of its financial position. You might also audit public sector organisations such as civil service departments and local councils, to check how public money is being spent and to see if savings can be made. Most organisations are required by law to publish audited accounts.
Your work as an external auditor would involve:
- examining company accounts
- collecting and interpreting figures
- identifying any problems or risks to the business
- assessing the company’s financial reporting systems
- establishing good working relationships with clients
- making recommendations for improvements.
As an internal auditor, you would examine an organisation or department’s policies, procedures and possibly its finances with a view to advising on how efficiency could be improved.
You would normally work between 35 and 40 hours per week, Monday to Friday, with occasional overtime to meet deadlines at busy times. Part-time work may be possible.
You could work from your own office or at the client’s premises. Travel to other sites is often involved, which may mean possible nights away from home.
How much does an Auditor earn?
Salary and pay information:
- Part-qualified salaries can be between £22,000 and £26,000 a year.
- Once qualified, earnings are usually around £32,000 to £46,000.
- Senior and management salaries can be between £55,000 and £70,000.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
To become an external auditor, you must first qualify as a qualified chartered accountant with one of the following professional bodies:
- Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI)
- Association of International Accountants (AIA).
If you are a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), you can carry out audits in the public sector but not in private companies.
To start training as an accountant with any of the above organisations, you will typically need:
- at least three GCSEs (A-C) including English and maths, plus
- two A levels, or equivalent qualifications or work experience.
Contact the professional bodies for more details, and see related profiles for more information about training and qualifying as an accountant.
If you are qualified with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), you can carry out internal audits, but you cannot conduct external audits unless you take audit training with another accountancy body. See the Management Accountant profile for more information.
To become an internal auditor, you don’t have to be an accountant although it could be an advantage in certain jobs. If you are new to internal audit, you may find it helpful to take the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Certificate in Internal Audit and Business Risk. See the Qualifications section of the Institute’s website for more details.
Training and Development
To qualify as an authorised external auditor, you must:
- have been a qualified chartered accountant for at least two years, and
- hold a practising certificate and audit qualification from your professional body.
To achieve the practising certificate, you must submit a record of your professional experience since qualifying. The way to gain the audit qualification will depend on the accountancy body you qualified with. For example:
- ICAEW, ICAS, ICAI or AIA – at least one third of the post-qualifying experience in your professional training record must come from an auditing role
- ACCA – you must have taken the Audit and Assurance exam option during your training, and later pass an Audit Orientation Course and Test.
As an experienced internal auditor, you could take further qualifications and training from the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), such as:
- Diploma in Internal Audit Practice
- Advanced Diploma in Internal Auditing and Management.
Skills and Knowledge
- the ability to interpret figures and information
- excellent mathematical and IT skills
- good spoken and written communication skills
- strong analytical and problem-solving ability
- good organisational and time management skills
- a high degree of accuracy and attention to detail
- the ability to work both independently and as part of a team
- a good understanding of business
- honesty and discretion, for dealing with sensitive business information.
As an external auditor you could work for a firm of chartered accountants, or in the public sector for the National Audit Office (which audits central government departments).
As an internal auditor you could work for large companies in all kinds of industry, public sector organisations, or for firms that provide internal audit services to clients.
Jobs may be advertised in the local, national and industry press, and by specialist recruitment agencies.
With experience, you could specialise in an area such as taxation, insolvency or forensic accounting. You could also move into management or choose to work freelance.