Auditors conduct financial reviews that are designed to ensure that individuals and entities are abiding by financial accounting and tax reporting laws. Typically, auditor qualifications include an undergraduate degree although some auditors have also completed advanced degree programs. Candidates for these positions should have training or experience in bookkeeping or accounting, and knowledge of certain software programs can be helpful. In many instances, audits are conducted by certified accountants in which case auditor qualifications include an accounting license.
Tax returns, general account ledgers, sales contracts, receipts and invoices are among the types of documents that are normally reviewed during an audit. The person conducting the audit must ensure that financial transactions have been properly recorded and that no sums of money are unaccounted for. Due to the nature of the work, auditor qualifications often include an undergraduate degree in mathematics, finance, accounting or economics. Some auditors take postgraduate degree courses in forensic accounting and these courses are specifically designed to prepare accountants to piece together financial information during criminal investigations. Police departments sometimes contract forensic accountants during investigations involving money laundering and other financial crimes.
Laws in many nations require publicly traded firms to hire outside accountants to perform annual audits. In most instances, these accountants must have successfully passed a government administered licensing examination. Some accounting industry associations organize a variety of different accounting exam courses that are designed to prepare accountants to perform different kinds of audits. Auditor qualifications as listed in job postings usually include successful completion of licensing exams but may also include certificates of completion from industry association sponsored auditing courses.
While financial audits are normally led by licensed accountants, much of the auditing process involves physically gathering files and making copies of documents. The clerks who perform these tasks do not typically have to be licensed. In many instances, the auditor qualifications for people employed in these junior positions include a high school diploma and some prior bookkeeping or administrative experience. Some firms require junior clerks to have prior experience using certain types of software; people who lack such experience may be able to land these jobs after completing short-term community college training courses.
Many accounting firms specialize in auditing firms that are involved in certain industries such as banking or the insurance companies. Some of these firms prefer to hire auditors who have some industry knowledge in which case desired auditor qualifications as detailed on job postings may include prior experience as a lender, insurance agent or investment banker. Additionally, audits of multi-national firms often involve overseas locations in which case auditors may need to have second language skills.