A day in the life of an auditor

two accountants collaborating

As an accounting student, you have many career paths to choose from. You can enter private industry or public accounting, specialize in taxes or financial reporting, work for the government or investigate financial crimes—to name a few.

If you’re thinking of going into auditing, you may wonder what an auditor’s responsibilities include. What does an auditor do in accounting, and do they have work/life balance? Do they work with a team, or is auditing more of a solitary pursuit?

In this article, we’re sharing a day in the life of an auditor to help you decide whether this is the right career path for you.

What skills do auditors need?

Today, technology handles many of the testing procedures auditors used to perform manually. But make no mistake—while technology undoubtedly makes an auditor’s job easier and more efficient, it doesn’t replace the unique skills an auditor brings to the table.

Auditors need to understand the technical aspects of accounting, auditing, tax law and technology. But they also need the following competencies:

  • Communication. Auditors need to communicate effectively with their team to plan and perform audit procedures. They also need to interview and negotiate with their clients’ employees and board of directors. Being able to simplify complex topics—verbally and in writing—is crucial.
  • Skepticism. Part of an auditor’s job is to prevent and detect intentional or unintentional errors in a company’s financial reporting. This means auditors can’t automatically accept information provided by a client at face value. They need to ask probing questions, critically assess audit evidence, and pay extra attention to red flags and inconsistencies to uncover risks and potential errors.
  • Project management. Financial statement audits are essentially large projects made up of many smaller tasks with team members, assigned deadlines and a final deliverable. To keep the engagement on track and profitable, auditors need to plan their work, stay focused and overcome challenges to deliver their work on time.
  • Initiative. Technology, accounting principles, and auditing standards are constantly evolving, and auditors must stay current on what’s happening in the profession. If you want to be successful, plan to pursue professional designations, certifications and continuing professional education throughout your career.

What does a day in the life of an auditor look like?

So, what does an auditor do? If you’re interested in a career where no two days are exactly alike, auditing might be for you. Auditors work with different kinds of clients, so their day-to-day activities vary. However, most auditors do the following tasks.

Status meetings

Many auditors have weekly meetings—sometimes referred to as “stand-ups”—with their managers and coworkers. These meetings are a chance to update the team on the status of their client engagements and ensure all audit team members know what’s going on with the audit overall and what tasks they need to accomplish that week.

Auditors also meet regularly with clients—either in person, over the phone or via videoconference—to update management on the status of the audit and discuss any issues that arise. Depending on the client, these status meetings might happen daily or weekly.

Audit planning

Audit planning is a crucial part of the audit process. It involves developing a strategy and detailed approach to ensure that all areas of the client’s financials are covered and given appropriate attention.

Planning an audit might include:

  • Reviewing last year’s audit workpapers.
  • Discussing new risks with management.
  • Using technology to assess risk and select audit procedures.
  • Briefing the audit team.
  • Creating an audit schedule.
  • Ensuring the client is on board with the timeline and knows what information they need to provide.

Performing audit procedures

Auditors perform audit procedures to get all the information they need to assess their clients’ numbers and form an opinion on their financial statements. Audit procedures vary from audit to audit and client to client but generally include analytical reviews, inquiry, inspection, observation and recalculation.

Depending on the firm and the client, auditors might perform audit procedures at the client’s place of business, the firm offices or a home office. Remote audits rely heavily on technology, including secure client portals, videoconferencing technology and cloud-based accounting software.

Maintaining work/life balance as an auditor

Auditors tend to work longer hours during certain times of the year. For example, many auditors are busy from January through April performing audits for clients with December 31 year ends. During busy season, it’s common for auditors to work well over 40 hours per week.

To make up for the long hours during certain times of the year, some firms give their staff more paid time off, don’t require them to work on Fridays during the summer, and offer other flexible work and perks.

The deadline-driven nature of auditing can be stressful, but it can also be an excellent springboard to a rewarding career. Many auditors go on to become partners in the firm or CFOs at private corporations, and others end up starting their own businesses.

Auditors who earn a CPA license have more career opportunities than those who don’t. So if auditing or another accounting career path sounds like the right fit for you, Becker is here to help you get CPA Exam Day ReadySM.

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