How to become an auditor

What does an auditor do?

Auditors can conduct either internal audits or external statutory audits. External statutory audits are independent assessments of the financial position of business within a standard framework, and are required by law; internal audits are reviews of the performance, profitability, stock control or costs of a business that is conducted within an organisation by their own employees. External auditors are primarily concerned with financial reporting, and plan and implement a series of audit tests on a company's records with the intention of showing a 'true and fair view' of the profit and loss for that year.

Their duties include:

  • examining company accounts
  • collating and interpreting evidence
  • assessing the financial risks to a business
  • appraising control systems
  • establishing productive working relationships with clients
  • discussing financial transactions with clients
  • conveying findings and recommendations.

Central and local government departments are also audited to check on how public money is being spent and to see if any savings can be made.

Internal audits can be carried out for a variety of reasons, eg wage reviews at the request of senior management or as part of the a regular cycle to check that policies and procedures are being followed correctly.


What's the working environment like for an auditor?

Auditors normally work 35-40 hours per week, Monday to Friday. However, in order to meet deadlines they sometimes have to work longer hours including evenings and weekends. Some travelling is involved in this job and auditors may have to spend nights away from home. It may be possible to work part-time.

The work is carried out on the auditor’s premises, in the client’s office on a laptop or by using the company’s own computers. To make a check on stock or equipment auditors might have to visit other workplaces such as warehouses, factories and building sites.

What does it take to become an auditor?

To be an auditor you should:

  • be able to interpret data and evidence
  • be competent in the use of IT
  • be a good communicator to convey information in writing and verbally
  • have an enquiring mind and the tenacity to solve complex problems
  • be able to manage a busy workload, often under pressure and maintain attention to detail
  • be comfortable working as part of a team and supervising others
  • have a thorough understanding of business management
  • be discreet and honest as some information may be sensitive.

There are different routes into this profession depending on the type of auditor you want to become. 

Internal auditors aren't permitted to be accountants, however an accountancy background can be useful as well as experience in finance and banking. A Levels and further training may be needed and you'll normally join a company as a trainee auditor to get you started. 

Becoming an external auditor is a little different. You'll need to be a qualified chartered accountant and obtain membership with an official professional body. These include the ACCA, AIA and the ICAEW.

You can work your way into external auditing through a graduate training scheme after completing an accountancy degree - this can also be a company's graduate scheme. There may be higher apprenticeships available, which will give you excellent on the job experience or you could apply for the National Audit Office's three year training scheme. 

Auditor career opportunities

External auditors work for firms of chartered or certified accountants, for the National Audit Office (which audits central government departments) or the Audit Commission (the Accounts Commission in Scotland) which audits local authorities, the NHS and other public bodies.

Internal auditors work for commercial companies or public sector organisations, or may be self-employed. There are opportunities to specialise in areas such as taxation or insolvency or to work overseas with large international accountancy firms and with private companies.

Further information

If you would like to learn more about becoming an auditor that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
2 Central Quay
89 Hydepark Street
G3 8DT
Tel: 0141 582 2000

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
Tel: 020 7920 8100

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
Tel: 0131 347 0161

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI)
Tel: 028 9032 1600

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA)
3 Robert Street
Tel: 020 7543 5600

Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB)

Financial Services Skills Council (FSSC)
51 Gresham Street
Tel: 020 7216 7366