- What do external auditors do?
- External auditor career path
- External auditor salaries
- Qualifications and training
- External auditor skills
- Pros and cons of being an external auditor
- External auditor work-life balance
- Typical employers
- Related jobs
Do you have great analytical skills? Do you love looking into minute details? If you want a job that involves investigating many organisations, a career as an external auditor could be perfect for you.
Are you interested in a career as an external auditor? Explore the financial services graduate opportunities available to you right now.
What do external auditors do?
External auditors work in a contract position coming into organisations, your clients, that hire them to complete their audit. An audit checks for any instances where the organisation’s activities go against internal policy, external regulations or the country’s laws. As an external auditor, you act as a safety net to make sure the organisation doesn’t get into trouble later on. Here are the tasks that you have as an external auditor:
- Meeting with clients to understand the specific area that they want to be audited.
- Research policies, regulations and laws so you understand what to look for.
- Conduct your analysis using data provided by the department.
- Coming to conclusions based on the data.
- Presenting your conclusions to the client and your colleagues and writing up a report discussing your work.
External auditor career path
Working as an external auditor has good career growth potential. It also gives you the option to look into other career options. If you like the auditing side of the job but want to work for a single organisation rather than a consulting firm and move around based on contracts, you can become an internal auditor. If you like moving around to lots of different organisations but don’t like the auditing side, you can explore other types of consulting, for example, strategy consultant. If you want to work as an external auditor, here is the career path you could go on:
Many external auditors start their careers as junior external auditors or trainee auditors. This role is intended to teach you all the practical skills you need for your future work. Your responsibilities include working with senior colleagues to conduct audits, meeting with clients to discuss the work you’re doing,
With experience and growth in your skillset, you become a mid-level external auditor. In this role, you have more freedom than in a junior position, conducting your own audits and working on your own projects. Whilst you may discuss any issues with your colleagues, you don’t typically have to have your work signed off. Your responsibilities are conducting audits, speaking to clients, presenting to stakeholders and doing a lot of data analysis.
With lots of experience and a good track record, you progress to a senior external auditor role. In this role, you have the same tasks as a mid-level job but with more responsibility. You work with bigger clients or on more complex projects. You also provide training to junior colleagues, making sure they don’t have any problems with the work and can get on with it. You provide any assistance that you need and sign off on the work when you’re satisfied with it.
External auditor salaries
Along with good career progression, you can unlock good salaries within an external auditor role. The specific wage you earn depends on the company you work for, its size and geographic location. Here are the salaries that you could earn as an external auditor:
- In an entry-level role like a junior external auditor or trainee auditor, you earn between £20,000 and £30,000 per year.
- As a mid-level external auditor, you earn between £25,000 and £40,000 per year.
- As a senior external auditor, you earn between £40,000 and £60,000 per year.
Qualifications and training
Having the right education and experience sets you up really well to get into the external auditor career path. Here are the qualifications and training you need to work as an external auditor:
Most external auditors have an undergraduate degree in accounting or finance. These degrees teach you the background knowledge that you need for the job. Having a master’s degree isn’t typically a requirement of the role.
If you want to explore other options, you could look into an apprenticeship. In an apprenticeship, you learn how to do the job by working in it. Industry experts currently working in the field show you everything you need to do to succeed. Doing an apprenticeship teaches you the skills that are directly relevant to the job, shows you how to work in the environment and gives you the opportunity to make connections and even secure a job after you complete it. If you’re interested in an apprenticeship in external auditing, you can explore the available positions with the government’s apprenticeship search tool.
Doing some work experience can help you impress a hiring manager and secure an external auditor role. You can get some work experience by doing an internship. This involves working for a consulting firm and helping the team with ongoing auditing projects. Doing an internship teaches you the practical skills you need for your career and helps you learn about the environment that you’ll be working in. Internships also help you make connections in the field and might even secure you a job after you graduate. If you’re interested in internships, explore the current financial services sector internships available.
Whilst you don’t need any specific qualifications for the job, there are some ways to develop your career that you could consider. One is becoming a chartered accountant. This enhances your skills and demonstrates to any potential employer and accountant that you are great at your job. To be a chartered accountant, you should be a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales or The Association of International Accountants. Remember, having chartered status is usually intended for professionals already established in the field rather than graduates or entry-level positions. Read the description carefully on any qualification to make sure it suits the stage you’re at in your career and contact a course administrator if you’re unsure.
External auditor skills
Combining your education and experience with your skills is a great way to impress a hiring manager. Whilst you’ll fully develop many of the skills you need to do the job along the way, having the basic skills and ability helps you begin your first job more successfully. Here are the skills that you need in any external auditing role:
- Attention to detail. Your job is to find minute details that might indicate that a regulation, policy or law has been broken. Having great attention to detail means you won’t miss the important details that you need to observe.
- Analytical skills. Most of your job is combing through data to find patterns and meaning. Being analytically minded helps you do this aspect of your job well.
- Communication. Part of an external auditing role is establishing yourself in the organisation you’re auditing. With great communication skills, you can inform the people working in the organisation of what you need and encourage them to get on board with your work so you all have a successful and stress-free experience. Do you need to brush up on your communication skills? Complete this Bright Network Academy module on developing effective presentation skills.
Pros and cons of being an external auditor
Every job has positive and negative factors. Knowing about the good and the bad parts helps you decide if it’s the right job for you in the long run because you can use them to explore what you want and need from your career. Here are the pros and cons of working in external auditing:
- You get to work with lots of different organisations which teaches you about the range of opportunities out there.
- You get to learn about the roles of different departments in an organisation in detail.
- Working with lots of organisations on lots of different projects keeps the work interesting.
- The role often involves travel.
- Some of the people in the departments you audit might not be happy with the process because they feel unduly observed. This might make the job more difficult for you because they are less willing to cooperate.
- Since you often work in the organisation’s office, you may have to travel a lot which can be difficult when maintaining a good work-life balance.
- Your job is analysing data which can become monotonous and boring.
External auditor work-life balance
As an external auditor, you work standard office hours of 9am to 5pm on Monday to Friday. You might work longer hours around deadlines. The hours you work might change based on the organisation you’re auditing as you adapt your working pattern to fit the company. Generally, the working hours are good for maintaining a positive work-life balance.
Your work is usually at the organisation you’re auditing’s office. This could add additional travel time to your working day or mean you have to live near the office temporarily. This can make maintaining relationships difficult if you’re travelling and impact your life if you decide to have a family.
External auditors usually work with consulting firms. Knowing the type of employers that hire external auditors means you can do your own research and tailor your applications to the organisations that appeal to you most. Here are the typical employers that you could work for: