Top 5 Misconceptions About Being an Auditor

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An exciting and growth-oriented career, auditing offers recent grads an opportunity to learn about new industries like media and tech while also developing their knowledge of accounting and business operations. Despite the fact that it’s a stable career with high earning potential, there are some common misconceptions about auditing that seem to keep popping up. To set the record straight, we sat down with the team at the CAQ (Center for Audit Quality) to find out what it’s really like to be an auditor.

Here are the top five misconceptions about being an auditor.

1. Auditing isn’t a very exciting career path

If you’ve ever heard a joke about accounting or auditing, you know that the punchline is almost always about it being a boring profession. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, being an auditor gives you exposure to a diverse range of industries and companies, meaning you’ll always be learning about new business trends and meeting with leaders in almost every industry – all while working in a collaborative team environment made up mostly of your peers who often become your friends and colleagues for life.

Added bonus: According to the CAQ, auditors who work for public accounting firms get to work on a variety of cool projects including counting votes for popular award shows like the Oscars and the Grammys.

2. Auditors spend most of their time crunching numbers

Another common misconception about auditing is that it’s mostly about analyzing financial statements. Although this is definitely a part of an auditor’s job, it’s not the only part. Auditors also spend time meeting with company executives, conducting site visits, and learning about the company’s particular industries. This background knowledge helps auditors understand how the company they are auditing carries out their day-to-day business activities and makes auditing a well-rounded profession that is about much more than number crunching. Auditing also requires a questioning-mindset, objectivity, and judgment skills.

3. Auditing is mostly a desk job

The idea that auditing is mostly a desk job goes hand-in-hand with the notion that auditors spend most of their time working alone analyzing financial statements. In reality, the opposite is true. Because auditors attend frequent client meetings, they often travel to company sites all over the country (and sometimes the world). And because some auditing work can be done autonomously, auditors are also able to work remotely. “One great thing about this job is that my desk is in my backpack. I can basically set up wherever I want,” explains Jesse, an auditor from Atlanta who spoke with the CAQ about his decision to go into auditing.

4. You need a CPA license to be an auditor

One of the biggest misconceptions about being an auditor is that you need to pass the CPA exam before you can get started. In fact, many auditors are not CPAs, and having your CPA license is not a requirement for the first several years at the job. However, the experts at the CAQ recommend taking the exam for two reasons: 1) It will increase your earning potential, and 2) It will help you stand out from the crowd when it comes to finding new opportunities.

5. Auditors do not have a lot of work-life flexibility

The final misconception about auditing is that employees do not have work-life flexibility. While there may be less flexibility for some auditors during busy season (when companies are filing their annual financial statements or 10Ks), for the most part, auditing offers a lot of flexibility and a well-balanced schedule. “Auditors work hard but we also have a pretty good work-life balance,” says Ashley, an auditor from Miami who refers to that balance as one of the key benefits of the job.

Although auditing is sometimes jokingly described as a not-so-exciting career involving a lot of long hours, the truth is that it offers both variety and opportunities for continued development. By knowing what to expect, you’ll have a clear understanding of your potential career path and you’ll be able to decide whether auditing is right for you.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Be a Team Player and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?

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By Troy Hopkins
Troy Hopkins Director, Undergraduate Career Counseling