An IT auditor participates in projects and assignments that improve internal processes and performances. They report problems, analyze data and increase internal controls. The bulk of their work involves the collection and examination of data from database, software programs and information management systems. Most IT auditors work for in the fields of finance, education, technology, compliance and health care.
IT auditors who work in finance or accounting firms will evaluate the adequacy and effectiveness of the organization’s IT systems and internal controls against policies and regulations. They may be required to research, interpret, and evaluate the compliance expectations against contractual requirements or government regulations. IT auditors will communicate with external auditors who are either consultants or employed by regulatory bodies. IT auditors provide guidance to coworkers and management regarding accounting discrepancies, compliance vulnerabilities and internal controls.
IT auditors identify, document, summarize and present audit findings to external shareholders, such as regulatory bodies, and internal shareholders, such as executives. Their final reports include optional recommendations and mandatory corrective actions. They will regularly conduct ad-hoc internal reviews and operational audits of IT system components. IT auditors will deal with business ethics, risk management, organizational structure, business processes and governance oversight.
Places of Employment
From the above descriptions, one can really begin to see the wide-ranging applicability of the role of IT auditing professionals today. Whether its an internal risk issue or a matter of IT efficiency across a business computer system, these pros do a bit of it all and can make it better. But where exactly do these specialized workers find employment the most? What types of specific organizations employ them?
Today’s financial institutions are often quite large and complex. Many of these then must rely on a wide range of IT functions and many IT workers. IT auditors are subsequently a necessary component to the picture, working on all kinds of elements of the institution’s IT framework.
Computer Science Research Organizations
Computer science research and development requires many IT components working in tandem with various, other computer and non-computer-based elements. IT auditors are needed here to keep it all working smoothly between the many components. Artificial intelligence, software development, hardware development, and many other types of firms utilize these professionals.
Various Corporations, For-Profit and Non-Profit
There are plenty of other corporations that rely on IT auditors, too. These might have nothing to do with finances or computer science and can include companies that work in insurance, merchandising, sports, travel, or even general manufacturing. If the company utilizes an array of IT and computerized systems, it will likely need some good IT auditors in its midst.
Government agencies provide yet one more venue in which IT auditors are needed. Agencies such as the FBI, IRS, and many others need highly functional IT systems. Enter today’s IT auditors.
IT Auditors must have detailed attention, the ability to re-prioritize tasks throughout the day and extensive expertise in IT systems, infrastructure and applications. They should be customer focused, which means they will have excellent interpersonal skills to influence others, and technical skills, which gives them the ability to identify IT issues and develop corresponding solutions. They should have the ability to create customized solutions of differing scope, flexibility and complexity.
Their excellent analytical and communication skills will help them accurately document and present data in non-technical terms. They should be comfortable interacting with senior managers and external parties, and responsible enough to maintain the confidentiality of sensitive information. They must know how to organize, schedule and adjust workloads to meet established deadlines and milestones. They must know how to establish, execute and evaluate risk-based plans and monitoring programs.
Most employers will want them to possess the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification through The Institute of Internal Auditors. In order to qualify for the exam, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and a letter from their accredited university confirming their degree. Candidates may also qualify for the CIA if they have two years post-secondary education and five years of internal auditing experience.
Exam candidates with a four-year degree must have at least two years of work experience related to internal auditing. Alternatively, candidates may substitute a master’s degree for one year of the required two years of work. Exam candidates must submit a signed Character Reference Form that is approved by a current internal auditor. The exam covers internal audit basics, such as risk concepts and internal controls, and strategic and operational audit management.
In so many professional roles through time, there have been hierarchies surrounding each of those roles. These hierarchies might consist of attached titles such as “apprentice” or “master”, or they may be seen through the distinction of differing professional roles surrounding the one of focus. In the IT auditing profession, hierarchical stance is seen by way of a variety of mechanisms.
In some organizations, IT auditors hold a position that requires some prior experience in the company in order to have. In other companies, there is no hierarchical implication for IT auditors, and they are hired and hold a distinct position all their own in that company. In other companies still, IT auditing roles can lead to other roles that are considered more important, or hierarchically higher, in the organization. Ultimately, it is up to each employer and their needs as to if or how IT auditors fit into a particular hierarchy.
Job Outlook, Earning Potentials
IT auditors enjoy a very healthy, overall earning potential as well as job outlook. As to earning potential, the career experts at Indeed give the average worker in this role an income of about $95,367 per year. This is the average figure, with many earning considerably more. In addition, the average worker in this role will receive about $7,000 in various bonuses per year. The highest-paying locations for IT auditors are Washington, DC, New York, NY, and Atlanta, GA. At the other end of the spectrum, Dallas, Austin, and Houston, Texas represent some of the lower-paying locales for the role.
Indeed also cites a solid job satisfaction rate for IT auditors of 74%. Common benefits for those working in this role include health insurance coverage, family leave, flex spending accounts, 401(K) matching, tuition reimbursement, parental leave, and military leave. Child care coverages are also a common and very valuable perk for many parents working as IT auditors.
As to the job outlook of today’s IT auditors, the Bureau of Labor Statistics cites a 10% increase in demand for the field through 2029. Classified by the bureau as computer and information systems managers, IT auditors are part of a group of workers who don’t have to be concerned drops in career demand rates anytime soon. This is great news for those just starting into IT auditing.
History of the Role
It’s hard to say with absolute certainty who was the first IT auditor or which organization was the first to offer this specific position. However, the need for such a worker would have emerged with the first organizational arrays of IT use. The era of emerging, widespread IT use in organizations really began in the 1990s and hasn’t ceased since. Since then, many occupations have existed that took on individual components of the job of today’s IT auditing pros. Now, many of those roles have merged into one role – that of modern IT auditors.
The Future Shape of IT Auditing
The future of the IT auditing profession we know today may certainly change to fit the needs of the greater professional world. It’s unlikely to become a lost or obsolete line of work, but it could very well change in shape and function. IT auditors of tomorrow will likely need to manage much more complex IT systems and tools within those systems. These systems will also likely include more artificial intelligence and quantum computing elements.
As we know already, IT auditors perform many of the same tasks required of some other occupations. They also work closely with a number of similarly-minded professionals. The following vocations represent some of those closest related to the role of IT auditors today.
A risk manager is someone who takes the helm of an organization’s handling of risks. These professionals are constantly weighing the risks versus the benefits of all kinds of concepts within their organizations. The more beneficial and less risky something is to a company, the better it is, generally. Todays risk managers make an average of about $120,146 annually.
Information Risk Analyst
Much like risk managers, information risk analysts also work almost entirely focused on risks. The analyst, however, simply determines and analyzes risks and doesn’t typically make subsequent decisions acting on those risks such as the risk manager. “Information risk” specifically is risk involving information, its use, storage, management, and so on. Information risk analysts earn an average pay of around $94,000 annually.
IT Security Specialist
As their title suggests, IT security specialists focus their work on providing security for an organization at the IT level. By utilizing all of their skills, experience, and system tools, these experts aim to create a fully secure computer system for their organizations. Working in this role similar to and in close proximity to IT auditors will earn the worker an average of $105,755 each year.
Senior Internal Auditor
Internal auditors work to audit their respective, employing organizations, making sure that all protocol are followed and all activity and records are correct. Senior auditors also perform this type of work but at a managerial level that provides additional leverage and the capability to act on audit results. This job is also quite similar to that of today’s IT auditors and can also require interaction with IT auditors. A year’s salary for those working in this important role averages at about $86,380.
Associated Professional Organizations
Whether you’re already seasoned from a career in the field or just getting started learning about the IT auditing career path, there are a number of great professional associations that are closely tied to the profession and similar work specialties that are worth looking into. The following represent some of the best professional associations in relation to IT auditing.
Association for Information Technology Professionals
The Association for Information Technology Professionals, or AITP for short, is an excellent resource for all types of IT professionals including IT auditors. Here, a comprehensive network of IT pros and contacts is organized into local chapters of which anyone can become a part of. There is even a subdivision within AITP that focuses solely on the academia and publishing side of IT work that can help to get members’ work published.
Association for Computer Machinery
The Association for Computer Machinery is another, great contact choice to stay aware of. This association is built around the computing industry and its workers and holds extensive contacts and resources therein. Scholarships and fellowships are a common offering of the ACM as are seminars, podcasts, meet-ups, and plenty of other, great functions. Over 100,000 members are active at the ACM.
Information Systems Audit and Control Association
The Information Systems Audit and Control Association, also more commonly referred to as ISACA, is a leading auditing and IT auditing professional association. This association is a self-professed “global business and technology community” and holds a primary mission goal of balancing and shaping the world of IT and its governance. The group originally started up in 1969 as an auditor association but eventually expanded to its current shape and goals. There are extensive benefits to being a member of ISACA as well as holding one of its highly-respected certificates.
Network Professional Association
The NPA, or Network Professional Association, is yet one more, great professional association that IT auditors and even simply those curious about the profession or similar professions can utilize to learn more. The NPA offers many educational opportunities through its webinars, seminars, meetings, and online resources in addition to a generous network of likeminded professionals with which to get in touch with. Membership is also highly affordable when compared to many, other professional organizations out there.
Most IT auditors will have a degree in computer science, information technology or management information systems. They may also have a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in accounting or technology.
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