Auditors are a specialized branch of the accounting profession. While other accountants direct or document the movements of money through an enterprise, internal auditors are responsible for analyzing and developing accounting procedures and ensuring they're followed. They also monitor operations for signs of funds being misused, either deliberately or by inappropriate practices. It's a responsible position, and senior auditors can rise to six-figure salary levels.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics groups auditors with their accounting peers for reporting purposes. The May 2011 Occupational Employment Statistics report a median income of $62,850 per year for accountants and auditors in general. The lowest-earning 25 percent reported incomes of up to $48,920 per year, while the highest-earning 25 percent earned $83,210 or more. However, the bureau doesn't specifically report on the earnings of internal auditors. For that, it's necessary to refer to industry surveys.
Internal Auditor Salaries:
In its 2012 salary guide, staffing firm Robert Half Finance and Accounting reports salary ranges for corporate positions across the United States. In companies with $250 million or less in annual sales, internal auditors with one to three years' experience reported salaries of $49,500 to $65,500 per year. Senior auditors earned $62,750 to $80,750 per year, while the range for audit managers was $76,250 to $101,500 per year. In companies with more than $250 million per year in revenues, salaries were higher across the board. New auditors averaged $53,250 to $70,750 per year, while senior auditors earned $69,750 to $90,250. Audit managers in larger companies earned $87,750 to $121,000 per year.
Senior Positions and Regional Variation:
Before moving into upper management, the most senior auditing position is that of the audit director, sometimes known as the vice president for internal auditing or chief audit executive. In companies with less than $250 million in annual revenues, the salary range for that position was $99,500 to $135,000. In companies with $250 million to $500 million in sales, that rises to a range of $120,250 to $170,750. Audit directors in companies with over $500 million in revenues earn $152,750 to $231,00 in salary. These are national averages, and are subject to regional variation. For example, a national average of $99,500 would equal $85,570 in Mobile, Alabama, but $129,350 in the District of Columbia.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for accountants and auditors will grow by 16 percent between 2010 and 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. However, the bureau points out that demand for auditors should be higher, given an increasingly stringent and complex regulatory environment. It also foresees high demand for those who earn their certified public accountant designation, or CPA, especially in conjunction with a master's degree in business. The Robert Half firm's salary guide corroborates this, describing the CPA as its most-requested credential.