Did you know you could become a government auditor for the FBI?
The life of a government auditor won’t look like Criminal Minds, but it’s still a vital position that lets you do a lot of good.
Here, we’re breaking down what a government auditor is, what they do, and how you can become one.
What Is a Government Auditor?
If you love numbers, but want to do more than crunch them for a company, you might be interested in a government auditor job.
General auditors help prepare and examine financial records to ensure that the financial information is accurate, that bills and taxes have been paid on time, and that financial operations are efficient and compliant with the law.
Government auditors in particular help prepare, maintain and examine financial records for government agencies, private companies under government regulation, and companies holding government contracts.
They often detect embezzlement and fraud to ensure that revenue has been obtained legally within the limits of existing regulation, to evaluate risk management, and to analyze agency accounting controls.
What Does a Government Auditor Do?
So, what does a government auditor actually do?
The exact role of the auditor depends on the agency and auditor in question. However, the common duties of an auditor include:
- Organizing and maintaining financial records
- Examining financial statements to ensure compliance with state and federal laws
- Compute taxes, prepare taxes owed, and ensure taxes are paid on time
- Assess financial operations
- Make best-practice financial recommendations to management
- Inspect account books for efficiency
- Suggest ways to reduce costs and enhance revenues
Auditors may be employed by the local, state, or federal governments. And they may work for a variety of offices and agencies within any of those governments.
How Much Does a Government Accountant Make?
With that in mind, you might be wondering: how much can you make in this job?
The median annual wage for accountants and auditors overall was $69,350 as of May 2017. For government auditors specifically, the median wage was around $67,100.
Keep in mind that this pay can vary based on where you live, what government entity you work for, and how experienced you are. The federal government typically offers locality pay, which can be calculated using the OPM calculator and wage tables.
Most accountants and auditors work full time, especially if they work for the government. They may not be able to work at certain times, however, if the government shuts down.
As of 2016, about one in five auditors worked more than 40 hours per week. They may work longer hours during tax season and other busy times.
Job Growth Outlook
According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, employment for accountants and auditors is expected to grow by 10% between 2016 and 2026, faster than average for all occupations.
This is attributed to rising globalization, a growing economy, and a complex tax and regulatory environment.
As a rule, the job growth of auditors and accountants is tied to the overall health of the economy, so when the economy is on an upswing, auditors and accountants usually follow.
How to Become an Auditor for the Government
Interested in becoming a government auditor?
Before you dive in, it’s important to know what you need to succeed in this job. Luckily, it’s not too difficult to figure out what direction to head in first.
What You’ll Need
Good auditors have a specific combination of personal and professional skills. Before you start honing your professional qualifications, it’s important to see if your personal qualities are well suited to the role.
For starters, auditors must have a strong ethical foundation. With all the incorrect numbers you’ll see in the course of your career, you might be tempted to let it pass. People are counting on you to find out the errors and frauds, and you should always take that seriously.
In addition, auditors must be able to step back from the individual numbers to look at the bigger picture. This requires an ability to step back and frame a picture of the organization that accounts for key attributes, connections, and linkages to form a logical approach to an audit.
You should also have excellent people skills.
You might be surprised to hear this because many people think the role is all about ticking numbers. It’s not. It’s also about people.
In many cases, employees fear and distrust an auditor looking over their shoulder. As such, the auditor must be able to put personnel at ease and empathize from their perspective.
They should also be able to listen. An auditor who fills in an answer with their own assumptions may miss the bigger picture entirely.
Then, there are your professional qualifications. Auditors should have a thorough understanding of the principles, theory, and practice of accountancy. Along with that, they should also have a deep understanding of tax law, the various branches of accounting, and various accounting systems.
Degree and Certifications
Most government auditor positions require at least a Bachelor’s degree for entry into the field.
This degree tends to be in accounting, finance, or a related field. You want a degree that will show off your proficiency with numbers. Aspiring auditors with graduate degrees have an edge on the competition.
Once you’ve attained your degree, you may also want to take the Certified Public Accountant exam, which certifies you as an accountant.