Think of an IT auditor as the individual responsible for assessing a company's technology infrastructure, hardware, and software to identify strengths as well as areas for improvement.
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Kayla Matthews
Tech journalist

March 10, 2021

Hone your communication skills!

In these tech-centric times, most organizations are fundamentally dependent on the work of information technology teams. In any given industry, IT departments handle a variety of tasks, ranging from network security to computer setups. If you have a mind for details and appreciate knowing that you're an integral part of a company or client's IT needs, you could have a future as an IT auditor.

Keep reading to learn what an IT auditor does, what skills are required, and what steps you should take to start pursuing this career.

What Does an IT Auditor Do?

Think of an IT auditor as the individual responsible for assessing a company's technology infrastructure, hardware, and software to identify strengths as well as areas for improvement. A client might call upon an IT auditor to troubleshoot known issues and to determine the most appropriate ways to fix them based on the company's resources.

Besides checking to see if a company's current system is operating appropriately, an IT auditor might design new systems to meet present or anticipated needs. In such cases, the IT auditor would be responsible for configuring new setups and for verifying their functionality.

IT auditors must also collaborate with members of their companies’ cybersecurity teams. Together, IT auditors and cybersecurity professionals look for vulnerabilities and keep their networks protected. If a company does not already have processes in place for internal audits and the associated reports, the organization’s IT auditor will typically take a lead role in creating them.

What Are the Skills of an IT Auditor?

As an IT auditor, you must have solid technical and networking skills; this is because you will be navigating a variety of tech infrastructures. It’s also essential to engage in continual education — even after entering the workforce — because the world of IT changes frequently.

Additionally, if you’re serious about learning how to become an IT auditor, you will need to hone your communication skills. IT auditors frequently translate technical jargon into language that other, non-IT professionals can understand. This is particularly important for developing and implementing network security policies for an organization. All employees need to recognize why such policies are in place — and how to follow them. Communication skills make that goal possible. Even if tech does not factor into their primary roles, your coworkers will need to be able to understand the work that you’re doing. As an IT auditor, you will be responsible for making sure that they do.

Ideally, you should also be highly self-motivated and you should operate well without constant supervision. Depending on the situation, a client might hire you on a contract basis for a short period of time and expect you to come into their pre-existing environment to meet defined needs. As such, you’re likely to be travelling between various clients every day or week. To perform your job effectively, you will need to have a flexible mindset and a task-oriented nature.

What Education Do IT Auditors Need?

Developing a career as a successful IT auditor generally requires a bachelor's degree at minimum. Aim to get one in a subject such as computer information systems or information technology. Although you can expect to start working for clients without earning a master's degree, most companies that hire IT auditors want candidates to have participated in at least one IT auditor internship.

If you have your sights set on master's-level education, consider getting a cybersecurity master’s degree. Some of the available programs for computer systems auditing cross over into the cybersecurity realm. And whether you have a bachelor’s or a master’s, you'll likely need to obtain at least one certification. This will require registering for an exam and passing it, then maintaining your certification by acquiring certified professional education (CPE) hours.

The ISACA Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) is one globally recognized option for certification, requiring at least five years of professional experience. Another option is the GIAC Systems and Network Auditor certification, which has no prerequisites.

Companies may not require certifications for entry-level IT auditors. That said, assuming you want to make auditing a long-term career and hope to work in a management role someday, a certification will give you the necessary credibility.

Besides acquiring personal certifications, working as an IT auditor might involve recommending that your clients go through IT-related trainings. One example of this would be the ISO/IEC 27001 Certification, which covers the what and how of an information security management system.

Where Do IT Auditors Work?

Once you become an IT auditor, there are virtually endless possibilities for employment in many areas of business. Recent job postings for the role show openings across the United States at companies including Morgan Stanley and GE.

You will also find plenty of opportunities to work as a consultant contractor. Most of these will be short-term positions, and they may require frequent travel. If a company has an online presence, consider that it may be open to hiring a full-time or consultant IT auditor.

Another indicator that a company will be interested in hiring an IT auditor? If they allow employees to use internet-connected tools for their roles or have a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy. Several years ago, ISACA launched programs for IT auditors that encompassed BYOD policies and other in-demand topics for IT auditors.

What Is the Typical IT Auditor Salary?

Glassdoor indicates the average salary for experienced IT auditors is $68,931 per year; the median entry-level salary is still appealing at $51,457 per year according to ZipRecruiter.

If you possess an IT auditor certification, have an above-average level of training, or have gained experience through a previous job or internship, your earnings potential will go up.

Final Thoughts

When companies fail to properly address faults associated with IT setups, the resulting issues can be time-consuming and costly. As an IT auditor, you will have the experience and authority to thoroughly check systems and make recommendations to avoid many of these problems.

Your own career path may differ slightly from the information provided here. Even so, this guide should give you a good idea of what's ahead should you choose to pursue this exciting and influential career.