The Institute of Internal Auditors credits corporate scandals, Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, and a renewed focus on protecting stakeholder interests as the driving forces behind the growth of the internal audit profession.
As a result, a record number of internal auditor jobs have opened to an enhanced perception of the position as well as higher salaries.
IIA reported common misconceptions of what internal auditors do include negative stereotypes, such as "the gotcha-guys," "the financial police," and "the IRS," when in actuality, internal auditors are business generalists who specialize in efficiency and effectiveness for the good of the organization.
"One of the internal audit profession's greatest challenges is clarifying its role, responsibilities, and true value," said IIA Chief Advocacy Officer Dominique Vincenti, CIA. "The global business community is starting to understand that internal auditors serve as a safety net and sounding board for management and the board; not only by bringing improprieties to light, but also by examining and assessing the organization's strategic, operational, information disclosure and compliance risks."
According to a 2007 salary survey by Robert Half, Inc., an international financial services recruiting and placement firm, internal auditing is one of the top five high-growth professions of the year. On average, salaries for internal auditors have increased by approximately 18 percent since 2004.
The number of internal auditors who have earned their Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) designation, a global designation that demonstrates internal audit competency, has risen 80 percent since 2001. IIA membership has increased 72 percent to more than 130,000 over the last five years.
As the baby-boomer generation retires, those leading the profession want to ensure there will be enough trained internal auditors ready to take their place. Rather than continuing to pull practitioners from sister professions such as public accounting and external auditing and depending solely on on-the-job training for skill development, IIA is sponroring a program that recruits universities around the world to provide internal audit-specific curricula and ideally to establish internal audit majors. College students can take the CIA exam before graduation. Later, when they obtain the requisite experience, those who qualify can become full-fledged CIAs.
"This is the largest job market we've seen in 22 years," said Glenn Summers, CIA, PhD, director of the internal audit studies at Louisiana State University, which is one of the nation's leading IAEP schools. "The demand for internal auditors is now so high that many companies are extending early job offers to college juniors in the hope of securing them early for employment."