By Frank Byrt
It's a great time to be a corporate internal auditor – pay and perks for the profession are growing at a faster pace than most other jobs.
Internal auditors in the United States and Canada received a median 3 percent increase in their base salaries in 2012, the second year in a row they've seen an increase. That pace of growth is expected to continue this year, according to the Institute of Internal Auditors's (IIA's) 2012 Internal Audit Compensation Study, which includes data on about 1,800 internal auditors at more than 300 companies in the United States and Canada.
In addition, 87 percent of the US firms surveyed said they expect to increase internal audit salaries at about the same rate this year, while 93 percent of the Canadian firms said they will.
Last year, 35 percent of the US companies surveyed increased salaries for all employees, but 64 gave raises to all of their internal auditors, up from 60 percent in 2011 and 28 percent in 2010. In Canada, 58 percent raised pay for all employees last year, but 83 percent did so for their internal audit staff, up from 71 percent in 2011 and 56 percent in 2010.
Survey respondents said that the impetus for the raises is that increasing regulatory compliance demands are bringing internal audit performance to the forefront in many organizations. "Internal audit's compensation is based on its assurance work, which includes identifying problems and risks that could prevent the organization from meeting its objectives, financial or otherwise," according to the report.
Particularly in demand are internal auditors specializing in information technology, fraud, and forensics, the survey found. Environmental, health, and safety auditors also tend to earn higher salaries than those performing financial and operational audits.
Those with expertise in IT audit earned a median salary of $96,000, compared to $91,499 for fraud and forensic auditing, and $81,867 for generalists.
Professional certifications were also found to contribute to higher salaries, as internal auditors who are certified in one or more areas earn about $20,000 a year more than noncertified auditors.
Finally, companies are seen offering nontraditional forms of compensation to augment base salaries and reward high-performing auditors and to help attract new ones. Perks often include awarding an extra day off after the completion of intensive or long work assignments, a move to make staffers feel appreciated and keep productivity levels high; flexible work schedules; an array of wellness programs; and travel and tuition reimbursement.
The report is available for purchase on the IIA website