Audit and Assurance Accountants


Education and Training Requirements

High School

A solid understanding of mathematics is required for accounting work. While in high school, be sure to take as many math classes as possible, including algebra, geometry, and calculus. Business classes are also essential. Accountants use computers and various software for their research and reports, so round out your curriculum with computer science classes as well as English and writing classes.

Postsecondary Education

Most audit and assurance accountants hold a bachelor's degree in accounting or a similar field. Some jobs may require a master's degree in accounting or in business administration with a focus on audit and assurance accounting. According to the Department of Labor, some colleges and universities may have specialized degree programs, such as a bachelor's degree in internal auditing. The typical curriculum for a bachelor's degree program in accounting includes math, statistics, economics, finance, business law, humanities and English requirements, as well as natural and behavioral science. Students also participate in an internship program while in school to gain practical work experience. In some instances, employers may hire individuals with an associate's degree or prior bookkeeping and accounting clerk experience for junior accountant positions.


Many audit and assurance accountants are certified as public accountants. In addition to this certification, they may receive certification offered through professional associations to further their careers. For example, the Institute of Management Accountants awards the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation to applicants who have two years of prior management accounting experience, have passed a two-part exam, and who agree to meet continuing education requirements. The Institute of Internal Auditors offers the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) credential to internal auditors with two years of prior experience, who have graduated from accredited colleges and universities, and who pass a four-part exam.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Many audit and assurance accountants are certified. Certification is required of all accountants who file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Many accountants become certified to improve their job prospects and to grow their business. Accountants are certified by their state's Board of Accountancy. State requirements for certification vary, but what is universal is that accountants must pass a national exam. To qualify, they must have completed 150 semester hours of college course work; this is more hours than most bachelor's degrees. Students may enroll in a five-year bachelor's degree program to meet the 150-hour requirement. Some states allow accounting work experience to substitute for college degree requirements. Many states require two years of prior public accounting experience to qualify for a CPA certificate. Check with your state's Board of Accountancy or the AICPA Web site (https://www.aicpa.org/becomeacpa) for CPA requirements for your state.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Employers prefer to hire audit and assurance accountants with a bachelor's degree and several years of accounting experience. Many gain entry to the field through an internship in an accounting firm while in school.

Strong math and organizational skills are needed to do this type of work. Audit and assurance accountants must be analytical and detail oriented to pinpoint issues and discrepancies in documentation and determine solutions. Their work is critical for minimizing tax liabilities, detecting fraud, and assuring accurate financial reporting. They work well independently and also know how to work well on a team. They are also able to write well and communicate clearly, both of which are essential for writing reports and discussing business issues with clients.