Internal auditors receive modest raises

By Ken Tysiac

Although internal auditors in the United States and Canada generally received modest pay raises in the past year, the median salaries for many U.S. internal audit positions decreased, according to a new survey report.

In the 2015 internal audit compensation study published Tuesday by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), 80% of U.S. respondents reported granting internal audit employees a base salary increase of between 2% and 4%. That’s up slightly from the 79% that received raises of 2% to 4% the previous year.

Meanwhile, 72% of U.S. organizations participating in the survey are expected to give all of their internal audit employees base pay increases in the next 12 months, an increase from 70% in the 2014 survey and 68% in the 2013 survey.

But median salaries in the United States for nine of the 10 internal audit positions represented in the survey decreased from last year. The lone exception was IT audit director, which increased by 2.4%. Overall, the median salaries across the 10 positions in the survey dropped by an average of 2.8% compared with last year.

Among Canadian respondents, 59% of organizations gave internal audit employees salary increases of 2% to 4% in the past 12 months; that’s down from 62% the previous year. And 54% of Canadian respondents expect their organizations to give base pay increases to all internal audit employees, down from 71% in the 2014 survey and 79% in the 2013 survey.

But median salaries increased among Canadian respondents for all four internal audit positions represented in the survey.

The survey showed that internal auditors can increase their compensation, though, by acquiring skills that are in high demand. Auditors in the United States with expertise in areas such as fraud/forensic accounting, IT, or environmental auditing are paid significantly more than those who perform only operational audits, according to the survey. The survey data show that each additional area of expertise increased salaries by about $9,700.

Higher levels of education also can lead to higher pay, as internal auditors who hold a master’s degree earn 13% more than those with a bachelor’s degree.

The news from the survey wasn’t good for all internal auditors who have additional skills. Pay for staff-level information technology auditors fell more than 9% in the past year. However, salary levels for this position have been volatile in recent years, with a 7% decrease in 2013 followed by an 8% increase in 2014.

Ken Tysiac (ktysiac@aicpa.org) is a JofA editorial director.

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