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Educating Future Internal Auditors

The role of the internal auditor is expected to expand in the next six years, according to an article published in the December 2013 issue of Internal Auditor magazine published by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). The internal auditor of the future will be expected to play a larger role in identifying and developing plans to mitigate risk. According to Richard Chambers, one of the experts interviewed for the article, “One of the expectations of boards in the future will be for internal audit to help avoid surprises – the idea of being able to identify emerging risks, or to see around the corner, so to speak.” (p. 36-37) Therefore, the internal auditor of the future will be expected to have enhanced expertise and experience in identifying and tackling strategic and operational risks. Knowledge of ERM will be critical.

Accounting programs will need to expand the coverage of concepts in order to adequately prepare graduates for the future internal auditing role. Accounting majors interested in careers in auditing will be well-prepared by programs, like the MPPA program at Ohio Northern University, that provide courses in corporate governance, fraud examination, internal auditing and data analytics.

Accounting programs and concentrations will need to provide expanded coverage of the use of technology for auditing, data analytics and forensic accounting. Computer information systems courses should be expanded to include coverage of technologies that are used for continuous auditing and monitoring.

Additionally, graduates of BSBA-accounting programs will be better prepared to meet the enhanced expectations of internal auditors. Graduates of business administration programs tend to have a well-rounded understanding of business operations. BSBA programs typically include at least one course in operations management, which will provide a knowledge base for operational audits.

In the future, business programs should enhance coverage of enterprise risk management, project management, internal and IT controls, and fraud examination. While these concepts are important for all business professionals, they will be required skillsets for internal auditors. Business programs that provide training in these areas will be best-suited to train the internal auditor of the future.