Internal auditors with advanced levels of education, training and certifications are seeing bigger salaries, according to a new survey.

The survey, from the Audit Executive Center at the Institute of Internal Auditors, found a strong correlation between higher internal audit salaries and experience, education and professional certifications. Overall, salary increases were modest, albeit consistent across the profession.

Higher levels of education translated into higher pay among the survey respondents. Internal auditors who hold a master’s degree earn 13 percent more than those with a bachelor’s degree. Those attaining a professional certification, such as the IIA’s Certified Internal Auditor, tend to earn 43 percent more than non-certified colleagues. The highest median salary was associated with the Certification in Risk Management Assurance, although only 7 percent of auditors were reported to hold this relatively new IIA certification.

Pay for staff-level information technology auditors fell more than 9 percent in the past year, but IT auditors with higher skill levels are still in demand. Median pay for auditors holding the Certified Information Systems Auditor, a credential from the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, rose more than 4 percent.

In-depth technical knowledge is in demand, but breadth of knowledge also translates into higher pay. Auditors in the United States with expertise in such areas as fraud examination and forensic auditing, IT and environmental auditing receive significantly higher compensation than those who perform only financial and operational audits. Each additional area of expertise increased salaries by about $9,700.

“Findings of the IIA’s annual compensation study show that continuing education and training are invaluable assets for internal auditors,” said IIA chairman Larry Harrington in a statement. “The study offers key benchmarking information about salaries and important insight in terms of both internal audit’s value to organizations and which specializations are most in demand. The information is crucial both for those doing the hiring and for internal auditors navigating significant changes in expectations and demands on the internal audit function.”

The study analyzed salary data of 1,589 internal auditors employed at 248 organizations in the U.S. and Canada. It found median salaries generally holding steady or dropping slightly during the past year. With inflation at less than 1 percent, flat salaries were not surprising.

A complete report on the survey findings is available through the IIA Research Foundation Bookstore. The IIA plans to host an informational webinar on the compensation study later this year.

In a separate study released Tuesday, the IIA’s Financial Services Audit Center found that more than half of internal audit professionals in the financial services sector consider corporate culture a major risk in their organizations, but less than 10 percent have programs specifically dedicated to auditing culture.

The poll found that 56 percent of respondents, from chief audit executives to partners, consider culture a high risk for the organization. Concern was higher among directors and senior managers, with 62 percent considering culture a high risk. Only 7 percent of the survey respondents reported having specific audit programs focused on organizational culture.

“This survey tells us, at this point in time, there is quite a bit of work to be done,” said IIA president and CEO Richard F. Chambers. “This survey is eye-opening in that professionals at all levels of internal audit, from CAEs to outside consultants, identify culture as high risk for their organizations. Yet, there are so few dedicated programs in place to audit organizational culture.”

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