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Internal control is a function that provides a way for monitoring and measuring an organization's resources, policies and procedures. Internal control officers are responsible for increasing the operational efficiency of organizations, detecting and eliminating fraud and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations. Although this position is typical to business entities, internal control officers can also find jobs in non-profit settings, such as education systems and government agencies.
Using the Essential Skills
Internal control officers typically work in a fast-paced environment where every detail is crucial. As such, they should have a blend of superior analytical skills and a high level of attention to detail to perform their duties effectively. They use these skills to evaluate the internal control systems of an organization, identify shortcomings and recommend suitable changes to management. Good organizational and communication skills are also useful to these officers, as they often work with a range of documents, compiling internal control reports and preparing presentations for senior managers.
The main role of internal control officers is to implement an organization’s internal control system. To achieve this, they administer training to ensure that workers have an intricate understanding of all internal control guidelines and standards.They also conduct regular audits to verify whether departments follow the established procedures. For example, when there is a sudden increase in organizational spending, the internal control officer may audit the accounting department to detect procurement irregularities.
Another duty of internal control officers is to identify the risks that a business faces and develop preventive strategies. For example, when a business does not have a legal department, it might fail to monitor changes in relevant laws and risk violating them. Internal control officers will take note of this and may advise management to hire an attorney. These officers also evaluate the business' recovery procedures for operational disruptions and maintain communication with external auditors and regulatory agencies.
To become an internal control officer, you need to hold at least a bachelor’s degree in fields such as finance, business administration and accounting. Since employers typically prefer hiring professionals with relevant experience, most internal control officers begin as accountants or auditors and work their way up. Career progression opportunities are available for internal control officers who obtain relevant professional certifications and graduate degrees. For example, with the Certified Internal Control Professional designation, which is offered by the Institute of Internal Control, and a master’s degree in business administration, you can become a chief operating officer.