How do I Become a County Auditor?

Vicki Hogue-Davies

County auditors typically are elected officials who handle a variety of services for their counties. They are responsible for fiscal budgeting and reporting, assessing property taxes, issuing liquor and dog licenses and more. Being trained and licensed as a certified public accountant (CPA) can help provide the knowledge and credibility needed to become a county auditor, although being a CPA is not required for the job. Having a degree in accounting, finance, business administration or a related area is very helpful and provides credibility when you are running for elected office, and having extensive experience in progressively more responsible accounting positions along with an understanding of how local government operates are extremely important to become a county auditor and work effectively in the role. Personal qualities that are important to become a county auditor include strong communication skills for interacting with the public, good leadership ability to oversee employees, a detail orientation with a big-picture focus and the ability to work well under pressure.

Assessing property taxes is one duty of a county auditor.
Assessing property taxes is one duty of a county auditor.

If you are planning to earn a CPA certification in the United States, you typically must have a bachelor's degree or higher and have completed a specific number of hours of accounting courses to take the qualifying examination. The exact requirements to qualify to take the CPA exam vary by state. The exam itself is the same in all states.

Gaining years of experience working in the accounting field and progressing into higher-level jobs will help you position yourself to become a county auditor. Learn how your local government operates, and get involved in civic organizations in your community to gain exposure. Look for opportunities to manage budgets, even if it is as a volunteer. Apply to work in your county auditor’s office and, if possible, try to work your way up to a deputy county auditor position. After the top job is open, you might be perfectly positioned to run for it if you already have been supporting the county auditor.

The county in which you are running for office will have specific requirements for filing to run. The requirements can vary by county, but typically, you must be a U.S. citizen and a registered voter. Counties also might stipulate that candidates have lived in that county for a minimum amount of time, often at least one year.

It is important to remember that if you are seeking elected office, you most likely will be subjected to a great deal of background scrutiny. This is especially true because the job of county auditor handles money. If you want to increase your chances of becoming a county auditor, be sure to maintain a lifestyle that will stand up to intense scrutiny and potential political attacks by opponents.

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