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What is an Auror?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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In the popular Harry Potter series of fantasy novels by JK Rowling, an Auror is a specially trained employee of the Ministry of Magic who tracks Dark Wizards and brings them to justice. Aurors are extremely talented and committed individuals, representing some of the most highly educated and trained wizards in the employ of the Ministry of Magic. The job of an Auror is perceived as highly glamorous by many, and it can also be extremely dangerous. Presumably the position pays reasonably well, in recognition of the long training time and considerable on the job danger.

Aurors are necessary within the wizarding community because of the existence of Dark Wizards, wizards who practice the Dark Arts. Many of these wizards are followers of Lord Voldemort. Aurors track and apprehend Dark Wizards with the goal of reducing crime in the wizarding and muggle worlds alike, and also in the hope of getting information about Voldemort's activities. They appear to have extensive personal powers, including the ability to use Unforgivable Curses against Dark Wizards, should the need arise.

In order to become an Auror, a wizard must perform extremely well in school, taking a minimum of five Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests (NEWTs), all with grades above “Exceeds Expectation.” The Ministry requires Aurors to sit for NEWT exams in Potions, Charms, Transfiguration, and Defense Against the Dark Arts, with Auror candidates pursuing optional electives of choice such as Divination or Arithmancy. Applicants are also put through a background check, and a series of aptitude tests designed to measure performance potential.

If an Auror is accepted as an employee by the Ministry, he or she undergoes an additional three years of training in advanced defensive and fighting techniques, along with tracking, concealment, stealth, and disguise. Just as is the case in school, Aurors are tested and graded on their performance in these subjects. Once trained, an Auror becomes a member of an elite law enforcement crew headquartered on the second floor of the Ministry of Magic's underground complex. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry visits Auror headquarters and gets to see the cubicles in which Aurors work, along with meeting several Aurors.

Readers are introduced to Aurors in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when they meet retired Auror Alastor Moody. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, readers meet active Aurors such as Nymphadora Tonks and Kingsley Shacklebolt. Many Aurors are also clandestine members of the Order of the Phoenix.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Language & Humanities researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By dimpley — On Jul 03, 2011

I wonder if the name ‘Auror’ that Rowling entitled a specific set of her characters in the Harry Potter series was derived from the actual word aura. That is a term, after all, that is most often used in a less than conventional framework of thought.

I’m sure that most people have heard of some new agers speaking about a person’s positive or negative auras. (No disrespect intended in the least. I personally believe in auras myself.)

At some point there was even this huge trend about people with rainbow auras. Even Stephen King addressed them in some of his works, perhaps most notably in Insomnia.

It’s just a thought that I had because I know that many of her spells and incantations have a Latin derivative. I was thinking that perhaps this title was also inspired.

By Agni3 — On Jul 03, 2011

I am a huge fan of the Harry Potter series, which is probably why I know what an Auror is in the first place. However, I was wondering if any other Harry fans out there might be able to help me out with this burning idea that I’ve got.

You see, I cannot remember where the ideal came from, but for some reason I have it firmly entrenched in my mind that Ron and Harry became Auror partners as adults. I know Harry talks about possibly becoming an Auror when he is in school at Hogwarts, but for some reason it seems to me that this is more than an idea.

Where am I getting this from? Is it a fact that Rowling has let out somehow, or is it just plain magic that I know such a thing?

By poppyseed — On Jul 02, 2011

First of all let me say that I love that this is a wisegeek topic! Yay for Harry Potter!

But, moving on, I think that if we actually lived in a world divided between the magical and the ordinary I would be the perfect Auror. It seems like these people were like the private eyes of the magical world.

They had to be at the top of their game, book smart but also well-endowed with common sense. I think I could handle most of that. I get the feeling, though, that an Auror might get the equivalent in pay that our SBI agents do in this country – it’s a shame for both sets of crime fighters, too.

They are chasing after the likes of Bellatrix Lestrange and eating beans for supper.

By bythewell — On Jul 02, 2011

Were aurors supposed to be allowed to use the unforgivable curses against dark wizards? I know they were left at a disadvantage if they didn't, but on the other hand they were called "unforgivable" for a reason.

I thought they pretty much had to just fight with every other kind of spell. And there were plenty that weren't on that list, but which could still be lethal.

It was one of my favorite of the film scenes so far, where the kids are running away through the Ministry of Magic and are joined by a group of older wizards.

That's what I think of when I think of aurors, although I think technically only a couple of the wizards were aurors.

By lluviaporos — On Jul 01, 2011

I think it is fantastic that Ms Rowling put such an air of glamor around what is effectively a policeman or detective.

I feel like police don't get as much credit as they used to, with kids less likely to look up to them. Partly, I think, it's because of pop music which takes up a negative view of police. In Harry Potter, an auror is one of the most difficult and valued career choices a kid can make, and that's how they should see police officers as well.

Of course, the popularity of detective shows recently also helps, but kids are much less likely to be watching those.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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