Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

Updated on April 11, 2024
Article byNiti Gupta
Edited byNiti Gupta
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Is A Certified Internal Auditor?

A certified internal auditor (CIA) is an accountant who earns the recognition of a certified internal auditor conferred by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) in internal audits after passing CIA exams and completing the required work experience. The certification is recognized globally.


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The certified CIAs are deployed by various critical organizations, government organizations, financial institutions, and other corporations to conduct their internal audits. Candidates who are able to earn this professional degree are deemed to have a very strong and wholesome knowledge base. The certificate adds a lot of value to their career path later on.

Certified Internal Auditor Explained

A Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) is a professional who holds a globally recognised degree in the field of auditing and possesses the optimum level of skill, experience, knowledge and potential to execute the professional responsibilities in the world of internal auditing.

These professionals clearing the certified internal auditor course set very high standards in the audit process and are committed to providing the best value for the entity. They possess the latest knowledge and rules laid down by the International Professional Practice Framework of the IIA and follow those rules efficiently and diligently.

They are experienced enough to identify the operational practices of the company to its core and apply relevant techniques and methods to make proper assessment of risk levels and implement measures of control.

The internal auditors prefer to get this certificate in order to enhance their respect and credibility in this field, possess the best level of proficiency, increase their potential to earn better and reveal their knowledge and commitment to the organization.

There are some important steps to be followed in order to get this certification. Candidates should keep track of any changes made in the syllabus and examination process, which get upgraded based on changes in current auditing practices.

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If you are wondering how you can become a certified internal auditor, you must take note of the following requirements:

Complete the Educational Formalities

To be eligible for appearing for CIA exams, one needs to meet certain educational qualifications laid by the IIA. The candidates must hold a graduation degree in any field and a three to four years post-secondary or a higher degree or the associate’s degree before they appear for exams for clearing the certified internal auditor course. However, IIA does provide some relaxation to those who don’t meet this criterion, like if any candidate has only two years of post-secondary education but holds verifiable five years of work experience in internal auditInternal AuditInternal audit refers to the inspection conducted to assess and enhance the company's risk management efficacy, evaluate the different internal controls, and ensure that the company adheres to all the regulations. It helps the management and board of directors to identify and rectify the loopholes before the external audit.read more domain, then also such person may become eligible for CIA exams.

Meet the Requisite Work Experience

The requirements for work experience to clear the certified internal auditor examination depend on the maximum educational qualifications of candidates and might differ from one candidate to another. For example, a candidate with a four-year degree and no experience must attain two years of verified work experience in the internal audit or some similar domain. On the other hand, candidates having higher degrees need to attain only one year of verified experience.

Submission of Character Reference Documents

Candidates are under an obligation to submit a character reference document duly signed by CIA, CGAP, CCSA, CFSA, CRMA, or their supervisor with the IIA to reflect the level of their morality and professionalism.

Pass the CIA Exams

Candidates must clear the 3 phases of exams within four years, after which the CIA certification is allotted. If four years pass, the exam fees get forfeited by the institute, and the cleared exams lapse.

Skillset And Education

For becoming a Certified Internal Auditor, a candidate must have attained any of the following educational degrees:

  • Master’s degree or any equivalent degree, along with one year of internal audit experience,
  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent degree and two years of internal audit experience.
  • Associate degree, along with five years of internal audit experience.

Apart from educational degrees, candidates are also required to possess some skills to clear the certified internal auditor examination, such as:

  • The ability for critical thinking
  • Analytical skills
  • Good verbal communication
  • Ability to think and research

Exam Fees And Certification Costs

The fees structure for the CIA exam and certification for students is as below:

  • Application fees: US $65
  • CIA Exam Part 1: US $230
  • CIA Exam Part 2: US $180
  • CIA Exam Part 3: US $180
  • Membership Fees: US $50

The membership fees vary for membership fees such as professional membership; the fee is US $270, and so on.

Scope, Job Profile And Salary

The scope of certified internal auditor jobs includes examining an organization’s internal processes to ensure and comment upon whether the organization’s internal processes, risk management procedures, and controls and working effectively or not.

The job profile of a certified internal auditor normally includes taking care of the following tasks:

The salary that certified internal auditors draw depends upon their experience and their position. However, on average, in certified internal auditor jobs the salary drawn by the CIA ranges from $69,000 to $84,000.

Work Experience

The work experience that any candidate is required to possess for becoming a certified internal auditor can be summarized as below based on the educational qualifications possessed by the candidates –

Educational Qualification Work Experience Required
Master’s or Any Equivalent Degree One Year of Experience in Internal audit or any similar Field
Bachelor’s or Any Equivalent Degree Two Years of Experience in Internal Audit or any similar Field
Associate Degree Five Years of Experience in Internal Audit or any similar Field
Any other Lower Degree Seven Years of Experience in Internal Audit or any similar Field


Apart from the requirements that the candidates are required to meet for becoming eligible for CIA certification, there are some other requirements that the candidates must fulfill. These include:

  • Abiding by Code of Ethics – The candidates must abide by the requirements laid down in the code of ethics.
  • Completing CPE Requirements – Even after the candidates obtain CIA certification, they must keep their knowledge updated and always be aware of the latest developments and improvements in internal audits.
  • Maintaining Confidentiality – The CIA exams are supposed to be confidential. Due to this reason, the candidates appearing for the exams are expected to keep the contents of the exam paper to themselves and not disclose them the same to anyone. If any candidate discloses the same, the same will be considered a breach of the code of ethics.

Career Opportunities

The IIA has more than 210,000 members. A candidate who is able to join this group of professionals after acquiring the certified internal auditor license will have a great opportunity ahead. As per the statistics, the career path in the auditing and accounting field will continue to grow exponentially and create a lot of job opportunity.

  • A professional may enter the organization as an entry level auditor. However, any designation beyond this level will need better experience and skill. So, getting a certification for CIA will show that the professional has a very good understanding in this field.
  • Next in this level is the Senior Auditor who will supervise the working of a team of auditors within the company. They are very highly skilled to assess the financial information and communicate the reports to the management.
  • The Audit Supervisor is a higher designation, who are more into the risk management part. They work along with senior auditors and are committed to assessment of risk levels taken by the organization and the capacity of it to handle such risks. They report to the executive management.
  • The top of the ladder is the position of Chief Audit Executive, They need to keep track of every operational procedure within the company and maintain a healthy communication with the Board and employees to ensure the operations run smoothly and effectively.

Thus, the steps above describe a complete career path for professionals holding a certified internal auditor license.

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