CIA Certification - The certified internal auditor or CIA certification is an essential certification for any individual who wants to build a career in auditing. The certified internal auditor program is offered by the Institute of Internal Auditors or IIA and is an internationally-recognized program in internal auditing across all major industries. Like many other top-notch professional certifications, the CIA certification allows internal auditors to verify their credibility to current and prospective employers and gain a competitive edge over their peers. Additionally, the CIA certification salary as well as potential job roles are attractive for potential certificate holders.
In order to obtain certification status, candidates need to successfully clear the certified internal auditor exam which is divided into three parts. All three parts comprise questions which are of multiple-choice type in nature. Candidates need to clear all three exams in chronological order in order to meet the certified internal auditor requirements.
How to Become a Certified Internal Auditor
For prospective CIA aspirants, there are six crucial steps involved in how to become a certified internal auditor. These six steps and associated certified internal auditor course details include:
Create a CCMS profile: Prospective applicants need to create a new profile in the Certification Candidate Management System or CCMS. There is no cost involved in creating a CCMS profile and candidates should ensure that all the information filled is up-to-date and valid at the time of profile creation.
Apply to the CIA program: Upon creation of a CCMS profile, candidates can apply to any of the certification programs offered by IIA. In order to apply for the CIA certification program, candidates must select the CIA certification option followed by the ‘complete a form’ link. In order to submit the application form, candidates will need to submit the online application fee for CIA certification.
Upload the requisite documents: Candidates need to submit the documentation and proof for the four certified internal auditor requirements for eligibility through the online upload option. This includes the education documents, identification proof, character reference and work experience proof. All documents must be submitted in English or submitted with an official English translation.
Register for a CIA exam: In order to register for any of the CIA certification exams, candidates must access their CCMS profile and fill out the exam registration form. Upon registration, candidates have a 180-day window to schedule and sit for the exam of registration. If the candidate fails to do so then the exam fees will be forfeit and the candidate will have re-register and make the exam payment again.
Schedule a CIA exam: IIA has partnered with Pearson VUE in order to administer the CIA certification exams, therefore, candidates can schedule a certified internal auditor exam according to the dates available at their nearest Pearson VUE test centre. This can be done online as well as via phone.
Take the scheduled CIA exam: The final step toward CIA certification is taking the scheduled exams. Candidates are required to arrive at the testing venue at least 30 minutes prior to the exam time and may be denied entry in the case of late arrival. The only item allowed within the testing room is a non-electric language translation dictionary.
Certified Internal Auditor Course Details: Eligibility
In order to be eligible to be a certified internal auditor, candidates are required to meet a number of character, education, professional and identification requirements. All the documentation proof for the eligibility requirements must be approved by IIA’s certification staff. The certified internal auditor requirements for eligibility are:
Education: Candidates must have an associate’s degree or higher in order to be eligible for the CIA certification. Internationally-recognized equivalents for an associate’s degree includes a foundation degree, a higher national diploma and a diploma of higher education.
Candidates are required to present document proof of their education. This can be a copy of the degree or transcripts, a university-issued letter confirming the degree, or a letter issued from the respective evaluation services which confirms the degree.
Character: In order to be eligible for CIA certification, candidates are required to have a high professional as well as moral character. Therefore, candidates must submit a character reference form which must be signed by the candidate’s supervisor, a CGAP, a CCSA, a CRMA, a CFSA or CIA.
Work experience: It is crucial for all CIA aspirants to earn and document a requisite amount of professional work experience in internal auditing in order to obtain the certification. Candidates can sit for the exam prior to earning the required work experience but will need to document this experience prior to being granted CIA certification status. The required amount of work experience in internal auditing differs with the candidate’s level of education.
Certified Internal Auditor Requirements: Work Experience
Level of education
Years of work experience required
Associate’s degree (or equivalent)
60 months of internal auditing experience (or equivalent)
Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent)
24 months of internal auditing experience (or equivalent)
Master’s degree (or equivalent)
12 months of internal auditing experience (or equivalent)
Identification proof: In order to meet the certified internal auditor requirements for eligibility, candidates are required to provide a current and valid form of government-issued identification. This can be a passport or a national ID.
Certified Internal Auditor Requirements: ID Proof
Acceptable forms of ID
Unacceptable forms of ID
Work badge or employee ID
Government-issued driver’s license
Alien registration card
College or university ID
Expired photo ID
Government-issued local language ID
ID without photo/name/date of birth
Certified Internal Auditor Course Details: Eligibility Period
Upon registration, candidates have a period of 4 years to arrive CIA certification status. This includes passing the three certified internal auditor exams as well as obtaining and documenting the requisite professional work experience. If the candidate does not obtain certification in the 4-year time limit, then all the fees and exam parts will be considered forfeit.
CIA Certification Cost
The various fees constituting the CIA certification cost includes the application fee, exam fees, reinstatement fees, registration extension fees etc. As the certified internal auditor exams are divided into three parts, the payment for each part is to be carried out separately. The CIA certification cost required differs for IIA members and non-members as well as students. The fee structure for CIA certification cost as published by IIA has been given in the table below.
CIA Certification Cost - Exam Fees
Type of fee
CIA exam fee - Part 1
CIA exam fee - Part 2
CIA exam fee - Part 3
In order to avail the CIA certification cost rates for ‘students’, candidates must satisfy either of the following:
The candidate must be enrolled as a full-time undergraduate student, for at least 12 semester hours and must be in his or her final year of study.
The candidate must be enrolled as a full-time postgraduate student, for at least 9 semester hours and must be in his or her final year of study.
CIA Certification Cost - Other Fees
Registration extension fee (60 days only)
Exam cancellation/ rescheduling fee
One-time, 12-month certification program eligibility extension
CPE reporting fee
N/A (for North American members)
Reinstatement fee (inactive status for over 12 months)
Certified Internal Auditor Exam Pattern
There are a total of three certified internal auditor exams which need to be successfully cleared in order for a candidate to meet the certified internal auditor requirements. All three of the certified internal auditor exams comprise multiple-choice questions (MCQs). Part 1 is 2.5 hours in duration whereas Part 2 and Part 3 are both 2-hour tests.
CIA Exam part
Number of questions
Part 1 - Essentials of Internal Auditing
Part 2 - Practice of Internal Auditing
Part 3 - Business Knowledge for Internal Auditing
Certified Internal Auditor Syllabus
The certified internal auditor syllabus has been designed in such a manner as to encompass the requirements for professionals in the domain of internal auditing and ensure that the exam and its content remains up-to-date and relevant for these professionals. Therefore, in order to reflect the current developments and global practices in the field of internal auditing, the certified internal auditor syllabus will be changed starting from January 1, 2019. The new certified internal auditor syllabus has undergone changes for all three of the certified internal auditor parts.
The new certified internal auditor syllabus for all three parts as published by IIA has been provided in the tables given below.
Certified Internal Auditor Syllabus - Part One
Area of study
Foundations of internal auditing
Independence and objectivity
Proficiency and due professional care
Quality assurance and improvement program
Governance, risk management and control
Certified Internal Auditor Syllabus - Part Two
Managing the Internal Audit Activity
Internal audit operations
Establishing a risk-based internal audit plan
Communicating and reporting to senior management and the board
Planning the Engagement
Performing the Engagement
Analysis and evaluation
Communicating Engagement Results and Monitoring Progress
Communicating engagement results and the acceptance of risk
Certified Internal Auditor Syllabus - Part Three
Organizational objectives, behavior, and performance
Organizational structure and business processes
Application and system software
IT infrastructure and IT control frameworks
Financial accounting and finance
Certified Internal Auditor Study Material
In order to efficiently prepare for the certification exams, IIA provides a number of certified internal auditor study materials for candidates. This includes various study guides, sample questions and answers, mock tests, and exam review courses, amongst other certified internal auditor study materials. These can be accessed through the candidate’s official CCMS account.
Additionally, IIA has also published a list of reference books along with the authors and publishers which are a comprehensive source of certified internal auditor study material and cover the entire syllabus.
Certified Internal Auditor Study Material: Reference Books
Accounting Principles, with CD, 10th Edition
Jerry J. Weygandt, Donald E. Kieso, Paul D. Kimmel
Wiley Text Books
Enterprise Risk Management - Integrated Framework
Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO)
Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors
Michael E. Porter
The Free Press
Internal Auditing: Assurance & Advisory Services, 2nd and 3rd Editions
Kurt F. Reding, Paul J. Sobel, Urton L. Anderson, Michael J. Head, Sridhar Ramamoorthi, Mark Salamasick, Cris Riddle
The Institute of Internal Auditors Research Foundation
COSO - Internal Control - Integrated Framework: 2013
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
International Professional Practices Framework (IPPF), including:
Code of ethics
Practice advisories/ implementation guides
Global technology audit guides (GTAGs)
Guide to assessment of IT risk (GAIT)
The Institute of Internal Auditors, Inc.
The Three Lines of Defence in Effective Risk Management and Control
The Role of Internal Auditing in Enterprise-wide Risk Management
The Role of Internal Auditing in Resourcing the Internal Audit Activity
Management, 10th, 11th and 12th Editions
Robert Kreitner and Charlene Cassidy
South-Western College Publications
Saywer’s Guide for Internal Auditors, 5th and 6th Editions
Certified Internal Auditor Course Details: Exam Scores
The scores for the certified internal auditor exams are scaled scores which are calculated from the raw scores obtained by the candidate. The raw scores are acquired from the number of questions which the candidate answers correctly. After this they are converted to CIA scores which are obtained on a 250 point to 750 point scale. In order to successfully clear any of the certified internal auditor exams, candidates are required to obtain a scaled score of at least 600 points.
Certified Internal Auditor Course Details: Result
The CIA certification exam result will be available online when it is published by IIA on the candidate’s CCMS account. This result is generally published 24-48 hours after the completion of the exam and candidates will be notified regarding result availability via email. In case IIA determines that the candidate’s score requires further analysis, then there may be a delay of up to 45 days till the result is published.
Although the CIA certification exams are scored on a 250 to 750 point scale and the passing score is 600 points, the official result does not contain any numerical score. Instead, only a ‘pass’ status is displayed in the candidate’s result. If the candidate does not receive a ‘pass’ status, then the candidate will receive a numeric score as well as performance details on each of the major subject areas so that the candidate can analyse which areas require further study in order to improve future performance.
Certified Internal Auditor Course Details: Credential Maintenance
In order to maintain the CIA certification status, candidates are required to participate in continuing professional education (CPE). Upon initial certification, candidates are awarded a total of 80 CPE hours divided into 40 per year for two years. Therefore, the CIA certification validity is 2 years, after which CIA certificate holders are required to earn and document 20 to 40 CPE hours on an annual basis in order to ensure that the value of the CIA certificate is upheld and their certification status is maintained. This also includes 2 CPE hours of ethics training.
CPE documentation and certification maintenance is carried out with an annual fee payment. This fee payment is not required for candidates residing in North America or candidates who have IIA membership at the time of CPE documentation. This further adds to the overall CIA certification cost.
CIA Certification Salary
Like most other professional certifications, the CIA certification salary is generally higher than that of non certificate holders in the same job profile or role, especially in the domain of internal auditing. This means that due to the credential and attestation offered by the CIA certification, the value of an individual increases in the eyes of current as well as prospective employers. Additionally, taking the CIA certification cost into consideration, it can be seen that the ROI of the certificate is high amongst finance certifications. The average CIA certification salary in India ranges from 3 to 19 lacs per annum, depending upon company of employment as well as years of professional work experience. Some of the job positions which provide the highest CIA certification salary are roles like senior manager auditor, internal auditing manager and chief internal auditor.
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