To earn the certified internal auditor certification, you have to satisfy the Four E’s: Education, Ethics, Examination, and Experience. All four requirements must be completed within a three-year eligibility period in the proper order.
The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) requires candidates to satisfy the education and ethics requirements prior to completing the examination requirement. (This rule does not apply to students, who are eligible to sit for the CIA exam in their senior year.) You may complete the experience requirement at any time, but many candidates choose to pass the CIA exam first.
The first qualification for becoming a CIA is fulfilling the education requirement. The IIA recently changed this requirement to better account for the wide range of educational backgrounds among potential CIA candidates. Previously, all candidates needed a bachelor’s degree. But now The IIA has made certification possible for candidates with an associate’s degree (or equivalent) and candidates with no post-secondary education at all!
For Candidates with Post-secondary Education
|In North America||Outside North America|
|Bachelor’s degree (or higher)||Three- or four-year post-secondary degree (or higher)|
|Associate’s degree||A-Level certificate or equivalent|
For Candidates without Post-secondary Education
|Candidates who possess seven years of verified experience in internal auditing (or equivalent) may become eligible subject to approval.|
NOTE: If your name has changed since you earned your degree, you must also include your legal name change document.
Common associate’s degree equivalents recognized by The IIA include:
To prove that you possess an acceptable degree, you must supply The IIA with one of the following documents:
NOTE: If you are enrolled as a full-time student (at least 12 semester hours or equivalent) in your final year, you may enter the CIA program and sit for the CIA exam parts before completing your education requirement. However, you must complete the education requirement before you can be certified.
The IIA holds CIA candidates to high moral and professional standards outlined in its Code of Ethics. To become a CIA, you must agree to abide by this Code of Ethics. You must also have an IIA-certified individual, your supervisor, or your professor sign the Character Reference Form to verify that you meet the ethics requirement.
Passing the CIA examination is one of the certification’s most demanding requirements. The CIA exam contains three parts, hundreds of questions, and hours of testing time, all of which are detailed in the table below.
|Exam Part||Title||Number of Questions||Testing Time|
|Part 1||Essentials of Internal Auditing||125 multiple-choice||2.5 hours|
|Part 2||Practice of Internal Auditing||100 multiple-choice||2 hours|
|Part 3||Business Knowledge for Internal Auditing||100 multiple-choice||2 hours|
|Total||325 questions||6.5 hours|
To take the CIA exam, you must:
The final major requirement you must satisfy to become a CIA is the experience requirement, which involves working in internal auditing or its equivalent for a certain number of months. The amount of work experience you need depends on the level of education you’ve achieved. The IIA is specific about the type of work that qualifies. The Experience Verification Form from The IIA stipulates “audit/assessment disciplines, including external auditing, quality assurance, compliance, and internal control.”
NOTE: While you can apply for, sit, and pass the CIA exam before fulfilling the experience requirement, you will not be certified as a CIA until you meet this requirement. Additionally, you must complete this requirement within your 3-year program eligibility period.
|CIA Experience Requirement|
|Educational Level||Work Experience Required|
|Master’s degree or equivalent||12 months|
|Bachelor’s degree or equivalent||24 months|
|Associate’s degree, A-Level certificate, or equivalent||60 months|
There are a few other obligations you must fulfill to earn the CIA. However, these requirements don’t call for as much time or effort on your part.
Before you can receive approval for your CIA certification program application, you must submit proof of identification in the form of your official passport or national identification card. The IIA only accepts current documents, so none of these can be expired. This documentation must be scanned and uploaded through the Document Upload Portal in such a way that the picture is clearly legible.
Like many professional certification exams, the CIA exam is non-disclosed. Therefore, entrance into the CIA program depends in part on your agreeing to keep the contents of the exam confidential. You are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement at your testing appointment before you will be allowed to take the exam. You will only ever be allowed to discuss the exam content with The IIA’s Certification Department. Disclosing exam information under any other circumstances is a Code of Ethics breach that could result in program disqualification.
Once The IIA officially accepts you into the CIA program, you have three years to finish the program by completing every eligibility requirement discussed above. If you do not become certified in your 3-year window, your program eligibility will expire, you will have to reapply to the program, and you must retake any exam parts you passed in your previous eligibility period.
You can avoid these consequences by applying for an eligibility extension. There are three different types of extensions: hardship extension, non-hardship program extension, and exam eligibility extension.
Each of these extensions includes its own procedures and fees, which you can learn more about in the IIA Certification Candidate Handbook.
In some countries, The IIA affiliates administer the CIA exam, and the certification processes, pricing, and taxes may vary. For example, CIA candidates residing in South Africa and the United Kingdom/Ireland must be members of The IIA branches within their respective countries.
According to the CIA Candidate Handbook, if you live in one of the countries listed below, you’ll need to refer to your local IIA Institute website or contact your local representative to discover the specifics of your CIA journey.
If you’re already a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) or a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), we’ve got great news! You may be exempt from the CIA education and experience requirements.
The Professional Certification Board (PCB) has determined that the experience requirements for ACCA members and the education requirement for U.S. CPAs meet and/or exceed these requirements for the CIA program. Therefore, the PCB has approved work experience and education exemptions for qualified ACCA members and education exemptions for U.S. CPAs.
To be considered for these exemptions, you must simply complete the appropriate fields on the CIA application. The status of your CIA application will be pending while certification administrators confirm that your membership or license is active. But even if you have to wait a little longer for CIA program approval, you won’t have to wait as long for CIA certification thanks to these exemptions!