Internal auditors are an independent, objective, and systematic evaluation of the mechanisms, rules, procedures, and processes an organization practices to ensure its financial and accounting integrity, prevent fraud, enforce accountability, and establish sound corporate governance. In other words, an internal audit seeks to determine:
- If a company’s internal controls are functional and sufficient to mitigate potential risks
- If corporate governance processes are efficient and effective
- If the organization is meeting its goals and objectives
Internal auditors add value to organizations by helping improve these organizations’ operations. If you wish to become one, enroll in a CIA course and become a Certified Internal Auditor.
What Is the CIA?
CIA stands for Certified International Auditor, an internationally recognized certification for internal audit practitioners. The Institute of Internal Auditors awards this appellation, and a CIA designation serves as a benchmark for internal auditing excellence.
Certified International Auditors have the requisite internal audit skills and know-how to perform internal audits at par with internationally held and recognized internal auditing standards.
CIA Program Eligibility Requirements
To become a CIA, you will need to get accepted into the CIA program. To accomplish this, you must meet any of the following qualifications:
- At least a bachelor’s degree
- An active Internal Audit Practitioner designation
- Five years’ worth of experience (or more) in internal audits or equivalent relevant specializations plus at least a high school diploma, an associate’s degree, a GCE, an A-Level, or equivalent
- An active residency in college as a student in their final year or in an approved internal audit education partnership school
Student applicants will be allowed to take CIA exams, but they will earn their CIA designation only after completing their degree and meeting all other requirements.
You must also provide the following additional requirements:
The character reference can be a current or a past supervisor at work. It can also be anyone who has any of the following designations:
- CGAP (Certified Government Auditing Professional)
- CCSA (Certification in Control Self-Assessment)
- CFSA (Certified Financial Services Auditor)
- CRMA (Certification in Risk Management Assurance)
- QIAL (Qualification in Internal Audit Leadership)
Proof of Identity or ID
This must be a valid and current photo ID. In the CIA candidate handbook, the Institute of Internal Auditors names the passport and the national identity card as eligible proofs of identification.
Earning Your CIA
Your educational credentials/work experience, character reference, and photo ID are the CIA program entry requirements. After getting accepted into the program, you must satisfy the CIA exit requirements.
There are two main CIA exit requirements. One, you must pass all three CIA exams. Two, you must obtain qualified work experience.
You have three years after program registration to meet your CIA exit requirements and earn your CIA designation.
The Three-Part Exam
There are three exams you need to pass.
- Part One
Part One pertains to the essentials of internal auditing. It evaluates your familiarity with six domains:
- Foundation of internal auditing
- Independence and objectivity
- Proficiency and due professional care
- Quality assurance and improvement programs
- Governance, risk management, and control
- Fraud risk
Number of items: 125
Number of hours: 2.5 hours or 150 minutes
Exam objective: Check your skills and competencies on the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing, particularly the attribute standards and performance standard 2100.
- Part Two
Part Two is on the practice of internal auditing and covers four domains:
- Managing the internal audit activity
- Planning the engagement
- Performing the engagement
- Communicating engagement results
- Monitoring progress
Number of items: 100
Number of hours: 2 hours or 120 minutes
Exam objective: Test your competencies and know-how in current internal auditing practices and ISPPIA’s Performance Standards.
- Part Three
Part Three is on business knowledge for internal auditing and focuses on four domains:
- Business acumen (expanded to include the subdomain of data analytics)
- Information security (expanded to include cybersecurity risks and emerging technologies)
- Information technology
- Financial management
Number of items: 100
Number of hours: 2 hours or 120 minutes
Exam objective: Test candidates’ competencies and know-how in core business concepts
Passing Your CIA Exams
Enrolling in a CIA training course after you get accepted into the CIA program is best. Even if you are a practicing auditor, accountant, or financial professional, you may still need to review fundamental concepts, or you may have to expand your horizons to include emerging technologies and subdomains (e.g., data analytics).
Register for an exam-centric program that will focus your attention and energy on the domains and subdomains the CIA exams cover. Depending on your preference and availability, you can go for face-to-face, online, or hybrid review programs.
Finally, you can try focusing techniques or therapy (e.g., neurofeedback therapy). These can help you overcome procrastination, reduce stress, and mitigate other potential issues that might hinder your efforts to study and prepare for your CIA exams.
Also, within the program eligibility period, you must accumulate experience in any of the following specialties:
- Internal audit
- Quality assurance
- External auditing
- Risk management
- Internal control
- General management
- Audit/assessment disciplines
The number of years of experience varies depending on your initial education and experience qualifications.
- Master’s degree (or equivalent) holders must earn one year of relevant experience.
- Bachelor’s degree holders must accumulate two years of relevant experience.
- Holders of an active International Audit Practitioner designation must obtain five years of relevant work experience.
- Those who qualified for inclusion because they have five or more years of relevant experience no longer have to earn additional experience.
CIA Program Eligibility Exemptions
The CIA Professional Certification Board has waived the education and work experience requirements for certain professionals.
For instance, the education and work experience requirements are waived for Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) members. ACCA typically takes three to four years to earn, including the 36 months of required qualified work experience.
On the other hand, the education requirement is waived for Certified Public Accountants actively licensed to practice in the United States.
Earn Your CIA
If you are an internal auditor, become a Certified Internal Auditor. This internationally recognized designation will tell future employers and clients that you have the core internal auditing knowledge, skills, and abilities to add value to the organization.
A Different Kind of CIA: Certification for Internal Auditors