How to Become a Certified Internal Auditor in 8 Steps

How to Become a Certified Internal Auditor in 8 Steps


Last Updated on March 18, 2024 by Qusai Ahmad

Are you interested in becoming a certified internal auditor (CIA)? If so, you might be wondering what steps you need to take to achieve this goal. In this post, I will guide you through the process of becoming a CIA, from meeting the eligibility requirements to passing the exam and maintaining your certification.

Becoming a CIA can open up many opportunities for your career in accounting, auditing, or finance. As a CIA, you will be able to demonstrate your expertise in internal auditing standards, principles, and practices. You will also be able to add value to your organization by providing assurance, insight, and advice on its operations, risks, and controls.

But before you can enjoy the benefits of being a CIA, you need to prepare yourself for the journey ahead. It’s not an easy task, but it’s worth it. To help you succeed, I have compiled a list of eight steps that you need to follow to become a CIA. Let’s get started!

How to Become a Certified Internal Auditor in 8 Steps:

Step 1: Meet the eligibility requirements

To become a CIA, you need to meet certain eligibility requirements set by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), the global professional association for internal auditors. These requirements include:

  • Education: You need to have a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited university or college, or an equivalent qualification recognized by the IIA. You also need to submit proof of your education, such as transcripts, diplomas, or certificates.
  • Experience: You need to have at least two years of work experience in internal auditing or a related field, such as external auditing, quality assurance, compliance, or risk management. You also need to submit a verification form signed by your supervisor or a CIA who can confirm your experience.
  • Character: You need to exhibit high standards of professional and personal conduct, and agree to abide by the IIA’s Code of Ethics and International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing. You also need to submit a character reference form signed by a CIA, a supervisor, or a professor.

You can find more details about the eligibility requirements on the IIA’s website.

Step 2: Register for the CIA program

Once you meet the eligibility requirements, you can register for the CIA program online through the [IIA’s Certification Candidate Management System (CCMS)]. You will need to create an account, fill out an application form, and pay the application fee. The fee varies depending on your IIA membership status and the country where you live. You can check the fee schedule on the IIA’s website.

After you submit your application, you will receive an email confirmation from the IIA. You will also receive a candidate ID number, which you will need to schedule and take the exam.

Step 3: Prepare for the exam

The CIA exam consists of three parts, each covering a different domain of internal auditing knowledge and skills. The exam is computer-based and administered by Pearson VUE, a global testing provider. You can take the exam at any Pearson VUE testing center around the world. You can find the nearest testing center on Pearson VUE’s website.

The three parts of the CIA exam are:

  • Part 1: Essentials of Internal Auditing (125 questions, 2.5 hours)
  • Part 2: Practice of Internal Auditing (100 questions, 2 hours)
  • Part 3: Business Knowledge for Internal Auditing (100 questions, 2 hours)

The exam questions are multiple-choice and based on the IIA’s CIA Exam Syllabus, which outlines the topics and subtopics covered in each part. You can download the syllabus on the [IIA’s website].

To prepare for the exam, you need to study the syllabus and review the relevant concepts and practices of internal auditing. You can use various study materials and resources, such as:

  • The IIA’s CIA Learning System is a comprehensive and interactive online course that covers the entire syllabus and provides practice questions, quizzes, and exams.
  • The IIA’s CIA Review Books, are a series of textbooks that cover the syllabus and provide examples, exercises, and case studies.
  • The IIA’s CIA Practice Tests, are a set of online tests that simulate the real exam and provide feedback and explanations.
  • Other third-party providers, such as Gleim CIA Review, Surgent CIA Review, and Wiley CIAexcel, offer similar products and services.

You can choose the study materials and resources that suit your learning style, budget, and schedule. You can also join a local IIA chapter or a study group to network and exchange tips with other CIA candidates.

Step 4: Schedule and take the exam

When you feel ready to take the exam, you need to schedule it online through the CCMS. You will need to select the part of the exam that you want to take, the testing center that you want to visit, and the date and time that you prefer. You will also need to pay the exam fee, which varies depending on the part of the exam and your IIA membership status. You can check the fee schedule on the IIA’s website.

You can schedule the exam up to six months in advance, or as late as two days before the desired date. However, you should schedule the exam as early as possible to secure your preferred slot, as testing centers may have limited availability.

You can take the exam in any order and at any time within four years of your application approval. However, you should plan your exam strategy carefully, as you can only take one part of the exam at a time, and you can only retake a failed part after 90 days.

On the day of the exam, you need to arrive at the testing center at least 30 minutes before your scheduled time. You need to bring a valid and current government-issued photo ID, such as a passport or a driver’s license. You also need to bring your confirmation email from Pearson VUE and your candidate ID number from the IIA.

You will not be allowed to bring any personal items, such as phones, watches, calculators, or notes, into the testing room. You will be provided with a calculator, a pen, and a paper by the testing center.

You will have to sign a non-disclosure agreement before starting the exam. You will also have to agree to the IIA’s exam policies and procedures, which you can review on the [IIA’s website].

You will have to answer all the questions on the exam within the allotted time. You can skip, mark, and review the questions as you wish. You can also change your answers before submitting the exam.

You will receive your exam result immediately after completing the exam. You will also receive a score report that shows your performance in each topic area. You need to score at least 600 out of 800 to pass the exam.

Step 5: Complete the program

To complete the CIA program, you need to pass all three parts of the exam within four years of your application approval. You also need to maintain your eligibility requirements, such as your education, experience, and character, until you receive your certification.

Once you complete the program, you will receive a congratulatory email from the IIA. You will also receive a digital badge that you can display on your online profiles, such as LinkedIn, to showcase your achievements.

You will also receive a certificate and a lapel pin by mail within six to eight weeks. You can also request a verification letter from the IIA to confirm your certification status.

Step 6: Celebrate your success

Congratulations, you are now a CIA! You have earned a prestigious and globally recognized credential that demonstrates your competence and professionalism in internal auditing. You have also joined a network of more than 165,000 CIAs around the world who share your passion and commitment to the profession.

You should celebrate your success and share your accomplishments with your colleagues, friends, and family. You should also update your resume, portfolio, and social media profiles with your new credential. You should also inform your employer and clients about your certification and how it can benefit them.

Step 7: Maintain your certification

To maintain your certification, you need to comply with the IIA’s Continuing Professional Education (CPE) program, which requires you to earn and report CPE hours every year. CPE hours are units of measure that reflect your participation in learning activities that enhance your knowledge and skills in internal auditing.

The number of CPE hours that you need to earn and report depends on your certification status and your IIA membership status. You can check the CPE requirements on the IIA’s website.

You can earn CPE hours by engaging in various learning activities, such as:

  • Attending or presenting at seminars, conferences, workshops, or webinars related to internal auditing or other relevant topics.
  • Completing or developing courses, programs, or materials related to internal auditing or other relevant topics.
  • Writing or reviewing articles, books, or research papers related to internal auditing or other relevant topics.
  • Volunteering or serving in leadership roles for the IIA or other professional organizations related to internal auditing or other relevant topics.
  • Taking or passing other IIA certification exams or other professional exams related to internal auditing or other relevant topics.

You can find more details about the CPE activities and the CPE hours that they provide on the IIA’s website.

You need to report your CPE hours online through the CCMS by December 31 every year. You also need to retain the documentation that supports your CPE activities for at least three years, in case of an audit by the IIA.

Step 8: Advance your career

As a CIA, you have a competitive edge in the job market and a higher earning potential than non-certified professionals. You also have more opportunities to grow and advance your career in internal auditing or other related fields.

To make the most of your certification, you should:

  • Seek new challenges and responsibilities that showcase your skills and value as a CIA.
  • Pursue additional certifications or credentials that complement your CIA, such as the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), or the Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
  • Network and collaborate with other CIAs and internal audit professionals through the IIA’s events, communities, and resources.
  • Stay updated and informed on the latest trends, developments, and best practices in internal auditing and other relevant topics.
  • Mentor and coach other aspiring or new CIAs and share your knowledge and experience with them.

By following these steps, you can enhance your professional reputation, credibility, and influence as a CIA. You can also contribute to the advancement and recognition of the internal audit profession.

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