CIA Certification : Requirements, Exam, Costs

Internal Auditor is a job role that requires constant focus and dedication toward producing faster results with accuracy. However, during your job interview, your interviewer cannot exactly decide whether you can complete the tasks and responsibilities of your job role, solely relying on your degrees.

This is where your certified internal auditor (CIA) certification comes in. By showing your CIA certification with your resume you can prove that you are fully capable of completing the responsibilities related to internal auditing profession.

If you are in the audit profession and looking to earn the certificate so that you can excel in your career and make more income and are not sure how to get started, what are the qualification criteria, what is the cost of the exam, and such common queries, then worry not. In this blog, we are going to explain all your queries and make sure you have the authentic information. So, without any delay, let’s get started.

What is a Certified internal auditor certification?

The certified internal auditor is a program that is offered by the Institute of Internal Auditors-USA. All of their Indian operations are handled by IIA. The CIA program will skill-up you by helping you gain professional knowledge in internal auditing.

  • Certified internal auditor certification is a certificate that is offered to accountants and auditors that conduct internal audits.
  • The CIA certification is only awarded to the person by the Institute of Internal Auditors only if he has passed the exam.
  • The key sectors where CIA certified professionals get the job are the audit department of government, corporations, financial institutions, and other such sectors.
  • CIA certification is recognized worldwide. However, its counterpart CPA is primarily recognized in the USA.

How do you become a certified internal auditor?

Since we have already told you that the CIA is a certification exam, this means there is no specific entrance exam like BE/B tech, distance MBA, executive MBA, or other national level entrance exams.

To become a certified internal auditor, you will have to take the CIA certification exam. The exam focuses on three different modules that are divided into three different parts called modules. Let’s take a look at these modules:

Part 1: This module focuses on the essential parts of the internal auditing

Part 2: Once you have learned about the essential parts of internal auditing, this module will focus on practicing internal auditing.

Part 3: Part 3 of the CIA exam will focus on business knowledge or you can say the real-life practical aspect for internal auditing. 

You will be awarded the certificate only if you have completed all of the three exams.

Once you have completed the certification process and earned your certificate, this CIA certification will help you find a job in both public as well as private sector industries.

What does certify internal auditor does

Certified internal auditor tests and evaluates internal control systems. To explain it better, the internal controls are systems that have been established by the senior management to prevent loss, fraud, theft, and damaged goods. CIA certified professionals do their tasks by reviewing the effectiveness of the management, controls in place for safeguarding the assets, their effectiveness and regulation compliance.

In addition to all this, in this age of information systems present in almost every entity, Certified CIAs also make sure that the data they and their team are working on are both reliable as well as up to date. This process will include the regular reviewing of the company’s financial reports, capital expenditures, and balance sheets. This process needs to also follow both internal policies, as well as external regulations.

In other words, you can also say that a CIA helps the company’s higher management evaluate risks and safeguard the company’s assets.

Is the certified internal auditor exam difficult?

Being the only internal auditor certification exam that is acceptable across the globe, it is safe to say that the Certified internal auditor exam is difficult. The average passing rate for the CIA exam is 40% on average. You can also compare this with the CPA certification exam, which also has a lower passing rate.

Is the CIA certification exam easier than the CPA certification exam?

Both exams are difficult to pass and have a low passing rate on average 40% of the students passing each year. Let’s take a look at the comparison of both exams:

Exam format

The CIA exam is made up of only multiple-choice based questions whereas the CPA exam is based on written communication and task-based simulations.

CIA Exam content

The CIA exam is kind of similar to AUD, REG, and BEC exams. On the other hand, CPA exams have much board study content with only an inch of depth. Whereas the CIA exam has lesser topics and deeper knowledge focused on topics of internal auditing.

The first and second parts of the CIA exams are easier to pass since candidates already have real-life experience with working as a professional. However, the CPA has a much broader coverage of exam topics.

CIA Exam duration

CIA certification exam has 3 parts. The first part is the longest with 125 questions. The second and the third part of the exam only have 100 questions each. The candidates are given 2.5 hours for the first part and later 2 and 2 hours for the other two parts of the exam. This means candidates are given 1.2 minutes per question on average.

So, to answer your query about which exam is the easiest. The CIA is easier than the CPA since it is a multiple-choice question-based exam.

All three of the exams will be taken separately. So, all of the candidates are required to pass all 3 exams within 4 years of application acceptance.

What is the cost of the CIA exam?

The cost of the CIA exam is different for IIA members, Non-IIA members, and Students/professors.

Membership Fees (annual)$245$0$35
Application Fees$100$200$50
CIA Exam Part 1$250$350$200
CIA Exam Part 2$200$300$150
CIA Exam Part 3$200$300$150

How long does certified internal auditor certification lasts?

Once you have earned your CIA certification it will not last your life like most of the certifications. The validity period of a CIA certification is only one year. To maintain your certification, professionals will have to earn as well as report 40 continuing professional education (CPE) hours. This will also include 2 hours of mandatory ethics training by the 31st of December each year.

How many certified internal auditors are there

The first CIA exam was taken in 1974. And, by the end of 2019, there were over 165,000 CIAs.

Do internal auditors have to be certified and is the certificate worth it?

Internal auditors are not required to have the CIA certificate. However, if you are a working internal auditor then getting the certificate will be worth it. Once you have gotten the certificate you will not have to worry about job security and the certification will showcase your expertise in the internal auditing field. Most likely you will be able to apply for a promotion or a raise in your salary. According to a report published by IIA, the average CIA certificate holder earns $38,000 more per year than non-CIA holders.

This means once you are certified, you will be earning almost 51% more than non-CIA certified internal auditors.

We have also compared CIA with CISA, another auditing certification focused on information systems audit.

What qualifications do I need to be a certified internal auditor?

Unlike some certification for accountants and auditors, CIA certification requires you to fill some criteria to take the exam. You will have to apply with a character reference and some documents proving your education and employment history as an internal auditor professional. Let’s take a look at what are the requirements you will have to fulfil to become a certified internal auditor:

  • The candidates must have a bachelor’s degree or something else equivalent to it.
  • After that, candidates are also required to submit a master’s degree certificate or something else equivalent to it.
  • If you are fulfilling both of the above-mentioned criteria then the last thing that you will be needing is a certificate, grade C or higher.
  • After showing your education qualification, you will be required to submit a character certificate too. This is important so that the IIA can confirm you are meeting their strict moral and character requirements. Your character certificate is needed to be signed by the CIA, CCSA, CGAP, CRMA, CFSA, or other supervisors. This certificate will prove that you have all of the high levels of integrity to go along with your professionalism.


If you are working as an internal auditor and want to get certified but wondering if you should go CISSP Certification, here are quick answers to your questions.  “Is it a difficult exam?”. “Yes, it is”. “Will it require you to give your absolute focus and dedication?” “Yes, it will.” “But will it be worth it?” This will be worth every second of hard work you will be putting in it. Once you are certified as a CIA certified internal auditor there is only an upside of benefits you will be getting and nothing less. So, go and fill out the form for your exam. Study well.

7 thoughts on “CIA Certification : Requirements, Exam, Costs”

  1. Daniel Omane Boakye is my name, I work with the internal audit department of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, Ghana in West Africa. I am An ACCA qualified accountant and I intend seating the CIA exams this year. please provide with all the necessary assistance required.

    looking forward to your favorable feedback asap.

  2. I am moshiudulla working as social compliance auditor and interest for CIA certification. and needs your assistance.

  3. my name is Sandra Dordaa. i work in the internal audit department in one of the public university’s in Ghana. i am a member of IIA and interested in getting the CIA certification.

  4. My name Shumbairerwa Chaurura ,i am holder bachelor of accountancy degree,Master of Commerce in Proffessional Accounting and Chartered Governance and Accountancy Institute in Zimbabwe (CGAIZ) working as Assistant Audit Manager at Zimbabwe Land Commision in Zimbabwe

  5. I am retired, and I want to get certified. How shall I do? I have a university degree and worked as Manager auditor for than 8 years.
    Thank you


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