The CIA (Certified Internal Auditor) designation is the only globally accepted designation for internal auditors. Anyone can study to become a CIA, but several prerequisites must be fulfilled. If you are considering becoming a CIA, you first need to make sure you are eligible for that qualification.

Certified Internal Auditor Requirements

You must meet a few CIA certification requirements before taking your career to the next step.

1. Education

Before you can sit for the CIA exam, you must make sure you have the proper education.

CIA candidates are required to have a 4-year post-secondary degree (or higher). This degree must come from an accredited university that is recognized by the IIA.

As proof of completed education, you will be required to show either:

  • A copy of your degree or official transcripts
  • A letter from your university confirming your degree
  • A letter from evaluation services that confirms the level of your degree

If your name has changed since your university graduation, you will also be required to show your legal name change documents.

Until recently, the IIA did not accept any form of work experience in place of education. This has since changed, and candidates are now eligible to take the CIA exam if they meet one of the following conditions:

  • Have attained 2 years post-secondary education plus 5 years of verified work experience in internal auditing or an equivalent, or
  • Can demonstrate 7 years of verified work experience in internal auditing or equivalent

2. Work Experience

Once you have fulfilled your education requirements, you must complete a certain amount of work experience.

Two options are available to complete your pre-CIA exam requirements.

First, if you have a 4-year degree and no experience, you must complete 24 months of verified work experience as an internal auditor or the equivalent. Examples of work experience that could be classified as “equivalent” include compliance, external auditing, internal control, and quality assurance.

Second, if you choose to complete a master’s degree, you will only have to complete 12 months of verified work experience because your masters degree program will be considered the equivalent of 12 months of experience.

You are required to submit a complete Experience Verification Form, which can be found on the official IIA website.

3. Character Reference

Given that your future career as a CIA rests on displaying a high level of integrity and morality in addition to professionalism, you are required to submit a character reference.

This reference must be signed by a CIA, CGAP, CCSA, CFSA, CRMA, or your supervisor. You can find the Character Reference Form here.

4. Register for the Exam

Now that you’ve completed all your CIA exam requirements, it’s time to register for the exam.

As of November 2010, the program requires that you complete the certification process, which includes passing all 3 parts of the exam, within 4 years. Should you go over this 4-year time limit, all fees and completed exam parts will be forfeited.

5. Prepare for the Exam

Each part of the CIA exam costs money, so you will want to pass the first time, if possible. Be sure to prepare for your exam one part at a time to increase your chances of passing.

Several great CIA review courses are available for purchase that will help you study and prepare for the big day.

6. Take the Exam

Taking the CIA exam and passing all three parts is the final step of the certified internal auditor requirements.

This computer-based exam makes it possible for candidates to test in more than 500 different locations.

7. Get Your Certificate

Once you’ve taken each section and passed, you will have completed all CIA certification requirements and will be able to order your certificate.

To get your hands on this hard-earned document, log in to CCMS and complete the order form. Your certificate will be shipped to you directly. Should you need a reprint for any reason, you will have to pay an additional $50.

The road to CIA designation may not be easy, but it is certainly worth it! Now that you know the requirements, the next step is to find the best CIA study materials!

CIA SalaryDoes it feel like your accounting career is at a standstill? Perhaps you’ve worked in the same mid-level position for years and can’t seem to leverage yourself into getting that much-deserved raise.

You might just need a simple boost in your credentials.

If you are already a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), why not take the next step and become a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)?

This extra distinction can give your career the extra push it needs to shift the pay scale in your favor. Unsure if it’s worth the effort? Allow us to break it down for you:

Internal Auditor Job Description and Salaries

As you know, CIAs are a specialized division of the accounting profession. Generally, accountants direct the movement of money within a business, whereas the purpose of internal auditors is to analyze and develop procedures. Internal auditors also ensure that money is not being misused in any capacity.

Your salary as a certified internal auditor will depend on your level of experience. Typically, there is a wide range of salaries between junior auditors, senior auditors and audit managers.

Junior Auditor

Junior auditors are more recently certified internal auditors with about one to three years experience in auditing.

The average internal auditor salary at the junior level ranges between $49,500-$65,500.

Some of the responsibilities of a junior auditor include working with more senior auditors to plan audits. During the audit, junior CIAs would be responsible for checking expenditures, revenue and any other financial records to ensure that all the numbers added up correctly.

Senior Auditor

After a few years of experience, you may qualify for senior auditor positions. On average, the salary of a senior internal auditor ranges from $62,750-$80,750.

Senior auditors are responsible for monitoring the day-to-day operations of clients in an accounting firm. This can range from a variety of tasks that may include preparing bank reconciliations or audits, putting together tax reports, analyzing assets and salaries, and preparing financial statements and recommendations.

Having the knowledge to be an accounting firm’s go-to person is an essential step in becoming a senior auditor.

Audit Manager

Audit managers are at the top of the food chain in the CIA world. These individuals earn an average salary of $76,250-$101,500.

Some of the main responsibilities of audit managers include organizing and overseeing internal audits,   (which often includes managing a team of auditors), overseeing the review process, and making recommendations to change policies as necessary. Ultimately, audit managers help companies comply with international and government obligations.

While the salaries above indicate the average salary range for each position, there is one further distinction.

If you are employed by a company that takes in more than $250 million in revenue, your average salary per position will vary. In this type of company, junior auditors often make between $53,250-$70,750, senior certified internal auditors may pull in between $69,750-$90,250 and audit managers typically earn an average salary of $87,750-$121,000.

Salary Comparison

To help you decide whether a career as certified internal auditor is for you, you may want to compare the average salary of CIAs with that of other accounting professionals.

Two common accounting positions are Certified Public Accountants and Enrolled Agents.


The average salary for a CIA in the United States is approximately $64,000, as compared to the average salary of a CPA, which is approximately $62,000.


There is a relatively large difference between the salary of a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) and that of an Enrolled Agent (EA).

CIAs typically make $64,000 per year, whereas EAs only average around $48,000.

This vast difference in salaries is likely related to the roles and responsibilities of each position. While Enrolled Agents are considered tax specialists, their range of expertise is limited. CIAs are uniquely positioned to examine economics and make changes to policy.

Internal Auditor Salary Across The States

Location has a strong impact on what CIAs are paid across the nation. The average salary of a CIA can vary tremendously, depending on the state in which you are employed.

For example, there is a $17,000 difference between the average salary of a certified internal auditor who is working in California compared to a CIA working in the state of Alabama. Of course, variables in the  cost of living in different states must also be factored into the equation.

Alabama and California are not the only states with discrepancies. On average, New York-based CIAs make $75,000 while their counterparts in Ohio only make $61,000. That is a $14,000 difference, although it must be remembered that the cost of living in many parts of New York is significantly higher than in Ohio.

If you are looking to build your accounting career and increase your average salary per year, you should look into adding an internal audit certificate to your portfolio.

Ready to start your CIA career? Be sure to check out the best CIA review courses and study materials to help you pass the exam on your first try!

CIA vs CPAAccounting certifications come in several different forms. Distinguishing the differences between them is key when you’re trying to decide which one is right for you.

With so many abbreviations, things can get confusing. I’m going to break it down to make things simple and straightforward.

One of the most common designations is that of the CPA (Certified Public Accountant), however, just because it’s widely known doesn’t mean it’s the right title for you. Let’s do a CIA vs CPA comparison to find out just how different these positions are.

Job Descriptions


CIAs, spend most of their time conducting internal audits. CIAs are responsible for ensuring that all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed when it comes to a company’s’ financials.

This position requires a high level of morality to ensure that money is not being defrauded or misused in any way.


CPAs, on the other hand, have a broader certification and may be responsible for performing a number of different jobs, such as income tax preparation, record keeping,  consulting, and auditing financial statements to make sure that these are in accordance with GAAP.

CPAs must pass a series of 4 rigorous tests to become licensed. Each state has its own educational and experience requirements for CPA licensure.

Education and Work Requirements


Before you can become a Certified Internal Auditor, you must meet certain educational requirements.

CIA candidates must complete a 4 year post-secondary degree from an accredited university. You will be required to show proof of completion by providing a copy of your degree or transcripts, or a letter of confirmation from your university.

Once you have completed your degree you must gain 2 years of audit work experience. If you decide to pursue a master’s degree, this will count for 12 of the 24 months of work experience.

Until recently, no amount of work experience could be substituted for the educational requirement, but the rules have changed. Candidates are now eligible to sit and study for the CIA exam if they have:

Completed 2 years of post-secondary school in addition to having 5 years of work experience in the auditing field
Completed 7 years of verified work experience in the auditing field.


One of the major differences between a CIA and CPA is their respective education requirements. The state in which you plan to practice as a CPA determines specifically how much education you must have.

For example, in Delaware you are required to have a bachelor’s degree plus 2 years of general accounting work experience to get your CPA license. However, in California you need a graduate degree (150 credits) and 1 year of accounting work experience to get licensed as a CPA. Unlike CIAs, who are nationally certified, CPAs must obtain a license for each state in which they practice.

Taking the Exam


The CIA exam has recently been condensed from a 4-part exam to a 3-part exam.

Part 1 of the CIA exam focuses on internal audit activity, objectivity and concepts of governance. It also covers how to identify risks, management, and planning.

Part 2 encompasses everything from audit engagements and fraud to document and report audits.

The final part of the CIA exam covers business analysis and information technology.


To become a CPA you must pass 4 separate exams. The four sections of the CPA exam are:

  • Audit and Attestation (AUD)
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
  • Regulation (REG)
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)


As you can see, both career paths require quite a lot of schooling and work experience. For many people it comes down to what will be most profitable in the future, which brings us to a comparison of the salary of a CIA vs CPA.

With most positions, salaries vary quite a bit depending on whether you are an entry-level hire or sit in a corner office among the other partners in your firm.

According to, Internal Auditors make between $47,800 and $58,500 a year, with senior and management level internal auditors making closer to $100,000 or more. lists the salary range of a CPA as between $41,800 and $98,400 a year, with senior level experienced CPAs making as much as $125,000, if not more.

Of course, depending on your motivation and ability to move up the career ladder, you have the potential to earn significantly more in both careers.

If you have any experience with these 2 accounting designations and would like to share it with our readers, please leave a comment in the box below, I’d love to hear from you!

How to Become a CIAMost people who hear the term CIA immediately visualize stealthy, wealthy and overworked government agents.

The other version of the CIA is a little less exciting, but just as essential to the accounting community.

What is a CIA?

CIA stands for Certified Internal Auditor. Basically, a CIA is an accountant who conducts internal audits and is certified.

The CIA certification is the highest designation offered by the Institute of Internal Auditors. This certification is recognized worldwide, which is why there are so many prerequisites that must be completed beforehand.

Achieving the CIA distinction is a way of demonstrating your extensive professional knowledge of the internal audit profession.

How to Become a CIA

As mentioned earlier, becoming a CIA involves many prerequisites. To be sure you are ready to sit for the CIA exam, you should ascertain that you have both the necessary educational and work qualifications.


First and foremost, potential CIAs must complete a 4-year (or higher) post-secondary degree. This degree must be from an accredited university.

To prove your educational experience, you will be asked to show a copy of your degree or transcripts, a letter from your university that confirms your degree, or a letter from evaluation services that verify the level of your degree.

Until recently, there was no alternative to completing the 4-year post-secondary degree. Now, the Global Board of Directors will allow an alternate path.

Those who wish to become a CIA without having attained a 4-year degree are eligible if they:

  • Complete 2 years of post-secondary education and complete 5 years of verified work experience in internal auditing or its equivalent, or
  • Complete 7 years of work experience in internal auditing or its equivalent.

Work Experience

Those candidates who have completed a post-secondary degree must also obtain 2 years of internal audit experience. Should you choose to remain in school and complete a Master’s Degree, this will count for 12 of the 24 months of experience that is required.

Although you are able to apply and sit for the exam without completing your work experience, you will not become certified until all aspects of the program have been satisfactorily completed.

Character Reference

The CIA certification process also requires you to submit a character reference. This character reference must be signed by a CIA, CGAP, CCSA, CFSA, CRMA, or your supervisor.

This requirement serves to help establish that you are a professional of high moral integrity.


Taking the CIA exam

The final step to becoming a certified internal auditor involves taking the CIA exam. The Certified Internal Auditor exam is a 3-part exam that tests candidates’ knowledge of internal auditing practices and their understanding of related issues, risks, and remedies.

Part 1

Part 1 of the CIA exam focuses on responsibilities of the internal audit activity, objectivity, concepts of governance, identifying risks, management and planning.

Part 2

Part 2 tests candidates on the steps used to conduct audit engagements, elements of fraud, how to document and report audits, as well as follow-up procedures.

Part 3

This part is all about business analysis and information technology. During part 3 of the CIA exam, candidates are tested on quality management, financial and managerial accounting, regulatory and economic impacts, and concepts relating to information technology.

These three parts of the exam combined are considered the core global syllabus that is aligned with the Institute of Internal Auditors International (IIA) Professional Practices Framework.

Part 4

In previous years there was a 4th section of the CIA exam that focused on business management skills. Candidates were able to apply for exemption from this section via Professional Recognition Credit based on their area of expertise and experience. However, as of June 2013, this section has been integrated into part 3 of CIA exam.

CIA Exam Fees

Now that you know what you’re being tested on, you may want to know what it will cost you.

The total cost of the Certified Internal Auditor exam is made up of several fees. How much you will pay for the exam depends on whether you are an IIA member, a non-member, or a student/professor.


IIA Member

Non Member


Application Fee (per program)




Part 1




Part 2




Part 3




Cancellation/Rescheduling Fee




If you interested in earning this designation, be sure to complete all of the requirements. Once these are in order, be sure to enroll in a quality CIA exam review course to increase your odds of passing each section of this challenging exam on the first try.

CIA CPE Requirements & Course Recommendations

You’ve worked hard to become a Certified Internal Auditor, but don’t put your study books away just yet. To maintain your CIA designation, you are required to fulfill certain CIA CPE requirements (Continuing Professional Education).


There are two reasons why you must complete CIA CPE to stay in good standing with the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA):

  • Maintenance of your knowledge and skills
  • Updating your knowledge and skills to reflect any improvements and developments that have been made to the internal auditing standards, procedures, and techniques


If you are already a CIA, it is your responsibility to certify that your CPE hours are complete and that they adhere to the IIA established guidelines. You can do this by submitting a form on an annual basis that serves as proof that your Continuing Education requirements have been met.

The annual submission of your CPE requirements is due by December 31st of each year and can be done on the IIA’s Certification Candidate Management System (CCMS).

Once you submit your completed CPE form, the IIA will send you a letter of acknowledgement that they have received, reviewed and viewed your CPE as being in accordance with their standards. This process allows them to keep track of active and inactive CIAs.


Making sure you know how to properly report your CIA continuing education will make maintaining your designation easier. To do so, make sure your report includes the following information:

  • Title of CPE courses and/or the description of content covered
  • All dates you attended
  • List the location of your course or program
  • If there was a sponsoring organization, include their name
  • Contact hours of credit as recommended by your course sponsor
  • Include verification of completion via certificate, letter or other written attestation
  • Document any supporting publications, presentations, or participation you may have had

Each CIA who submits a report should keep all of this documentation on file for a minimum of 3 years. This will cover you in the event that the IIA (or its designee) requests this information.


There are 5 different reporting categories for CIA continuing education. Here are their descriptions and requirements:

1. Practicing CIAs

A CIA who is currently performing auditing functions is required to complete 40 hours of CPE each year.

2. Non-Practicing CIAs

A CIA who is not currently practicing may change their certification status on their CCMS profile, but is still required to complete 20 hours of CPE each year.

Maintaining 20 hours of CIA CPE allows CIAs to maintain their designation, but they are not able to practice internal auditing functions.

3. Retired CIAs

CIAs who are not performing internal auditing functions because of retirement must change their status in the CCMS. They are not required to complete any CPE, but they are also not allowed to perform any internal auditing functions.

4. Inactive (Grace Period) Status

CIAs who fail to meet the IIA’s CPE requirements will automatically be placed in inactive status and may not use their CIA designation. This remains the case until they have submitted the previous year’s CPE report. Any wrongful use of their designation will be reported to the IIA for disciplinary action.

5. Reinstatement to Active Status

CIAs who have been inactive for longer than 12 months are required to report CPE hours at the status level that applies to their situation. They will also be required to pay a reinstatement fee when they complete their reporting.


The following criteria are used to determine whether potential CPE courses are acceptable for CIA’s:
The course must be a formal program of learning that contributes directly to the professional competence of a CIA. Acceptable programs should:

  • Contribute to professional competence.
  • Specify the level of knowledge or competence that the participants should be able to display upon completion of the program.
  • State education or experience pre-requisites, if applicable.
  • Be developed by qualified individuals.
  • Provide content that is up to date.
  • Be professional.


Illumeo is an online platform for continuing education that we highly recommend for CIA’s interested in CPE credits. It features a large catalog of courses and webinars covering intricate aspects of internal auditing, as well as other finance and accounting based disciplines. For more information on this platform, take a look at our review below.


The most widely used CIA CPE courses are offered by Gleim CIA Review. They offers a variety of different classes that will fulfill all of the necessary requirements. According to our research, this company has a wider selection of courses than any other company in the CIA exam industry.


When you are first given your CIA designation, you will be awarded CPE hours. In the year you first earn your designation, you will receive 40 hours of CPE and an additional 40 hours for the next year. These 80 hours are based on earning your designation, not on NASBA sponsorship.
In the following years, you can be awarded CPE hours in several different categories, but each is capped at a certain number of hours:


Maximum Hours Awarded







Oral Presentations




External Quality Assessments


Make sure you stay up to date on your studies and record your CPE appropriately to avoid any problems with maintaining your CIA designation.