Certified Internal Auditor

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A certified internal auditor (CIA) is an individual who has met the requirements for certification as established by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). Requirements relate to education, experience, and successful completion of an examination. Achieving the credential as a certified internal auditor is tangible evidence of meeting professional qualifications established by the IIA.

The IIA, established in 1941 at a meeting in New York City, now has a worldwide membership of more than 70,000 in more than one hundred counties. The CIA examination was first administered in 1974.


The CIA examination is offered twice a year, once in May and once in November. The exam has four parts:

Part I: Internal audit process

Part II: Internal audit skills
Problem solving and evaluating audit evidence
Data gathering, documentation, and reporting
Sampling and mathematics

Part III: Management control and technology
Management control
Operations management
Information technology

Part IV: Audit environment
Financial accounting
Managerial accounting
Regulatory environment

Each part of the exam consists of eighty multiple-choice questions. To complete the examination successfully, a candidate must be familiar with the Institute of Internal Auditors' Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing and the institute's Code of Ethics. It is not necessary to be a member of the IIA in order to take the examination. However, a one-year free membership is offered to any nonmember who passes the CIA examination.

The Board of Regents, which administers the CIA exam, recognizes the accomplishments of other professional certifications. Therefore, individuals who already have a certification are eligible to receive credit for part of the exam. Part IV of the exam was designed to offer a Professional Recognition Credit. Candidates who wish to apply for the Professional Recognition Credit need to submit a registration form with a copy of the certificate or letter from the sponsoring organization noting that the person has completed the exam requirements. The sponsoring organization may be contacted to verify the information supplied by the candidate.

For example, in the United States an individual who is a certified public accountant, certified management accountant, certified information systems auditor, or certified bank auditor is eligible to receive Professional Recognition Credit for Part IV of the CIA examination. In Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, the chartered accountant designation would receive Professional Recognition Credit by the Board of Regents.

The exam is nondisclosed. Individuals taking the exam sign a statement indicating that they will not disclose questions and answers subsequent to taking the exam. The IIA considers disclosure of the exam questions by a person who took the examination to be a violation of the code of ethics.

The passing score for the exam is 75 percent. In 1996 there were 4,646 candidates. The average pass rate by exam part is 45 percent. (Gaylord and Reid, 1997).


In order to become a CIA, there is an experience requirement of twenty-four months of internal auditing or its equivalent. Representative equivalent experience can include quality assurance, internal control assessment, or external auditing. A master's degree can be substituted for one year of experience. The Board of Regents determines the acceptability of equivalent work experience.

More information is available from the Institute of Internal Auditors at 247 Maitland Ave., Altamonte Springs, Florida 32701-4201, (407)937-1100, or http://www.theiia.org.

see also Auditing


Gaylord, Gloria L., and Ried, Glenda E. (2006). Careers in Accounting (4th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.

Pickett, K.H. Spencer (2004). The Internal Auditor at Work: a Practical Guide to Everyday Challenges. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.

Charles H. Calhoun

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Certified Internal Auditor

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