Certified Internal Auditor Basics

Certified Internal Auditor Basics
CIA Requirements   |   Structure of the Exam   |   CIA Exam vs. CPA and CMA Exam


The Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) exam is a three-part series of tests administered by The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) to evaluate a candidate’s demonstrated knowledge of current internal auditing practices as well as internal audit issues, risks and remedies.

CIA Requirements

To be eligible for CIA certification, candidates must have earned the equivalent of an associate’s degree or higher from an accredited university or post-secondary institution. There are then different work experience requirements, depending on the level of the degree earned. They are as follows:

If you do not hold a degree, you may be eligible for CIA certification if you can document seven years of work experience in the auditing field. As always, consult the IIA website or contact the organization directly for answers to your eligibility questions.

In addition to education and work requirements, candidates must submit a Character Reference Form signed by a CIA, CGAP, CCSA, CFSA, CRMA, or the candidate’s work supervisor.

You may apply to the CIA program and even sit for the CIA exam prior to satisfying the professional experience requirement. However, you will not be certified until all program requirements have been met. In all, you have a total of four years from application to complete the program and earn certification.

The CIA Exam’s Format

The CIA exam is fully computerized and administered at more than 500 Prometric testing centers throughout the world. You can schedule to take your exams at any time during the year.

All questions are multiple choice, which means you can get your unofficial score immediately after completing the exam (as well as on the official score later via the IAA website)

CIA Exam Part 1 – Internal Audit Basics

Questions: 125 Multiple Choice
Time: 2.5 Hours

On Part 1 of the CIA exam, topics to be tested include aspects of mandatory guidance from the IPPF; internal control and risk concepts; and key techniques for conducting internal audit engagements.

CIA Exam Part 2 – Internal Audit Practice

Questions: 100 Multiple Choice
Time: 2 Hours

Part 2 topics tested include managing the internal audit function and establishing a risk-based plan; the steps to manage individual engagements, including planning, supervision, communicating results, and monitoring outcomes; and fraud risks and controls.

CIA Exam Part 3 – Internal Audit Knowledge Elements

Questions: 100 Multiple Choice
Time: 2 Hours

Part 3 tests candidates’ knowledge of governance and business ethics; risk management; organizational structure, including business processes and risks; communication; management and leadership principles; information technology and business continuity; financial management; and the global business environment.

How Does It Compare to CPA and CMA Exams?

This is a very common question, as there are many CPAs and CMAs interested in adding CIA certification to their professional credentials. Obviously, the CIA exam is similar in terms of content as you would find on the AUD section of the CPA exam, and to a lesser extent, BEC and REG.

However, the CMA exam has much longer, more complex kinds of questions, as well as two essay questions. In this regard, the CIA exam is much closer to what you would experience in the MCQ testlets on the CPA exam.

Learn how to earn a CIA certification here.