What is the Certified Internal Auditor Certification?

certified internal auditor certification

The basic professional function associated with certified internal auditor certification, or CIA status, is ensuring that a company’s or agency’s funds are not mismanaged. That is, a person with CIA status is tasked with making sure the money that is supposed to be in a given place is, in fact, in that place, and that it moves from place to place efficiently and ethically. Earning the certification is not easy, however, but it bespeaks both professional skills and trustworthiness, both of which make a person much more valuable as a member of any organization.

Defining CIA Status

The Institute of Internal Auditors calls the CIA “a valuable accomplishment and a professional advantage for auditors at all stages of their careers” that distinguishes those who have it from other accounting professionals in terms of skill and ethical uprightness. It is a mark that those who hold it not only know accounting theory and practice well enough to be able to meaningfully review and interpret the accounting documents produced by others around the world, but also that they are of sufficiently sound judgment and moral fortitude that they will know appropriately how to act upon any discrepancies they find between what they see and what should be. Although it is not associated with any government, it is recognized internationally as a credential of value, meaning that companies the world over can rest assured that those who hold CIA status represent the best of what the accounting profession has to offer.

Earning CIA Status

Achieving certified internal auditor certification is no easy task. The Institute remarks that to be eligible to sit for the exam which awards CIA status, a person must hold at least a baccalaureate, an associate’s with no less than five years auditing experience or have seven years of experience in auditing. Thus, before a person can even apply to seek CIA status, that person must be a professional in the field, as attested by others. Character references and agreement to abide by a strict code of ethics are also required of applicants, as is a commitment to continuing education. Accounting knowledge changes, after all, as do wasteful practices, and those who have CIA status must continually learn how to apply the one to combat the other.

Certification itself comes from a three-part exam totaling some six and a half hours. The first part is the longest at two and a half hours; it covers the basics of internal auditing. The second part, a two-hour test, covers management and control issues. The third part, also two hours, covers ethics, organizational structures, information technology and other topics associated with the performance of audits within companies and agencies. This ensures that beginning CIAs are thoroughly vetted for their knowledge, skills and ethical stances, providing a foundation upon which to build with the required continuing education demanded of the status.


There are other certifications for accountants to earn, of course; the CPA and CMA are among the more common. Further, nothing prevents a person from holding multiple certifications. Having certified internal auditor certification, though, marks a person as particularly skilled and trustworthy, and thus well worth having as part of any organization.

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