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Top 6 Reasons to Be a Certified Internal Auditor


With continuous changes in financial reporting legislation, corporate taxes, and global accounting standards, many businesses are now choosing to hire full-time internal auditors despite not always possessing the resources to do so.

They recognize the importance of having a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) on staff — someone who is well-versed in reviewing and assessing a company’s operations, examining financial statements, inventory reports, budgeting and financial data, and evaluating risk for each of its departments.

The need for the expertise of internal auditors has never been more pronounced. So, if you’re considering enrolling in a CIA course to earn your certification, know that you’ve picked the right time and field.

What is a Certified Internal Auditor?

A Certified Internal Auditor is the only recognized designation for accountants and internal auditors worldwide. It’s offered by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), and it attests to you being able to:

  • Holds an up-to-date understanding of The IIA’s International Professional Practices Framework (IPPF) and exhibits its practical application.
  • Execute an audit engagement in compliance with the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing.
  • Grasp the concept of organizational governance and demonstrate proficiency in using tools and techniques for risk and control assessment.
  • Possess the business, IT, and management expertise required for internal auditing.

CIAs typically work in the audit department of commercial enterprises, financial institutions, or government agencies to review their financial records and identify deficiencies in their internal control systems. Unlike Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), who are also trained to perform many of the same duties, CIAs have a more specialized focus.

In today’s digital age, aspiring CIAs can take advantage of many online financial training courses to take their first steps toward certification without the hardship of balancing their busy schedules with attending traditional classroom courses.

6 Reasons Why You Should Become a Certified Internal Auditor

Is the Certified Internal Auditor designation worth the hard work you’ll put into it? Here are six reasons to answer this question with a resounding yes.

Skills and Expertise

To be admitted into the CIA program, candidates must comply with the conditions of the IIA, including holding specific educational requirements, demonstrating professional experience, passing the three-part CIA exam, adhering to the IIA code of ethics, and earning annual continuing professional education (CPE) credits.

If you were to look at one of these requirements closely (the CIA exam, for example), you can see that it’s a demanding and comprehensive framework that divides it into three distinct categories:

Part I – Essentials of Internal Auditing

Focus areas: the foundation of internal auditing, proficiency and due professional care, independence and objectivity, governance, risk management and control, quality assurance and improvement programs, and fraud risk.

Part II – Practice of Internal Auditing

Focus areas: planning the engagement, managing the internal audit activity, communicating engagement results, and monitoring progress.

Part III – Business Knowledge for Internal Auditing

Focus areas: information security, business acumen, information technology, and financial management.

Wouldn’t you say that passing this exam is in and of itself an accomplishment that paints you as an expert in the field of internal audit and reflects your value to any potential employer?

People doing audit

Global Recognition

As the only globally recognized internal audit designation, the CIA is the gold standard for internal auditing, and its value remains the same no matter where you work. Additionally, the IIA is an internationally renowned internal auditing organization. It has over 230,000 members worldwide and awarded 185,000+ CIA designations in 170 countries.

So, when you become a CIA, you join an international group of professionals who present many networking and career advancement opportunities, not just in your home country but all around the globe.

Higher Income

CIAs earn an average of $38,000 more annually than their non-certified peers, based on the IIA’s 2017 Internal Audit Compensation Study (derived from U.S. responses). And the more years of experience they have, the higher their salaries tend to be.

According to Payscale, the average annual salary of an entry-level CIA is $60,000, with the potential for incremental increases of 25% for senior internal auditors (2-3 years) and almost 29% for those in managerial roles.

Better Career Prospects

As mentioned, internal auditors are among the exceedingly most in demand jobs at public and private businesses, non-profit companies, and government agencies at all levels. That’s because they perform invaluable functions, such as corporate governance, managing financial risk, maintaining internal control, and detecting and preventing fraud.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that the number of auditing and accounting job openings will increase to 141,800 by 2026. Some common CIA career paths include:

  • Auditing Specialist
  • Risk Assessment Specialist
  • Financial Analyst
  • Internal Controls Auditor
  • Information Systems Auditor
  • Audit Supervisor/Manager
  • Finance Director/VP
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Controller

Respect and Credibility

Because everyone in the internal audit field knows the effort you must put forth to obtain the CIA certification, your colleagues’ regard for your expertise and authority on all things finance and internal auditing will be palpable.

Additionally, you might find yourself entrusted with more responsibility and greater autonomy. You may also be called on to lend your expert opinion to senior leadership on pertinent financial and operational matters.

Flexible Eligibility Requirements

Compared to other certifications, such as the CPA or CFA, the CIA program is relatively more lenient when it comes to entrance requirements. For example, the IIA still prefers candidates to have higher education (bachelor’s degree or higher). Still, the level of education that the IIA accepts can vary based on the applicant’s prior professional experience.

For instance, if a candidate only has a High School Diploma, Associates Degree, GCE, A-Level, or equivalent but has five or more years of professional internal audit experience, they can still qualify for the program.

Conversely, if you have a Master’s Degree, you only need one year of experience to qualify for the CIA program.


As you can see, becoming a CIA has its rewards, from higher earning potential to better career prospects. CIAs are also usually retained by companies as full-time employees, whereas CPAs are often hired in a consultant capacity.

So, if you’re looking to expand and hone your financial acumen, have financial growth, gain global recognition, and develop a distinguished career in internal auditing, the CIA is what you need.