About the CIA® Exam
Eligibility, Syllabus, Duration, Fees & Career Paths

The Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) exam is a three-part exam administered by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). All three parts of the CIA exam include 100-125 multiple-choice questions testing candidates’ understanding of risk management, fraud, the internal audit process, and business acumen. Keep reading to learn about the CIA exam, including eligibility, format, pass rates, and more.

What Is the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) Exam?

The Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) designation is a globally recognized credential for auditing professionals. Those who pursue the CIA designation include internal corporate control managers, auditors, directors of finance, accounting operations managers, and more. To become a CIA, candidates must pass all three parts of the CIA exam. The CIA exam is offered around the world in 14 languages and evaluates candidates through challenging multiple-choice questions.

Passing Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of the CIA exam indicates expertise and global prestige in the internal auditing space.

Certified Internal Auditing Quick Facts

  • CIA stands for Certified Internal Auditor.
  • CIAs specialize in internal processes and controls, risk management, and business best practices.
  • CIA certification requirements include earning a bachelor’s degree, meeting one of several experience requirements, and continuing education.
  • The CIA exam costs about $740-1,515 depending on your IIA membership status.
  • The CIA exam is offered around the world via Pearson VUE testing centers.
  • A CIA exam review course can help you earn a passing score.
  • Candidates have a maximum of three years to pass the exam and meet all exit requirements.

CIA Exam Eligibility Requirements

Becoming a Certified Internal Auditor requires time and effort—but the opportunities for career advancement are worth it. Before you get started, make sure you’re familiar with the eligibility requirements listed below.

CIA Education Requirement

There are several ways to meet the CIA education requirements:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • OR become an active Internal Audit Practitioner designation holder
  • OR hold minimum 5 years of internal auditing experience in addition to a high school diploma, associates degree, GCE, A-Level or equivalent

Note: You are not required to have your degree at the time of sitting for the CIA exam. The IIA permits active students in their final year of college and/or active students at Approved Internal Audit Education Partnership schools to sit for the exam.

Your CIA certification will not be awarded until you have earned your degree and completed all CIA program requirements.

Proof of your education or experience must be submitted within three years of getting approval to enter the CIA exam program.

CIA Experience Requirement

Your required internal auditor (or equivalent) experience depends upon your education background. All education and experience levels still require the passing of Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of the CIA exam.

Level of Education Internal Auditor Professional Experience
Master’s Degree 1 Year
Bachelor’s Degree 2 Years
Active Internal Audit Practitioner Experience 5 Years
High School or Associate’s Degree, etc. 5 Years

Not all experience must be specifically in internal auditing. Experience in the below areas is also acceptable per the IIA: 

  • Quality Assurance
  • Risk Management
  • Audit/Assessment Disciplines
  • Compliance
  • External Audit
  • Internal Controls 

CIA Certification Requirement

The requirements to earn your CIA designation are outlined in the steps below.

  1. Create profile in IIA’s Certification Candidate Management System (CCMS)
  2. Apply to join the CIA exam program - pay the application fee 
  3. Upload proof of identity and education to the CCMS 
  4. Receive testing authorization from the IIA 
  5. Schedule and pass Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of the CIA exam via a Pearson VUE Testing Center location 
  6. Complete the proof of experience process 
  7. Receive notification of certification from the IIA
  8. Complete 40 annual CPE hours to maintain your certification

CIA Certification Requirement Exemptions

Good news! If you already have one of the following accounting designations, your education and/or work experience requirement is waived by the Professional Certification Board. To qualify for exemptions, you must complete the appropriate fields on your CIA application. IIA administrators will use that information to verify that your membership and/or license is both valid and active.

Designation Waived CIA Certification Requirement
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Qualified Members Education and Professional Experience
US Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Active License Holders Education
You have one goal–to pass the CIA exam.
Our course will help you pass all three parts and elevate your accounting career.

CIA Exam Registration & Scheduling

Follow the below steps to fulfill the exam requirement for your CIA certification.

  1. Create your profile in IIA’s Certification Candidate Management System (CCMS)
  2. Complete the CIA exam program application
  3. Upload proof of identity and proof of education
  4. Get your testing authorization from the IIA
  5. Register for the CIA exam (you may take Parts 1, 2, and 3 in any order)
  6. Pay your CIA exam fee
  7. Schedule your chosen CIA exam part in the IIA’s CCMS with a Pearson VUE testing center location

You may reschedule your CIA exam if needed up to 48 hours before your appointment, but a $75 rescheduling fee applies.

CIA Exam Testing Centers

All three parts of the CIA exam are offered year-round via about 900 Pearson VUE testing centers around the world. Many testing centers are open six days per week, offering flexibility regarding when to take your exam. Visit Pearson VUE’s online IIA store for more information.

Taking the CIA Exam at Home

Some candidates may also be able to take the exam from home. However, it is important to note that there are several rules for remote testing dictated by Pearson VUE to maintain the security and authenticity of your exam. Remote candidates are monitored through audio and video on their computers throughout the exam administration, and may be recorded. Some of these rules include:

  • Stay in your designated testing space, in view of your webcam throughout your exam
  • Do not get up or leave your testing environment unless during a scheduled, approved break
  • Do not communicate with anyone other than your proctor
  • Do not read the test questions aloud; mumbling or speaking out loud will lead to a warning
  • Keep your mobile phone in the room where you’re testing, but out of arm’s reach
  • Eating, smoking, or other tobacco use is prohibited
  • Headphones and headsets (wired or Bluetooth) are not permitted

If you meet the setup requirements and follow the rules set by Pearson, taking your CIA exam remotely may be an option for you.

CIA Exam Retake Policy

Candidates who fail their CIA exam part must observe a 30-day waiting period before retaking the exam. There is no limit to the number of times you take a CIA exam part, but you must pass all three exams before your certification eligibility period expires. If you do not complete all certification requirements before eligibility period expiration, you must purchase a one-time extension.

We strongly recommend you carefully evaluate your recent exam performance and overall preparedness before retaking the failed CIA exam part. In order to pass, you must identify areas of weakness and develop a study plan to address them before test day.

Depending on the part you are taking, we recommend studying 60-100 hours per part to maximize your success, as the CIA exam is considered challenging.

Weeks Spent Studying Recommended Hours Per Week
6 Weeks 10- 16.5 Hours
8 Weeks 7.5-12.5 Hours
10 Weeks 6-10 Hours
12 Weeks 5-8.5 Hours

Most people attempt to condense their studying into much tighter timelines, which can sometimes lead to stress and last-minute cramming. So it’s best to find CIA study materials that can help with time management, study scheduling, and engaging lessons, like UWorld CIA Review.

CIA Exam Cost

Review the CIA exam fees listed below. Note that these fees depend on whether you are a member of the IIA, whether you are a student or a professional, and may also vary by region.

IIA Member Non-IIA Member Student
Membership Fees* $280 $0 $0
Application Fees $120 $240 $65
CIA Exam Fees
Part 1 $310 $445 $245
Part 2 $280 $415 $215
Part 3 $280 $415 $215
TOTAL $1,270 $1,515 $740

Additional CIA Certification & Exam Fees

The above fees do not include exam extensions, test date rescheduling, or cancellation. Additional fees are:

  • Exam Registration Extension (75 days maximum): $100
  • Exam Reschedule or Cancellation Fee: $75
  • One-Time 12-Month Certification Program Eligibility Extension: $275

CPE reporting and certification renewal fees vary by country. For Certified Internal Auditors residing in North America, the following CPE reporting fee applies:

  • IIA Non-Member: $120
  • IIA Member: $0 (included with membership)

CIA Exam Format

The CIA exam evaluates your knowledge of 14 essential auditing domains. Including only multiple-choice questions, Part 1, Part, 2 and Part 3 of the CIA exam assess your attention to detail, your reading comprehension skills, and your ability to apply Institute of Internal Auditor-specified practical and ethical standards to real-world business situations.

While there is no essay or short answer section on the CIA exam, it is important to remember to take your time and read carefully. Having a clear understanding of the exam timing for each part allows you to pace yourself appropriately on test day.

CIA Exam Part Total Multiple-Choice Questions Duration
Part 1 125 Questions 150 Minutes
Part 2 100 Questions 120 Minutes
Part 3 100 Questions 120 Minutes

Because the CIA exam is entirely multiple-choice, you will know immediately after you conclude your testing session whether you have passed or failed. However, it is important to note that the result you receive at the testing center is not your official score, as CIA exam scores are scaled.

CIA Exam Topics & Weightage

The CIA exam tests your comprehension of risk management, the standard internal audit process, business acumen, cybersecurity, and other key topics:

Part 1: Essentials of Internal Auditing

  • Foundations of Internal Auditing - 15%
  • Independence and Objectivity - 15%
  • Proficiency and Due Professional Care - 18%
  • Quality Assurance and Improvement Program - 7%
  • Governance, Risk Management, and Control - 35%
  • Fraud Risks - 10%

Part 2: Practice of Internal Auditing

  • Managing the Internal Audit Activity - 20%
  • Planning the Engagement - 20%
  • Performing the Engagement - 40%
  • Communicating Engagement Results and Monitoring Progress - 20%

Part 3: Business Knowledge for Internal Auditing

  • Business Acumen - 35%
  • Information Security - 25%
  • Information Technology - 20%
  • Financial Management - 20%

CIA Exam Results

Unofficial CIA exam results are delivered at the conclusion of candidates’ scheduled exam appointments at the Pearson VUE testing center. This means no long waiting period to find out if you have passed or failed your selected exam part—which can be both relieving and a little nerve wracking.

Upon leaving the exam room, the administrator at your testing center will print your exam result—however, note that you will get an email with your official results about 48 hours after your exam concludes. This is because the CIA exam is scaled, and because the IIA reviews all candidates’ exams to ensure there are no irregularities or issues.

You will only receive a detailed score report and your overall score if you have failed. This report is a great indicator of where your strengths and weaknesses are for optimal studying before scheduling your next attempt.

If you pass, you will only get a notification alerting you that you have successfully completed the exam. Passing candidates do not receive numerical scores.

Note that if you fail, you will need to repay your exam scheduling fees.

The CIA Exam Scoring Scale

The IIA states that every exam question contributing to your score has been pre-tested to ensure it fairly evaluates candidates and has statistical validity. All three parts of the CIA exam are scaled, meaning your raw score is not considered your final score.

Your raw score is based on the number of questions you answered correctly and then converted to a reporting scale of 250-750 points.

A passing score is 600 points or higher. Only those who fail the CIA exam will receive a detailed score report—the detailed score report includes a numeric score and a list of the exam topics to be addressed during preparation for a retake.

Upon leaving the testing center, you will get an unofficial score report, so you will know how you performed right away.

CIA Exam Passing Score & Pass Rates

A passing score on each part of the CIA exam is 600 points or higher. In other words, 600 out of 750 possible points is the minimum passing scaled score. The scaled score allows candidates to know how they performed within the passing standard of 600.

The IIA releases global CIA exam pass rates on their website every year. Current CIA exam pass rates are as follows:

CIA Exam Part Pass Rate
Part 1 41%
Part 2 44%
Part 3 50%

The average pass rate for all three parts of the CIA exam is 45%, so this is not an easy certification to earn. However, with the right prep tools, you can set yourself up for exam day success.

What to Expect on Exam Day

No matter where you take the CIA exam, approach your scheduled test date with confidence. You’ve got this! Below are some tips and requirements to consider, whether you plan to sit for your upcoming exam in a testing center or at home.

Identification Requirements

To enter the testing center or begin your online proctored exam at home, you must present a government-issued photo ID including your name exactly as it appears on your CIA exam application.

Your ID information must be identical to that within your CCMS profile and exactly how it appears on your Pearson VUE exam appointment confirmation. Depending on your testing location, you may also be asked to scan your handprint, sign on a digital signature pad, and have your photograph taken.

Taking the CIA Exam at a Pearson VUE Testing Center

Before arriving at the testing center, make sure you double-check your exam appointment details, including the location and time. Upon arrival, you’ll be required to present valid identification and may undergo security procedures, such as metal detection or bag inspection.

A testing administrator will ask you to sign your name on a digital signature pad, and may direct you to place your hand on a scanner. Scanning your handprint is a measure Pearson VUE takes to prevent anyone from completing an exam in your name. The test administrator will also take your photo to store with your test results.

You will be directed to put your watch, phone, purse, wallet, and other personal items into a locker, as these items are not permitted into the testing room.

Once checked in, you’ll be directed to your assigned testing station equipped with a computer and necessary exam materials. Before the exam begins, you’ll get instructions on the exam format, time limits, and navigation of the testing interface.

What to Bring on Test Day

  • Valid Form(s) of Identification - Two forms of ID are required, including one primary ID like a driver's license, passport, or military ID.Your IDs must match your name and details exactly as you entered them when registering for your CIA exam.
  • Exam Registration and Appointment Confirmation Emails - Print out these emails to present them prior to your appointment.
  • Prescription Medications - If needed, medications are allowed but must be inspected.
  • Sweater/Jacket - Test centers can be cool, so dress in lightweight layers.
  • Snacks/Beverages - You cannot bring snacks into the testing room, but may put them in your locker for access during breaks. The CIA exam has no scheduled breaks (for candidates without special accommodations), so if you leave to eat, your exam clock will continue running through your return to your desk.

Taking the CIA Exam at Home

If you’re taking the CIA exam at home, make sure you do the following before test day:

  • Complete the Pearson VUE system test and review all technical requirements.
  • Make sure your chosen testing space is private, clean, quiet and distraction-free.
  • Make sure your laptop or desktop computer has up-to-date software to avoid mid-test restarts.
  • If using a laptop, ensure it is charged and plugged in so you avoid battery mishaps during your exam.
  • Make sure you have a strong internet connection.
  • Have your passport and/or driver’s license ready for photos.

Remote exam candidates must consent to monitoring through webcam and microphone before beginning the testing session. A real person (greeter) will help you check in virtually before the exam begins, and another person (proctor) will monitor you to prevent cheating or other policy violations.

Learn more about taking your CIA exam at home here.

Do’s and Don’ts on CIA Test Day

Things to Do on CIA Exam Day:

  • Arrive at the test center early (at least 30 minutes before your scheduled exam time)
  • Bring two proper forms of identification (e.g. driver's license, passport)
  • Review the test admission requirements and procedures
  • Visit the restroom before check-in if needed
  • Use the basic calculators and whiteboards/markers provided at the testing stations

Things NOT to Do on CIA Exam Day:

  • Don't be late or you may not get seated for the exam
  • Don't bring unauthorized items (cell phones, notes, study materials, etc.)
  • Don't try to access unauthorized websites/software during testing
  • Don't talk to or disturb other test-takers
  • Don't bring outside calculators—only use the basic on-screen one provided
  • Don't leave the testing room for unauthorized breaks
  • Don't panic—the exam is challenging but you prepared for this!

Following the proper protocols and avoiding violating any rules is crucial on exam day. Stay calm, focused, and do your best!

Earning the CIA Certification

Passing all three parts of the CIA exam is a major victory! But in order to officially secure your Certified Internal Auditor designation, you must complete a few additional steps after passing your exams. Here’s what’s left:

Education Verification

If you were still in your undergraduate or graduate program while enrolling in the CIA exam program, it is time to upload proof of your degree to the CCMS. Acceptable proof of education include:

  • A copy of your degree or official transcripts from the accredited college or university
  • A letter from your institution confirming your degree
  • A letter from an academic evaluation service confirming your degree level

Professional Experience Verification

The IIA considers proof of experience an exit requirement for its certification programs. You can provide proof of necessary experience any time after your application to enroll in the CIA exam program is approved, but it is required after you pass your exams. If the experience requirement is not met, you cannot become certified.

To submit your proof of experience, log into your CCMS profile and follow the prompts.

If you had provisional entrance to the exams based on education alone, you cannot be fully certified until the experience requirement is met.

Completed CIA Certification

Once your education, experience, and exam scores are all verified by the IIA, you will receive notification via email that you have become certified and may now publicly use the designation of Certified Internal Auditor.

If you choose to opt in, the IIA will add you to the IIA Certification Registry.

As long as your certification is active, electronic certificates are available online. Printed, framed certificates can be ordered directly from the IIA for a fee.

The IIA also offers social media badging for LinkedIn, your email signature, or other online activity.

Continued Professional Education (CPE) for CIAs

The IIA requires Certified Internal Auditors to renew their designations each year. All CIAs must complete continuing professional education credit hours (CPE) by December 31 annually. Failure to comply prevents you from being able to use your certification, and may result in the revocation of your certification upon going 24 months without CPE renewal.

Every year, the IIA randomly audits certified individuals to make sure they are complying with CPE requirements. Upon being selected for an audit, you must submit your CPE certificates as proof of the hours you have attested to.

CPE Requirements for CIAs

If you are an active CIA certificate holder, you must complete 40 hours of CPE annually. At least two CPE hours must be dedicated to ethics training. See the chart below for more details:

Status Status Definition Currently Practicing? Annual CPE Hours Required
Active Actively working in internal audit or related activities YES 40
Non-Practicing Not retired but not working in internal audit or related activities NO 20
Retired No longer working NO 0

Certified Internal Auditor Careers

Certified Internal Auditors provide a level of transparency and integrity to organizations through audit processes and recommendations for better practice. Internal auditing is a growing profession that requires specializing in internal processes and controls to aid business leaders in ethical and efficient decision making and procedures. Internal auditors spend their careers providing independent and objective assessments of a company’s operations.  

But what would a career in internal auditing really look like? 

CIAs deliver value to businesses in many ways, including: 

  • Analyzing overall risk and identifying potential 
  • Catching and preventing fraud, theft, and data inaccuracies 
  • Working across a variety of industries, including government and healthcare 
  • Meeting high demand - internal auditors are some of the most valued accounting and finance roles in today’s job market 

CIAs are globally recognized as the premier professionals in internal audit, elevating your salary potential, increasing your career opportunities and mobility, and helping you stand out from candidates seeking internal audit roles while holding other certifications such as CMA or CPA. 

Benefits of Obtaining the CIA Certification

Earning your Certified Internal Auditor designation demonstrates a commitment to the discipline, a high level of professionalism, and expertise in the practice of internal auditing. Becoming a Certified Internal Auditor can:

  • Boost your credibility
  • Expand your career opportunities 
  • Show your commitment to advancing your own professional development 
  • Provide proof of your expertise within the internal auditing profession
  • Increase your confidence on the job 

High Demand for CIAs

  • CIAs are highly desirable professionals, with 180,000+ certificate holders globally vs. 670,000 CPAs.
  • The CIA designation makes professionals stand out and more likely to land coveted, high-paying positions.

Higher Earning Potential

  • CIAs earn as much as 51% more than non-certified auditors or auditors with other accounting designations.

International Acclaim

  • Internal auditing is an essential global profession—the IIA is the internal audit field’s leading body in standards, certifications, professional education, and technical guidance around the world.
  • The IIA releases Global Internal Audit Standards™ to ensure the integrity of audit practice worldwide.
  • CIAs are at the forefront of these standards—making them leaders in auditing both at home and abroad.

Check out the number of Certified Internal Auditors by region below:

Region Number of Certificate Holders Since 1974
North America 58,000+
Central/South America 1,800+
Europe 20,000+
Africa 5,000+
Middle East 5,000+
Asia Pacific 86,000+

Practical Skills

  • CIAs demonstrate advanced skills in operations analysis, compliance review, fraud prevention, risk analysis and management, and internal processes. 
  • These practical business skills help CIAs truly understand organizational needs.

Path to Powerful Positions

  • CIAs are prepared for leadership roles like CFO and Controller positions. 
  • The majority of CIAs worldwide agree the designation benefits career advancement.

Internal Auditor Jobs

Internal auditors review company records and financial documents to find and report compliance issues, fraud, risk, and data issues. They investigate irregularities and present their findings to the company. Internal auditors must have strong knowledge of laws, industry regulations, standard audit practice, and internal company policies. 

Some roles and their salaries are outlined below. All salary figures come from PayScale: 

Entry-Level Internal Auditors

Early in your career, you must have the basic skills to review an organization’s processes, operations and goals, and provide clear summary reports of your findings. Most positions are tailored toward recent college graduates with bachelor’s degrees in accounting, finance, business administration or computer information systems.

  • Potential Jobs: Auditor, Auditing Specialist, Risk Assessment Specialist, Financial Analyst, Internal Controls Auditor, Information Systems Auditor
  • Salary Potential: $65,279 to $94,659

Lead Internal Auditors

With roughly five years of internal audit experience, you should now demonstrate an understanding of the organization as well as industry best practices. You’ll often be asked to work with management to monitor internal controls, mitigate risks posed to the organization and provide feedback about audit plans.

  • Potential Jobs: Senior Internal Auditor, Lead Internal Auditor
  • Salary Potential: $88,565 to $120,399

Internal Audit Supervisors

With more experience—often with eight years minimum in the industry—comes more oversight and management of the auditors on staff. You’ll assist in the planning, testing and executing of internal audit activities, and examine and monitor the company’s system of internal controls.

  • Potential Jobs: Audit Supervisor, Audit Manager, Risk Manager, Project Manager, Internal Audit Director
  • Salary Potential: $133,668 to $234,920

Internal Audit Executives

After a decade or more of experience, you may be overseeing the internal audit department as well as participating in management and execution of audit plans, and lead and direct the audit team. A successful track record as an effective manager is required.

  • Potential Jobs: Finance Director/VP, Chief Financial Officer, Controller
  • Salary Potential: $147,434 to $264,250


Earning the CIA credential through the IIA represents a challenging yet rewarding achievement. The skills gained make CIAs uniquely valuable assets ready to drive operational success, mitigate risk, prevent fraud, and emphasize integrity at organizations across industries and specialties. CIAs bring their competencies to education, government, healthcare, and other fields. Whether you want to enhance the value you bring to your current position or expand your career potential, the CIA certification will help you advance your career in internal auditing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Part 1 of the CIA exam focuses on the foundational knowledge associated with internal auditing, including independence and objectivity, proficiency and due professional care, quality assurance and improvement programs, governance, risk management and control, and fraud.

Part 2 dives into the actual practice of internal auditing, like planning and performing the engagement before delivering results to an organization. Finally, Part 3 deals with essential business knowledge in auditing, like IT, financial management, and more.

Most people who pursue the CIA certification hold bachelor’s degrees. This means, to account for all the steps to become a Certified Internal Auditor, we must note: 

  • Four years to earn your bachelor’s degree
  • Two years of required internal auditing work experience
  • 18 months to two years to pass all three exams 

From end to end, depending on where you are in your career, it could take six to eight years to become fully certified by the IIA.

CIA exams are offered year-round at Pearson VUE testing centers around the world. There are no exam windows, so you can take the exam whenever works best for you—provided the testing center nearest to you has openings. You can take Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 in any order, but you must pass all three parts to become fully certified.
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