Certified Internal Auditor Salary Guide: How Much is the Premium?


The internal audit salary is on an upward trend given the increasing importance of internal audit within companies, and shortage of talents especially at the senior level.

How Much is the Certified Internal Auditor Salary Premium?

Before we get into details, I should point out that CIA certification definitely adds value to your career. You gain more respect, and higher salary. According to the latest IIA survey report, the 471 respondents had an average salary of $93,000, versus $65,000 for those without certifications.

Certified Internal Auditor salary has a whooping 43% premium to that of non-certification holders..

There could be other factors such as the number of experience among respondents, together with their education level, and type of companies they work for. But this is something to keep in mind if you are looking for ways to enhance your career.

Overview of Internal Audit Salary in the USA

Looking at the big picture, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 11% increase of employment in the accounting and audit industry, from 2014 to 2024. This is much higher than the overall projection of 7% across occupation.

Within the accounting and audit industry, IA is not a particularly glamorous job but is certainly hot in terms of staffing needs. The salary across seniority in internal audit increased by 5% from 2015 to 2016. The jump from junior to senior positions is also significant, as shown below.

The following charts and data is sourced from the 2016 Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance from Robert Half.

Career Growth in Large Companies

By large companies, it includes those with annual revenue of more than $250 million:

certified internal auditor salary in large companies

Growth in Medium Companies

For medium companies, it is defined as those with $25 to $250 million in revenue:


Entry Level Internal Auditor Salary

internal-auditor-first-year-salary You can expect an annual salary range of $52,000 to 66,000 for a first year IA professional in a medium-sized company, and $55,000 to $67,000 in a large company.

The premium of working in a large company, on average, is about 4%.

Junior Internal Auditor Salary

junior internal auditor salary trendThese auditors have 1-3 years of experience in this field. Annual salary ranges from $60,000 to $82,000 in medium-sized companies, and $65,000 to $87,000 in large companies. The premium is 7%.

As you move from first-year to those with a few years of experience, salary increases by 15-25%.

Senior Internal Auditor Salary

senior internal auditor salary trendYou can expect a salary ranging from $78,000 to $98,000 in medium companies, and $84,000 to $111,000 in large companies.

Here you will see a bigger premium in working at large companies (it is 11% in this category), because large companies have more complex situations to take care of, and need a higher salary to attract talents.

Jumping from junior to senior IA, the increase in salary is more significant at 20% to 29%.

Internal Audit Manager Salary

internal audit manager salary trendManagers are getting $92,000 to $127,000 in medium-sized companies, and $105,000 to $151,000 in big companies. The premium of working in big companies is even higher here at 17%.

A promotion from senior to manager leads to 18-29% increase in salary.

Internal Audit Director Salary

internal audit director salary trendThe bosses include CAE (Chief Audit Executive), vice president and director of Internal Audit. On average, they get:

  • $119,000 to $165,000 in companies with $100 – $250 million in revenue
  • $144,000 to $207,000 in companies with $250 – $500 million in revenue
  • $183,000 to $280,000 if one works in companies with more than $500 million in revenue

The data clearly shows that, the bigger the companies you work for, the higher the compensation.

Almost all of the $500m+ companies are publicly listed, and therefore, you can expect a much higher responsibility from the CAE. The salary premium is 24% when compared to the $200-$500m companies, and a significant 63% when compared to the $100-250m companies.

Cost of Living

The above statistics is based on the US average. If you live in big, expensive cities, you will need to adjust the numbers upwards, and vice versa if you work in small towns.

Here are the variance of the most expensive cities for your reference:

  • New York: 140%
  • San Francisco: 138%
  • Sam Jose: 135%
  • Boston: 133%
  • Washington DC: 133%

Simply multiply the percentage with the salary numbers above. For variance of other cities, please refer to p. 26-27 of Robert Half report (link at the bottom of this page).

My Thoughts

The salary level of internal audit professionals is very much in line with responsibility. At a lower level, with little experience and little responsibility, you can expect a range of $50,000-ish to high $60,000 depending on the size of the firm.

As you move up the career ladder, the salary range increases rather exponentially, given the much bigger responsibility as a supervisor and gate keeper.

The increase from senior to manager is notable: the skill set is changed from mostly technical, to a combination of hard and soft skills. As you move further up to director position, more sophisticated soft skills are required, and you will be rewarded handsomely.

To see what soft skills are required, check out the pros and cons of the internal audit profession.

For Your Further Reading

About the Author Stephanie

I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley) and the publisher of this and several accounting professional exam prep sites.

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  • Cordelia Thobejane says:

    Hi kindly assist with how to register for my CIA exam part 1 and how much is the cost.I have a National Diploma in Internal Auditing.

  • Annette says:

    There definitely is a difference in salaries between the US and Africa! Stats from South Africa indicate that (converted to USD at current exchange rate):

    Internal Auditors earn 10,500 to 33,200
    Senior Internal Auditors earn 16,000 to 48,000
    Internal Audit Managers earn 30,000 to 56,000
    CAE’s earn around 70,000

    These come from salaries submitted anonymously to Payscale by Internal Auditor employees in South Africa. However one also needs to consider that our standard of living is not as high as in the US.

    I cannot say how many CIA’s we are at the moment (last year June Namibia had 34 CIA’s). Currently there are about 200 IIA members in Namibia.

    Note: Africa and Namibia are very closely interlinked and the currency is 1:1, therefore if one cannot find stats about Namibia – South Africa is closest.

    • Stephanie says:

      Thanks for sharing Annette! Yes salary level varies greatly and it is better to check payscale and other local online resource for a more accurate picture for respective countries.

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