Before you can become a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), you must meet several CIA requirements. However, you must also satisfy a few requirements after you receive the CIA certification in order to maintain it. Specifically, you have to fulfill the Institute of Internal Auditor’s (IIA) continuing professional education (CPE) requirements. You must continue to address the CIA CPE requirements for as long as you want your certification to remain active. Therefore, you should learn more about the CIA CPE requirements now so you can always uphold your CIA status.
The Purpose of the Certified Internal Auditor CPE Requirements
“As the business environment changes and new risks emerge, the knowledge and skills internal auditors need to possess to provide professional assurance and consulting services for their organizations continually evolves. The IIA’s International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing recognize this and require internal auditors to seek continuing professional development.” — Certification Candidate Handbook
This statement from the IIA demonstrates that, as with other professional certifications, the upkeep of the CIA involves continuing education. Consequently, the IIA has 2 main reasons for mandating that CIAs meet CPE requirements in order to stay in good standing:
- To maintain knowledge and skills in the relevant subject areas
- To update knowledge and skills to reflect any improvements and developments that have been made to the internal auditing standards, procedures, and techniques
Internal auditing policies change from time to time. So, the IIA has established the CIA CPE requirements in order to ensure that all CIAs remain fully informed of developments in the profession. Furthermore, by meeting the CIA CPE requirements, CIAs are always capable of adhering to the latest internal audit standards and codes. Therefore, CIAs need CPE to help them continue to do their jobs accurately and efficiently.
The Specifications of the CIA CPE Requirements
To stay a CIA, you must earn and report CPE credit hours by December 31 every year. And, the number of CPE credits you must earn and report depends on whether you are a practicing, non-practicing, or retired CIA. The IIA applies these definitions to these terms:
- Practicing: actively performing internal audit or related activities
- Non-practicing: not actively performing internal audit or related activities
- Retired: no longer in the workforce
So, if you are a practicing or non-practicing CIA, you must do the following in order to keep your certification active:
- Annually earn and report your completion of the CPE credit hours required for your CIA status
- Obtain and attest to at least 2 hours of ethics training annually
- Verify that you conform with the Standards
- Follow and prove your conformance to The IIA’s Code of Ethics
However, retired CIAs do not have to meet the CPE requirements as long as they remain retired. When you go into retirement, you must communicate your new situation to the IIA by submitting a status change form through the Certification Candidate Management System (CCMS).
The Number of CIA CPE Hours
In the year that you become a CIA, the IIA will award you 40 credit hours. Then, the following year, the IIA will give you another 40 credit hours for a total of 80 credit hours in 2 years. So, according to the IIA, passing the CIA exam is worth 80 CPE credit hours, which gets you through 2 years of CIA CPE requirements. But in your third year as a CIA, you must start acquiring CPE credit hours on your own.
The number of CIA CPE credit hours you must obtain in a year (again, by December 31) are as follows:
CIA CPE Requirements
Actively performing internal audit or related activities
Not actively performing internal audit or related activities
If you decide to change your status from practicing to non-practicing at some point, then you must alert the IIA by changing your certification status in your CCMS profile. However, as you can see in the table, you still need to complete 20 hours of CPE each year.
Furthermore, if you hold multiple IIA certifications, then you can apply the CPE hours you earn for the CCSA, CGAP, CFSA, CRMA, or QIAL toward your CIA CPE requirements as well.
CIA Ethics Requirement for CPE
As mentioned, 2 of the CPE credit hours you earn annually must focus on the subject of ethics. And the IIA doesn’t dictate where you have to get your ethics training, only that you have to get it within the reporting period every year.
Qualifying Internal Audit CPE Activities
As mentioned, the IIA has very high standards for those in the internal audit profession. Therefore, you cannot use just any professional activity to fulfill the CIA CPE requirements. Instead, you must complete activities that the IIA has pre-approved. The IIA specifies that a variety of activities qualify as CIA CPE, but educational programs are among the most popular.
Educational Programs for CIA CPE
Many certified individuals use educational programs to get most or all of their CPE credits. For this reason, the Professional Certifications Board (PCB) has established certain guidelines for qualifying educational programs. Therefore, before you complete a program with the intention of earning CPE credits, you must make sure the program meets these guidelines.
According to the IIA’s CPE policy, a CPE program must meet the following criteria in order for the PCB to approve it:
- Be a formal program of learning that contributes directly to the professional competence of the certified individual.
- Clearly state program objectives, which specify the level of knowledge the participants should have attained or the level of competence to be demonstrated upon completion of the program.
- Clearly state education or experience prerequisites, if appropriate for the program.
- Be developed by individuals who are qualified in the subject matter and instructional design.
- Provide current program content.
- Provide evidence of program completion or participation and the appropriate number of CPE hours earned (e.g., a certificate of completion).
Types of CPE CIA Educational Programs
Based on these criteria, the PCB currently recognizes the following programs as acceptable for earning CPE credits:
- Formal in-house training sessions or programs that meet the criteria above
- Seminars and conferences put on by national, state, or local auditing and accounting organizations
- Technical sessions at meetings of national/federal, state, or local auditing or accounting organizations and chapters
- Relevant industry-specific educational programs provided by other professional organizations or societies
- College or university courses passed (credit and noncredit courses), excluding courses that a candidate must take to meet the examination requirement for a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent
- Formal correspondence and self-study programs relevant to internal auditing that meet program criteria, including evidence of completion
Other CIA CPE Qualifying Activities
As mentioned above, education programs are the most common methods of earning CPE credits. But the IIA allows you to satisfy the Certified Internal Auditor requirements with other activities as well. Some additional qualifying activities include:
Performing external quality assessments
- Independent (external) validation of an internal audit activity’s self-assessment, as defined by the IPPF: 5 CPE credits
- 1-week external quality assessment: 10 CPE credits
- 2-week external quality assessment: 20 CPE credits
- Maximum total: 20 CPE credits
Passing IIA and non-IIA examinations
- Earning an IIA certification/qualification and receiving CPE hours awarded in that same year: 40 CPE credits
- Receiving CPE hours awarded the year after earning an IIA certification/qualification: 40 CPE credits
- Passing each part of a non-IIA accounting or auditing exam (e.g., CPA or CA) and receiving CPE hours: 10 CPE credits
- Maximum CPE hours awarded in the year that you passed the exam: 40 CPE credits
Contributing to or authoring publications pertaining to the industry
- Contributing to or authoring books (1 CPE hour per 200 words): 25 CPE credits
- Authoring or contributing to research papers, articles, or blogs (1 CPE hour per 200 words): 15 CPE credits
- Writing IIA certification exam questions (1 CPE hour per accepted exam question): 20 CPE credits
- Authoring a QIAL case study (10 CPE hours per accepted QIAL case study): 20 CPE credits
- Maximum total: 25 CPE credits
Giving oral presentations in the industry
- Original presentations (CPE is calculated based on presentation time plus preparation time): 25 CPE credits
- Subsequent presentations of the same material (CPE is calculated based on presentation time only): 5 CPE credits
- Maximum total: 25 CPE credits
Participating as an expert volunteer in the industry
- Serving as a volunteer officer or committee member with the IIA or another professional industry organization related to internal auditing (1 CPE hour for each 50 minutes of qualifying participation): 15 CPE credits
- IIA global guidance contributor (5 CPE hours per IPPF Supplemental Guidance): 10 CPE credits
- Exam content translation quality review (1 CPE hour per 50-minute period of work): 20 CPE credits
- QIAL volunteer:
- Portfolio of professional experience (PPE) assessor (½ CPE hour per PPE unit): 20 CPE credits
- Case study grader (½ CPE hour per case study): 20 CPE credits
- QIAL panel assessor (1 CPE hour per presentation + 1 CPE per interview): 20 CPE credits
- Maximum total: 20 CPE credits
Translation publications in the industry
- Translating books (1 CPE hour per 200 words): 25 CPE credits
- Translating IIA Supplemental Guidance (e.g., Practice Guides, GTAGs, etc.), research papers, articles, or blogs (1 CPE hour per 200 words): 15 CPE credits
- Maximum total: 25 CPE credits
You can complete these additional qualifying activities alongside your formal educational programs to reach your required CPE totals. If you would like to receive CPE credit for any other activities, you must be able to
- evidence the activity,
- calculate an appropriate number of CPE hours, and
- demonstrate that it contributes to professional competence.
You are responsible to demonstrate that a particular activity qualifies as acceptable and meets the PCB’s requirements.
CIA Continuing Education Hours Measurements
If you need to determine how many CPE hours you can earn from your participation in a CPE program, you can do so by following the IIA’s formula that says 1 50-minute period equals 1 CPE hour. If the program was fewer than 50 minutes long, then you can report your CPE in 10- or 25-minute increments. You can also add CPE activity segments that are less than 50 minutes together to accumulate CPE credit for 1 total program. So, if you have 5 10-minute training course segments, you can combine them for a total of 50-minutes or 1 CPE hour.
Subject Areas of CIA CPE Courses
When selecting CPE programs to help you meet the IIA CPE requirements, you should seek activities with curricula that cover the CIA exam topics. Generally, if the CPE program you’re considering addresses subject areas in the current CIA exam syllabus, then that CPE program is acceptable.
CIA Exam Syllabus
1: Essentials of Internal Auditing
|2: Practice of Internal Auditing
3: Business Knowledge for Internal Auditing
I. Foundations of Internal Auditing (15%)
|I. Managing the Internal Audit Activity (20%)
I. Business Acumen (35%)
II. Independence and Objectivity (15%)
|II. Planning the Engagement (20%)
||II. Informational Security (25%)
III. Proficiency and Due Professional Care (18%)
|III. Performing the Engagement (40%)
III. Information Technology (20%)
|IV. Quality Assurance and Improvement Program (7%)
||IV. Communicating Engagement Results and Monitoring Progress (20%)
IV. Financial Management (20%)
V. Governance, Risk Management, and Control (35%)
VI. Fraud Risks (10%)
The Process of Reporting CIA CPE
After you become a CIA, the IIA will remind you each year of your obligation to earn CIA CPE. Then, before December 31 of that year, you are responsible to submit a CPE reporting form. This form is a signed statement that you met all of the CPE requirements for that year.
You must fill out a separate CPE reporting form for each IIA certification that you hold. However, at this time, you don’t have to include supporting documentation of your CPE credits, such as certificates of training completion that you use to calculate the number of CPE hours you’ve earned.
Because you are responsible to submit your own CPE information, you are also responsible to ensure that your CPE credits adhere to the IIA’s established CPE guidelines and that your report your credits appropriately.
If you live in North America and many other countries, you can submit your CPE information directly through CCMS. Additionally, North American IIA members do not have to pay a fee for reporting their CPE hours, as free CPE reporting is a benefit of IIA membership. But non-members do have to pay a fee.
IIA Affiliate Countries
On the other hand, if you are a member of certain IIA affiliates, then you must report your CPE directly to your affiliate. The countries that are IIA affiliates include:
- Chinese Taiwan
- Czech Republic
What’s more, your IIA affiliate may charge a fee for reporting CPE, so you must check with them to learn more about their CIA CPE reporting process. Currently, the CIA CPE reporting fee is $30 for an IIA member and $120 for a non-member.
If you successfully met the IIA CIA CPE requirements upon submitting your CPE form through the CCMS, then the IIA will send you an acknowledgment of compliance.
CIA CPE Records
Again, you don’t have to provide the IIA with supporting documentation of your CPE credits when you present your CPE reporting form. However, in the event that the IIA or its designee audits your CPE records (which the IIA does annually), you do need to keep copies of all supporting documentation as well as the CPE reporting forms you submitted for at least 3 years. The records of your CPE credits must contain the following information:
- Title of CPE courses or the description of content covered
- All the dates you attended online or in-person courses and workshops
- The location of your course or program
- The name of any sponsoring organizations, if applicable
- Contact hours of credit as recommended by your course sponsor
- Verification of completion via certificate, letter, or other written methods
- Any supporting publications, presentations, or participation you may have
IIA CPE Audit
As mentioned, you must keep all of this information on hand because the IIA or its designee conducts annual audits of CPE reporting records. So, if the IIA selects you, you must give them documented evidence of the CPE credits you’ve earned. If you can’t provide this information by the deadline, the IIA will demote your CIA status, and you can no longer claim to be certified.
If you can give the IIA proof of your CPE credits but the IIA finds that you haven’t earned enough CPE for the amount of time you’ve been a CIA, then the IIA will give you 6 months to correct the issue. During this time, you must earn the missing amount of CPE and submit documentation of the hours you earned to the IIA Global.
Finally, the IIA will report any CIA found to have falsified documentation or acted unethically to the Professional Responsibility and Ethics Committee for further investigation.
Failure to Comply with CIA CPE Reporting
If you haven’t earned enough CPE in the calendar year, then you shouldn’t submit a CPE report, as that would be lying. Instead, you should only complete the CPE reporting form once you have earned enough CPE credit hours.
Consequently, if you can’t submit the CPE reporting form before December 31, then the IIA will change your CIA status from certified to inactive (grace period).
Inactive (Grace Period) Status
You will learn from your CCMS account or your local affiliate if the IIA has changed your status to inactive (grace period). If the IIA has done so, then you can no longer claim to be certified.
To incentivize the IIA to change your status back to certified, you must complete the prior year’s CPE reporting form. If you didn’t earn enough CPE during that year, you can use hours from the following calendar year to make up the deficiency. But then, once you use CPE hours to move your status back to certified, you can’t reuse those hours toward the current year’s reporting requirements.
If you stay in an inactive (grace period) status for more than 12 months, then the IIA will automatically transition your status to inactive.
Again, the IIA will notify you through CCMS or your local affiliate if they have changed your status to inactive. And again, if your status is inactive, you can’t hold yourself out as a CIA. To transition your status back to certified, you must fulfill the CPE requirements for one reporting period, complete a CIA reinstatement reporting form, and pay the reinstatement fee. The reinstatement fee is currently $100 for IIA members and $250 for non-members. Finally, you also can’t use CPE hours utilized for reinstatement toward the current year’s reporting requirements.
Conclusions About CIA Continuing Education Requirements
As you can see, if you commit to earning the CIA certification, you also must commit to earning CIA CPE. If you don’t meet the CIA continuing education requirements, you can’t retain the CIA certification. And keeping up with your CIA CPE not only allows you to maintain your CIA status, but it also helps you do your internal auditing job better. You can also deepen or expand your internal auditing expertise. Finally, the IIA supplies CIAs with many options for CIA CPE activities, so you should be able to find programs that work with your schedule and interests.
But of course, you don’t need to accumulate CIA CPE until you’ve actually acquired the CIA certification. So, if you’re ready to do so, you need to invest in a CIA review course so you can pass the CIA exam the first time. You can read my comparison of the best CIA courses on the market to find your preferred exam prep. Or, you can contact me to receive a personalized recommendation. Then, you can use my CIA review discounts to save big on the best course for you.
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