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.
“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:
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.
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:
So, if you are a practicing or non-practicing CIA, you must do the following in order to keep your certification active:
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).
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
Based on these criteria, the PCB currently recognizes the following programs as acceptable for earning CPE credits:
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:
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
You are responsible to demonstrate that a particular activity qualifies as acceptable and meets the PCB’s requirements.
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.
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.
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%)
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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).
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.
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.
And, to get even more information on the CIA certification process and passing the CIA exam the first time, you can take my free CIA e-course. Learn more or sign up below!
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.