If you want to experience the benefits of becoming a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), you must learn how to become a CIA. And, part of this process will involve applying for the CIA program and registering to take the CIA exam, which is one of the CIA requirements. Thankfully, the CIA program application and exam registration processes are very straightforward, as you can go online to complete them. So, if you’re ready to start the CIA journey, then use this information to apply for the CIA program and eventually register for the CIA exam.
In the Candidate Handbook, the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) outlines the steps necessary for entering the CIA program and taking the CIA exam. These steps are:
As you can see, taking the first 3 steps gets you into the CIA program. And, taking the last 3 steps lets you sit for the CIA exam. So, we will address these steps according to these functions.
Now, I know you’re probably ready to get this process going. But if you want to start studying, you must do one very important thing before you apply for the exam: get a CIA review course. You don’t want to go through every step of CIA application and registration just to experience a CIA exam fail. So, you need to invest in a CIA review course.
A CIA review course is essential to exam success because it explains all of the CIA exam content to you. It also gives you the opportunities you need to develop your internal auditing knowledge and skills. Finally, a CIA review course lets you access a study support system. Therefore, I believe the CIA exam difficulty level is high enough that every candidate needs a CIA review course.
Furthermore, you need to get the right CIA review course for you. If your course doesn’t address your learning style, help you improve your weaknesses, give you enough study materials, or last as long as you need it to, then it can’t help you pass. So, to ensure your course is everything you need it to be, you should learn all about the most popular CIA exam review courses on the market. Then, when you’re ready to buy, you should use these CIA discounts to save money on the study materials you need.
Again, the CIA application process is convenient because you use the internet to complete it. The IIA has created the Certification Candidate Management System (CCMS) for the purpose of making the CIA application process smooth and simple. The IIA describes the CCMS as a “user-friendly system to help you apply for, register, and maintain your certification and related information while keeping you connected and informed about the IIA’s certification programs.” Consequently, you will use the CCMS to complete all the CIA application procedures, which begin with creating your CCMS profile.
To take the plunge into the CIA program, you must access CCMS. Then, you need to click the “First Time Users” link on the right side of the page.
This link will lead you to the Candidate ID agreement, which you must read and agree to by clicking “I agree to these terms and want to create a profile” near the bottom of the page.
You’ll then find yourself on the IIA Member/Customer Account Information page. If you are already a member or customer of the IIA, you can enter your username, password, and email address to move on with your CCMS profile. However, if you aren’t an IIA member, then you can sign up for a CCMS profile without paying for membership. You’ll just need to take one more step to continue with your CCMS profile creation.
Clicking the “Create a profile without knowing IIA Member/Customer username and password” link will take you to a page titled “Personal Information” with the subtitle of “New Candidate Record”. Here, you will insert all of the personal information the IIA requests of you.
You’ll also need to answer a few questions about your internal auditor status, your certificate preferences, and your chapter/institute status. In the CCMS Candidate User Guide, the IIA explains that they do not allow third parties to create records or administer certification activities on behalf of a candidate. So, you must administer your own CCMS account.
Once you submit all of this information for your CCMS profile, the IIA will send you a Candidate ID number and information about how to activate your account. When you go through this process, you’ll need to re-authenticate your demographic information at this time.
But, you’ll know you’ve done it right when you get to the CCMS Landing Page, which will be your home screen for the system. This page will present some of your demographical and certification program status information. Occasionally, you might also see important messages or alerts from the IIA at the bottom of this page.
You can see an example of this page and learn how to use the CCMS in the CCMS Candidate User Guide. If you have any trouble with this process, you can contact the IIA Customer Relations at CustomerRelations@theiia.org or +1-407-937-1111.
Once you log in to the CCMS after creating your profile, you can apply to the CIA certification program (or any other IIA certification program) by clicking “Complete a Form” in the bottom left corner of the page. You then need to click on the form you want in the New Forms tab.
You can only see forms for which you are authorized based on your certification status. So, for example, you won’t see the exam registration forms until you have finished the CIA program application. Furthermore, you won’t see the Certificate Order form until you hold a certified status.
Therefore, your CIA form options at the beginning of the program application process would be “CIA Application” or “CIA Application – Student/Professor.”
Once you select the appropriate form, you’ll see that filling it out involves inserting information about your education, work experience, IIA membership status, possession of any other certifications, and criminal history (if applicable). Thankfully, the form is not too complicated.
Next, after you submit the form, the payment page will load. So, of course, at this point, you will need to pay the CIA application fee, unless you believe that the price you see for the CIA application is incorrect. In this case, you shouldn’t submit the application form. Instead, the IIA instructs you to log an incident through CCMS and then wait for a certification administrator to contact you.
You can pay the application fee either by credit card, check, or wire transfer. If you choose to pay by check or wire transfer, you must provide some additional information and follow the on-screen instructions to submit your payment. Check or wire transfer payments can take several weeks to process, so paying via credit card is definitely the fastest and therefore most recommended way.
But no matter how you pay, the only invoice you’ll receive will be the on-screen payment acknowledgment. So, you can print or save that page as a PDF for your records.
Once you’ve paid the fee, the IIA will email you to confirm that your application has been approved.
The confirmation email you receive from the IIA will also provide instructions for submitting the supporting documentation your application needs. In order to move on with your entrance into the CIA program, you will need to submit the following documents at this time:
The IIA lists the following as acceptable and unacceptable forms of identification:
Acceptable Forms of ID
|Unacceptable Forms of ID|
Government-issued driver’s license
|Employee ID or work badge|
University or college ID
|Alien Registration Card (green card, permanent resident visa, etc.)||
Selfie or photo ID without a name
|Government-issued local language ID (plastic card with photo and signature, accepted only if issued from the country in which the candidate is testing)||
Expired photo ID
The IIA accepts the following documents as proof of education:
The IIA does provisionally approve students in their final year of college into the certification program of their choice so long as the student provides evidence (e.g., transcripts) of their education status. But the IIA won’t officially award the certification to you until you’ve completed the education requirement and submitted the supporting documentation such as your diploma.
The IIA measures your character according to its Code of Ethics. So, to prove that you are upholding the code, you must complete and sign the 1-page CIA Character Reference form. You must also have your professor, supervisor, or a CIA, CGAP, CCSA, CFSA, or CRMA sign this form as well.
After you pass the CIA exam but before you can receive the CIA certification, you will also need to submit the experience verification form and any other supporting documentation to prove that you’ve met the experience requirement. You must submit proof of your experience within 3 years of the date you received approval into the CIA program.
If you submit a document in a language other than English, then you must also submit an English translation of that document.
To upload the documentation the IIA wants for your initial CIA program application, you must use the Document Upload Portal (DUP) on the IIA’s website. Using the DUP requires you to insert your Customer Number or Candidate ID number. Also, you can learn more about the DUP in the Certification Candidate Handbook and the CCMS Candidate User Guide.
The IIA developed the DUP in order to streamline the document submission process, create a secure transmission method, and reduce response and processing times. Therefore, you should be able to upload all of your documents with ease.
And, you should do so ASAP because you only have 90 days after submitting your application to receive the IIA’s approval of your required documents. This 90-day period includes the amount of time it takes you to upload the documents, and the IIA doesn’t specify how quickly they will approve your documentation.
For these reasons, you should compile all of these documents before you submit your CIA application. To do so, you must contact your college or university and the person who will be signing your character reference form well in advance.
If the IIA doesn’t approve one or more of your documents before the 90-day period ends, then the IIA will deny your application. At this point, you’ll have to start the application process over again, which means you’ll also have to pay the full application fee again.
Now that you’ve applied to the CIA program, you can move on to the process of registering for the CIA exam.
Once you have registered for part(s) of the CIA exam, you have 180 days to schedule your testing appointment and take the exam. So, after you’ve gone through the entire CIA registration process, your eligibility window is 180 days or until your CIA program expiration date, whichever comes first. For this reason, the IIA recommends that you finish your exam preparations before registering for the exam. And I generally agree with this as well.
For most candidates, waiting to register until you’ve finished studying is the best plan. However, if you only register for 1 exam part and you choose an exam date closer to the end of the 180-day period, you may be able to fit the entirety of your exam studies into this time. I say this because of the number of CIA exam study hours I recommend for each part, which you can see in this table:
|Minimum # of Study Hours||Safe # of Study Hours||# of Study Weeks for 10 hours/week|
|30-40 hours||55-65 hours||3-6.5 weeks|
|30-40 hours||60-70 hours||3-7 weeks|
|40-50 hours||85-95 hours||
As you can see, the longest amount of time you will need to prepare for one exam part is a little less than 10 weeks. Consequently, this study period still fits quite comfortably within your eligibility period, which is almost 26 weeks long.
Therefore, if you don’t anticipate any major life events interrupting you for an extended amount of time, you could pursue the option of not starting your CIA exam studies until after you’ve registered for part of the exam.
But no matter when you begin your studies, you must take these steps to complete the CIA exam registration process.
To take this step, you must once again log in to CCMS. Then, you need to click the “Complete a Form” link again, which is still in the bottom left corner of the page. Because you’ve already applied to the CIA program, you will now be able to see forms for each CIA exam part under the New Forms tab. So, you must select the exam part you want to register for. You can only register for one exam part at a time, but you can register for another exam part immediately after you finish registering for one exam part if you would like.
After you’ve selected your exam part, you must agree to the Pricing Provisions and Conditions statement. Agreeing to this policy lets you submit the exam part form and move on to the payment screen.
At the payment screen, you must pay the examination fee for your selected exam part. Again, if you believe the price you see is incorrect, you should refrain from submitting the form and should instead contact the IIA’s Customer Relations team at CustomerRelations@theiia.org or +1-407-937-1111.
Once you accept the price of the exam fee and submit the form, you can’t receive an exam fee refund or credit. You also can’t remove a registration form or transfer the fee you paid from one registration form to another.
You still have the option of paying with a credit card, check, or wire transfer, and paying with a credit card is still the fastest method.
After the IIA has received and processed your exam registration, they will approve your registration and send you an authorization to test email. This email will tell you how and when to schedule your exam through Pearson VUE. Pearson VUE is the third-party vendor who administers the CIA exam on behalf of the IIA.
If you will require modification to the test administration conditions due to a physical or medical condition, you should contact the IIA’s Global Certification Department after you’ve submitted your exam registration and before you schedule your appointment with Pearson VUE. When you email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +1-407-937-1277, the IIA will assist you in obtaining the appropriate accommodations. Depending on the nature of the accommodations you need, your request may take 30 days or more to fulfill.
You’re getting closer to the end of the CIA exam registration process. But, before you can move forward, you actually have to wait. Specifically, you must wait 48 hours after you receive your authorization to test email to contact Pearson VUE about scheduling your exam appointment.
After that, you can communicate with Pearson VUE to schedule your exam via their website or phone number. You can only take this step once you have received your authorization to test email, not at any point before.
But you should schedule as soon as you can after the 48-hour period is over, because the earlier you schedule, the better chance you have of getting the ideal date, time, and location for your testing appointment. Pearson VUE does not accept walk-ins; you have to schedule your appointment ahead of time. And remember, you must schedule your appointment within 180 days, or you will invalidate your registration.
Pearson VUE has over 900 locations around the world that offer CIA exam testing appointments, and the schedules of these test centers vary. They also change often. But generally, they are open 5-6 days a week throughout the year during normal business hours.
Most likely, using the Pearson VUE website will be the easiest way for you to schedule your exam appointment, as you can do so any time of day or night. The first time you use Pearson VUE’s website, you will need to create an account. And you’ll need to do so using the same email address that you use for your CCMS profile.
In the event that you do prefer to schedule via phone, you will still have to go online to Pearson VUE’s customer service webpage to get the toll-free customer service phone number for your location. You can find all of the Pearson VUE locations on their website and select the one you want to call. Don’t call a specific testing center to schedule or cancel an exam; you can only complete this process with the help of a Pearson VUE customer service representative.
You will need to provide the customer service representative with your IIA candidate ID number and your preferred date and time. Furthermore, you may even need to provide your second and third date and time choices. So, have these in mind before you call. The customer service representative will guide you through the scheduling process.
No matter how you schedule your exam, Pearson VUE will send you a confirmation email after you’ve completed this step. This email will contain information about the test center location you selected. You must review this information immediately to verify that details such as your first and last name and the date and time of your appointment are correct.
Also, the IIA recommends you print this confirmation and bring it with you to the testing center on your exam day. The test administrator may need to use the important information in the email to locate your record and permit you to take the exam.
If you don’t receive the Pearson VUE email confirmation shortly, you should contact their customer service immediately. Some error may have prevented your appointment from being recorded properly.
If you need to make changes to your testing appointment, such as to cancel or reschedule, you can do so up to 48 hours before your appointment time. You must contact Pearson VUE to do so. And, you also must pay a fee of $75 each time you reschedule or cancel.
Pearson VUE will send you another email to confirm the appointment changes you have made. And again, if you don’t receive an email, contact Pearson VUE immediately to make sure they have a record of the changes.
When your exam day comes, you must show up with appropriate ID. If you don’t appear for your exam at your scheduled location on your scheduled date and time, the IIA will void your registration. They’ll also assign you a “No-Show” status and force you to forfeit your exam registration fee. Receiving a “No-Show” status means that you must submit a new exam registration form with another payment in order to schedule another test date.
You may also receive a “No-Show” status if you don’t get to your test center location 30 minutes before your testing appointment time. The testing center may deny you access if you show up less than 30 minutes before your appointment. So, plan to arrive at least half an hour ahead of time. You will definitely be considered a “No-Show” if you arrive after your scheduled appointment time. And, you won’t be able to take your exam.
When you get to the testing center, you must present a government-issued photo ID. The name on this ID must be exactly the same as what you provided during your CIA exam registration. If you don’t have acceptable ID with you at your scheduled appointment time, you will also be classified as a “No-Show.” And with this status, you won’t be able to sit for your exam even though you came to the testing center.
If you arrive at the testing center on time and avoid being a “No-Show”, then the test center administrator will show you where to put your personal items. You can’t take things like purses, wallets, cell phones, watches, jewelry, etc. into the testing room. Nor can you bring food or drink or even a personal calculator.
The only thing Pearson VUE permits is a nonelectronic language translation dictionary that does not contain term definitions (only direct translations), anything written or highlighted within, or any notes or documents inserted inside of the book. The administrator will check to make sure any dictionary you bring meets these criteria. And, if it doesn’t, the administrator won’t let you take it with you. You will receive a secure storage area for all of your stuff.
The testing center will allow you to use these tools during your exam:
You must return these items to the administrator before you leave the testing center.
You will receive a copy of Pearson VUE’s candidate rules agreement. This agreement covers provisions such as having your glasses inspected and your palms scanned. It also includes other steps that Pearson VUE uses to protect the integrity of the CIA exam. To proceed with your testing appointment, you must accept these terms.
Additionally, you must sign the test center log before you start your test. But, you won’t have to make any additional payments. If the testing center asks you to pay any additional fees, contact Pearson VUE customer service at www.pearsonvue.com/iia/contact or +1-952-681-3756.
After you’ve checked off every check-in procedure, the exam administrator will take you to your workstation. You must stay there for the rest of your time at Pearson VUE. That is, unless you receive authorization to leave the room. At your exam station, the administrator will log you into your exam. Then, they will ask you to confirm that the exam you see is the one you’ve planned to take.
Working through these screens does not count toward your exam time. But, you do have a time limit for getting through them. And, if you exceed the time limit, the exam will begin automatically.
On your computer screen, you’ll see a timer that counts down how much time is left in the exam. As you may recall, you’ll have 150 minutes of total testing time for Part 1. Conversely, you’ll receive 120 minutes for Parts 2 and 3. And the IIA doesn’t penalize you for incorrect responses. Therefore, you must employ a time management strategy to answer every question in time.
The exam time does not include a scheduled break. Therefore, you also must practice time management in case you want to take a break. You may take a break if you wish, but doing so will eat into your total testing time. And when you leave and re-enter the room for any reason, you must sign the test log and show ID. And, you may even need to provide a fingerprint or palm vein image.
If you experience a computer problem while testing, you should immediately report it to the exam administrator. You should also ask the proctor to log the incident. Don’t ask the test center employees about the exam content or exam scores during such as incident. These individuals can’t help you with these matters. Additionally, you can log an incident in your CCMS profile for any exam experience concerns you have.
Finally, you should know that the test center employees are on alert for unusual behavior and incidents during exams. They also have audio and video recordings of exam sessions. Therefore, you should take your conduct during the exam as seriously as the IIA and Pearson VUE do. That way, you won’t cause any issues.
When you’re ready to receive additional guidance for the CIA application process and the CIA exam registration process, you’ll find it in my free CIA e-course. This course walks you through the process of earning the CIA certification, so learn more today or sign up here!
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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.