CIA UK: How to Become a Certified Internal Auditor UK

cia uk

As an auditor or accountant in the United Kingdom (UK) you have numerous options for advancing your career. For example, you can choose to pursue one of many accounting certifications. But if you are looking for the most prestigious and advantageous certification, you have just one choice: the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification. As a CIA UK, you will truly stand apart from other internal auditors. And thankfully, the process of earning the CIA is less complex than it is with other certifications. So, take the leap and prepare to make the most of your career by learning more about how you can become a Certified Internal Auditor in the UK.

Benefits of Becoming a CIA in the UK

As it stands, the CIA is the most well-known and esteemed international professional qualification for internal auditors. But better still, as an auditing professional in the UK, the CIA can provide you with both local and global benefits, such as:

Increased pay

Recently, organizations around the world have been rewarding CIAs with bigger paychecks. Specifically, the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) finds that CIAs make as much as 51% more than non-certified internal auditors in the U.S. Therefore, as a CIA in the UK, you can also expect to see a rise in your salary.

Diverse job opportunities

On a similar note, the CIA certification brings with it new job opportunities. So, with this designation, you’ll be better positioned to take on different roles including leadership roles. For example, you may find yourself securing the title of Chief Audit Executive, Vice President of Internal Audit, or Internal Audit Director. But you can also use the certification to jumpstart a career in a new field or industry such as transportation and logistics, healthcare, information security and tech development, biotechnology and healthcare research, and green energy.

Greater job security

The global regulatory environment is becoming increasingly more difficult to navigate. And, not surprisingly, organizations are anxious to find qualified internal auditors who understand the environment and its complexities. Specifically, they need professionals who can help them reduce risk by identifying IT data breaches, external and internal cases of fraud, and inefficient processes. So, in short, they need Certified Internal Auditors, and they are committed to finding and keeping these individuals. Therefore, as a CIA UK, you can be confident that your job is secure.

Advanced skills and abilities

Typically, internal auditors are responsible for streamlining and refining organizational operations. They bring value to their company by systematically and methodically evaluating and improving risk management, control, and governance processes. So, in the process of earning the CIA certification, you’ll have to demonstrate that you too can fulfill these responsibilities. How? By meeting specific education and experience requirements and by successfully passing a rigorous exam. Therefore, getting the CIA gives you the chance to naturally improve your internal auditing skills and abilities.

Greater respect and admiration

Historically, internal auditors focus on performing financial audits. But now, they largely concentrate on executing risk-based audits. And with this shift, internal auditors play an important role in protecting and advancing the value of an organization.

Consequently, this shift has also changed the way the industry views internal auditors. Today, the industry regards these professionals as change agents and business partners. And, that esteem only deepens when internal auditors carry the designation of Certified Internal Auditor. In this case, the industry recognizes that CIAs possess a wealth of unmatched knowledge in their field.

Certified Internal Auditor Salary in the UK

The Certified Internal Auditor salary in the UK reflects the true earnings potential that comes with earning the CIA. Specifically, PayScale reports that the average Certified Internal Auditor salary in the UK as £40,000. However, the range of this salary differs by location:

Certified Internal Auditor Salary in the UK

UK City CIA Salary Range (£)
London, England 28,601-70,031
Manchester, England 30,000-42,000
Bristol, England 39,850-52,903
Cardiff, Wales 34,268
Sheffield, England 46,452

In comparison, PayScale finds that the average salary of a regular internal auditor is £31,212 and the average salary of an auditor as £29,267. And without the CIA, even a senior internal auditor has an average salary cap of £38,661. Clearly, as a CIA in the UK, you gain significant financial benefits.

Certified Internal Auditor Jobs in the UK

Also, as a CIA in the UK, you can choose from a variety of quality jobs. With so many options available to you, the CIA certification definitely delivers on your career. Again, PayScale supports this point. The following chart shows that CIAs in the UK can hold the following positions and make these average salaries:

Certified Internal Auditor Jobs in the UK

CIA Job CIA Salary (£)
Internal Auditing Manager 56,895
Internal Auditor 31,212
Senior Internal Auditor 38,661
Compliance Manager 42,856
Internal Audit Director 85,957
Quality Assurance Manager 43,325

The companies in the UK that most CIAs report working for include PricewaterhouseCoopers, BT Group, Scott-Moncrieff, FWP, and TSYS Card Tech.

Certified Internal Auditor UK Requirements

Undoubtedly, as a CIA in the UK, your career and bank account will get a significant boost. So, how can you ensure you’re eligible for the CIA? Well, you must meet the CIA requirements.

Largely, CIA candidates in the UK must meet the same requirements as most other global candidates. However, the exact CIA UK requirements differ slightly. For example, the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors (Chartered IIA) requires UK CIA candidates to become chapter members before they can sit for the exam. But you should start the CIA process by learning about the global requirements for the UK CIA.

Character Reference

The IIA expects CIAs to adhere to a strict moral code. Therefore, you must verify that you will abide by this code by having a CIA, CGAP, CCSA, CFSA, CRMA, or supervisor sign a Character Reference form. You must then upload the form to the IIA’s Certification Document Upload Portal (CDUP).


Additionally, the IIA requires CIA candidates to hold an associate’s degree or higher. However, they will also accept A-levels, GCSes, or an equivalent.

If you do not meet the education requirement, you may still have options for the program. For instance, the IIA will admit full-time students in their senior year at a college or university. And they will also consider individuals who have 7 years of verified experience in lieu of the education requirement.

The IIA website is your source for all documents related to the education requirement. So, just visit the site to submit a copy of your degree, official transcripts, or A-level certificates, a letter from your university confirming your degree, or a letter from an evaluation service confirming your degree level. You can also use the site to locate and submit the form for the education exemption. Again, you must upload all completed documents to the CDUP.

Proof of Identification

To verify your identity, the IIA will ask you to submit a current (not expired) copy of your official passport or national identity card. And when you scan and upload your document to the CDUP, make sure your photo is clear.

CIA Exam

In order for the IIA to consider you as a CIA candidate, you must meet the requirements related to your character, education, and identity. However, if you meet those requirements and get the IIA’s approval, you can apply for the CIA program and take the CIA exam. The IIA CIA exam consists of 3 parts, and you must pass each to earn the certification.


The CIA exam is confidential. Therefore, you must agree not to share any of its content with anyone outside of the IIA’s Certification Department. If you breach this confidentiality, you will be considered in violation of the IIA Code of Ethics and may be disqualified from earning the certification.

Work Experience

Hands-on, real-world experience is an important component of earning the CIA. Specifically, the IIA requires candidates to have a certain number of years of experience in audit/assessment fields including external auditing, quality assurance, compliance, and internal control.

Furthermore, the number of years of internal auditing experience you need is dependent upon your level of education.

CIA Work Experience Requirements

Education Level Years of Work Experience Required
Master’s Degree (or equivalent) 12 months – internal auditing experience or its equivalent
Bachelor’s Degree (or equivalent) 24 months – internal auditing experience or its equivalent
Associate degree, 3 A-Level Certificates, grade C or higher (or equivalent) 60 months – internal auditing experience or its equivalent

You’ll need to have your work experience verified by a current or former supervisor or a CIA, CCSA, CGAP, CFSA or CRMA.

Eligibility Period

CIA candidates have 3 years to earn their certification. This 3-year period starts when the IIA grants you official acceptance into the program. And if you are not able to meet all of the requirements within that time frame, you forfeit all exam fees and credits.

Continuing Professional Education (CPE)

As a CIA, the IIA expects you to stay current with industry trends and continually work to develop your skills. Therefore, once you earn your certification, you must then earn continuing professional education (CPE) hours. However, the IIA will grant you 40 hours of CPE during the year you earn the CIA. Then, you’ll get another 40 hours the following year for a total of 80 CPE hours in 2 years. For this reason, you won’t have to start earning the annual CPE hours on your own until the third year of your certification.

And then, the number of CPE hours you’ll be responsible to acquire will depend on your certification status, as you can see in this table.


Reporting Status Definition Use Certification CPE Hours for CIA
Practicing Actively performing internal audit or related activities Yes 40
Non-practicing Not actively performing internal audit or related activities No 20

The IIA only accepts CPE from educational programs that meet the Professional Certification Board’s (PCB) established guidelines. And all CIAs, regardless of status, must take 2 CPE hours each year on an ethics topic.

Code of Ethics

As a final step, when you formally earn and accept the CIA certification, you agree to adhere to the IIA’s Code of Ethics. If you fail to do so, you could lose the certification.

Experience and Education Waivers

The IIA does allow for some exemptions to the education and experience requirements. Specifically for the UK, the IIA will waive these requirements for individuals who hold the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) qualification.

So, if you have the ACCA, be sure to indicate your status on the CIA program application. The IIA will then place your application in pending status until they can verify that your membership is active.


As stated, the CIA exam includes 3 parts. The 3 CIA exam parts include:

The overall exam is comprehensive for internal auditing. However, each CIA exam part covers specific content areas.

CIA Exam Content

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 CIA exam measures your understanding of these topics using only multiple-choice questions (MCQs). However, the number of MCQs in each exam part varies. As a result, total testing time for each part also varies. So, the chart below details the number of questions and the time limit for each exam part.

CIA Exam Testing Time and Question Counts

Exam Part Duration Number of Questions
1 2 ½ hours 125
2 2 hours 100
3 2 hours 100

Furthermore, the CIA exam tests your understanding of internal auditing topics at 2 cognitive levels. With these cognitive levels, the exam assesses your depth of knowledge on the exam topics. You can learn more about the cognitive levels in the CIA exam syllabus. But basically, the IIA uses this approach as a way of ensuring candidates possess sufficient understanding of complex internal auditing content.

And the IIA defines the cognitive levels as:

  • Basic Level: Candidates retrieve relevant knowledge from memory and/or demonstrate basic comprehension of concepts or processes.
  • Proficient Level: Candidates apply concepts, processes, or procedures; analyze, evaluate, and make judgments based on criteria; and/or put elements or material together to formulate conclusions and recommendations.

The CIA exam parts test the following number of topics at each cognitive level:

CIA Exam Cognitive Levels

Exam Part Basic Level Proficient Level
1 14 16
2 14 21
3 32 3

The CIA exam score ranges from 250 to 750, and a passing score is 600. Currently, the overall CIA exam pass rate is 42%.

Fortunately, the CIA exam is fully computerized and contains only MCQs. As a result, come test day, you’ll immediately receive your unofficial score after finishing the exam. Then, a few days later, you can view your official score report in your candidate profile on the IIA website.

The IIA works with Pearson VUE to administer the CIA exam. For your convenience, Pearson VUE maintains over 900 testing centers around the world. What’s more, Pearson VUE offers the previous version of the CIA exam in Czech, Estonian, Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian, and Polish. And the 2019 version of the CIA exam is available or will soon be available in English, French, Spanish, German, Turkish, Arabic, Russian, Korean, Portuguese, Chinese Traditional, Japanese, Chinese Simplified, and Thai.

Chartered IIA UK Membership

To become a CIA in the UK, you must fulfill all the IIA CIA requirements and pay the appropriate fees. So, as you make your CIA plans, you should simultaneously budget for the CIA exam fees. To do so, you must take the time to learn about each Certified Internal Auditor exam cost in the UK.

As a CIA candidate, you’ll need to account for an application fee and 3 exam part fees. However, you must also consider 2 additional fees: the membership fee for the Chartered IIA and the fee to access the CIA Learning System. The Chartered IIA requires CIA candidates to pay each fee before they can apply for the CIA program.

As an individual member of the Chartered IIA, you are also a member of the global IIA. And, this relationship affords you numerous perks. As a global IIA member, you can:

  • Connect with an international peer network
  • Find updated and universally accepted internal audit standards and guidance
  • Participate in training, webinars, and events
  • Learn about job and volunteer opportunities

Overall, the Certified Internal Auditor UK costs break down as:

Certified Internal Auditor Exam Costs in the UK

Pricing USD Pound
Application Fee 180 141.54
Exam Part 1 435 342.06
Exam Part 2 355 279.15
Exam Part 3 355 279.15
CIA Online Learning System 661.28 520
VAT 132.26 104
Chartered IIA Annual Membership Fee 249.25 196
Chartered IIA Annual Application Fee 171.68 135
Total 2,539.47 1,996.90

Remember, as a CIA UK, you earn significantly more than your non-certified peers. You also have more job opportunities in your field as well as opportunities in new fields. Therefore, the CIA is a worthwhile investment with an impressive return.

How to Become a Certified Internal Auditor in the UK

The benefits of becoming a Certified Internal Auditor in the UK are vast and worthwhile. So, why wait? Follow the 7 steps to CIA success so you can earn the certification and boost your career as a CIA UK.

1. Purchase a comprehensive CIA review course

As a starting point, ensure you can meet the IIA education, character, and identification requirements. Then, once you feel confident in your ability to do so, buy a CIA review course. I recommend taking this step early so you can study throughout the CIA application and exam registration process. Employing this strategy will help you become a CIA in the UK much sooner.

The Chartered IIA requires CIA candidates to pay for access to the CIA Learning System. Specifically, you must pay this fee before you can apply to take the CIA. However, the IIA CIA Learning System has many issues as a CIA review course. Therefore, I still strongly suggest that CIA candidates also invest in one of the more comprehensive CIA courses on the market.

A comprehensive CIA review course gives you everything you need to pass the CIA exam on your first try. With such a course, you receive in-depth information related to the exam content. You also get as much guidance as you want from a built-in exam support system. What’s more, most courses offer advice on how to create a workable study schedule, stay on track, and navigate the most complex exam concepts.

Typically, a CIA review course includes textbooks, audio and video lectures, practice exams and questions, and study aids such as flashcards. And you usually have access to all of these materials until you pass the exam. Additionally, everything is available in an easy-to-use online platform. So, when you purchase a CIA review course, you can be confident that you have all the resources and information necessary for CIA exam success.

Best Certified Internal Auditor Training in the UK

The CIA UK is an investment. So, you want to give yourself every opportunity to pass the CIA exam on your first attempt. For this reason, you should choose to study with one of the top CIA exam review courses on the market. And thankfully, you can save big on your CIA course with our CIA review discounts.

Furthermore, if you’d like additional information on the importance of a CIA review course or a personalized CIA review course recommendation, just contact me.

2. Apply for the CIA program

To officially apply for the CIA program, you’ll need to visit the IIA website and create an account in the Certification Candidate Management System (CCMS). After your account is set up, you’ll be able to complete the CIA application form and upload the documents related to your education, identification, and character reference.

At this stage, you must also pay the application fee. And you can do so via credit card, check, or wire transfer. The IIA will email you an official response within 24-48 hours of receiving your application and fee.

3. Register for the CIA exam part(s)

With IIA approval and access into the CIA program, you can then register for the CIA exam part(s). Again, you must log in to your CCMS account to start the process. Then, you must select registration links for each CIA exam part, agree to the Pricing Provisions and Conditions statement, and pay the CIA exam part fees.

4. Schedule your CIA exam UK testing appointment

The IIA will process your registration and send you an authorization to test via email. And this email will include instructions for scheduling your exam with Pearson VUE. So, simply click on the link provided in the email to visit the Pearson VUE website. From there, you can select your preferred exam appointment location, date, and time. You can also choose your preferred exam language. As a reminder, Pearson VUE administers the CIA exam in over 900 testing locations around the world. What’s more, most sites are open 5-6 days a week.

Plus, you can now take advantage of online testing for the CIA exam! However, this option might be temporary, and the IIA might return to in-person testing only in the future. So definitely take advantage of this option while you can if you prefer to take the CIA exam in your home of office.

As a precaution, the IIA requires you to wait 48 hours after you receive the authorization to test email to schedule your CIA exam. But after the 48-hour period comes to a close, you’ll have 180 days to schedule and sit for the exam.

5. Study, sit for, and pass the CIA exam

The CIA exam is passable, but it is not easy. Therefore, you must not underestimate the importance of acquiring adequate CIA exam prep time. Getting enough study time in before your exam date is another reason to purchase your CIA review course early in the certification process. Being prudent in this way ensures that you are ready by exam day and able to pass the exam on your first try.

If you are well-acquainted with the CIA exam content already, then you only need to study for a minimum number of hours. However, if you know that you’re rusty in some content areas, then you may want to shoot for a safer number of study hours. I’ve outlined my recommendations for each of these scenarios in this chart.

CIA Exam Study Hours

Exam Part Minimum # of Study Hours Safe # of Study Hours
1 30 65
2 30 70
3 50 95

Remember, becoming a CIA in the UK can change the course of your career. And, you owe it to yourself to give the CIA exam your best effort. Therefore, you should keep these study hours in mind as you’re putting together a study schedule. Then, you should stick to that schedule. When you give yourself adequate study time, you can identify your weak areas and focus specifically on them. Doing this and following my other CIA exam preparation tips increases your chances of passing the exam on your first try.

6. Meet the work experience requirement

Fortunately, you don’t need to fulfill the work experience requirement before you sit for the CIA exam. But you do need to ensure you meet the experience requirement and all other program requirements within the 4-year eligibility period granted by the IIA.

As a reminder, the number of years of experience you need depends on your education level. If you have a master’s or bachelor’s degree, you should be able to gain 1-2 years of experience during your 4-year CIA eligibility period. However, if you have an associate’s degree, A-Level Certificate, or an equivalent, you’ll need to accumulate 5 years of experience. Consequently, you’ll need at least 1 year of experience on your resume before you start the CIA program.

7. Receive the CIA certification and start accumulating CPE

In many cases, the work experience requirement represents the final piece of the CIA certification puzzle for most candidates. But once submitted, the IIA typically only takes a few days to process and grant the certification. So, you’ll have official confirmation in no time. And then after you earn the CIA designation, you’ll have a full 2 years before you need to start raking in CPE credits.

Free Help for Becoming a Certified Internal Auditor in the UK

To get more information about the CIA process, including tips on how to pass each exam part the first time, just take my free CIA e-course. This course tells you how to become a CIA and how to achieve CIA exam success. So, get my Certified Internal Auditor course details in the UK or sign up below!

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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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