I Pass the CIA Exam!

CIA vs CPA: Deciding Between the CIA Certification and the CPA Certification

cia vs cpa

You may not know this, but auditors have options regarding which internal audit certification they can use to advance their careers. Specifically, both the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification and the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification can serve as auditor certifications. Therefore, you need to learn more about these certifications to determine which one is better for achieving your career goals. So, let’s debate the CIA vs CPA to help you decide between them.

CPA vs CIA: Comparison Chart

Focus & Recognition
Focus General audit and accounting Internal audit
Overall recognition
Industry recognition
Exam Requirements
Entry barrier
Bachelor’s degree
150 credit hours
Accounting concentration
Minimum number of accounting courses
Exam Details
Exam availability Throughout the year Throughout the year
Total testing time for all exam parts 16 6.5
Number of exam parts/sections 4 3
Average pass rate 50% 48%
Estimated expenses (US$)  About $4,000+ $1,500 – 2,000+

CIA vs CPA: What Is the CIA?

To know if the CIA certification is right for you, you first need to know what the CIA is.

The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) created the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification. Furthermore, the CIA is the only globally recognized internal audit certification. Plus, this certification demonstrates that internal auditors have the necessary knowledge, skills, and competencies to effectively perform any audit, anywhere.

With the CIA behind your name, you prove that you have:

  • Credibility and trust
  • Expertise in the understanding and application of the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing
  • Knowledge of organizational governance
  • A commitment to the internal auditing profession
  • Readiness for career advancement
  • A place among a distinguished class of internal auditors

CIA vs CPA: What Is the CPA?

If you want to determine whether the CPA certification is worth your pursuit, you must learn what the CPA is.

The CPA is the Certified Public Accountant license that the boards of accountancy in each of the 55 U.S. jurisdictions award to accountants. The state boards hold CPA candidates to very high standards because CPAs are accounting experts entrusted to protect the public interest. In order to verify their ability to fulfill the responsibilities of the position, CPA candidates must meet a strict set of requirements specific to their state board before receiving the license. For instance, CPAs must pass a difficult exam and meet the CPA work experience requirements.

Because meeting the CPA requirements involves demonstrating high levels of knowledge and competence, CPAs are an elite group of greatly respected accounting professionals. The CPA is the gold standard in accounting certifications and equips accountants for a vast number of career positions and possibilities. As a result, if you plan to advance your career as an accountant, you should definitely look into how to become a CPA.

CIA vs CPA: CIA Careers

CIAs usually work in the internal audit departments of government agencies, financial institutions, or corporations. And within these departments, a CIA is responsible for analyzing financial records objectively to discover any deficiencies in internal controls.

Instead of just working with financial statements like regular auditors, CIAs supply a wide range of services to help a company handle risk and safeguard assets. That is to say, the scope of a CIA’s audit of financial reports extends beyond just checking for accuracy to include working with company leadership to establish systems for the prevention of loss, fraud, theft, and damaged goods. For these reasons, CIAs have many more obligations than non-certified internal auditors.

CIAs distinguish themselves from CPAs with their more focused set of skills. These skills enable CIAs to fulfill internal audit jobs and duties such as:

  • Reviewing an organization’s business procedures
  • Evaluating the efficacy of current risk management procedures
  • Ensuring compliance with relevant laws
  • Protecting against fraud and theft committed against the organization
  • Recommending improvements to internal controls and governance processes

Furthermore, a CIA’s expertise in internal auditing allows them to work in the following industries:

  • Private commercial entities
  • Public commercial entities
  • Public accounting firms
  • Governmental agencies

CIA vs CPA: CPA Careers

CPAs have the skills and certification sway to pursue all kinds of career paths in the accounting and finance industries. Due to the demanding requirements of knowledge and ethics they’ve met and continue to meet to sustain their certified status, CPAs can hold a host of jobs such as auditors, accounting consultants, business advisers, decision-makers, tax accountants, and more.

CPAs are qualified to operate in these and many other industries:

  • Assurance services
  • Taxation services
  • Consulting services
  • Information Technology (IT) services
  • Litigation services
  • Business valuation
  • Environmental accounting
  • Forensic accounting
  • International accounting
  • Financial planning
  • Government
  • Education
  • Non-profit organizations

What’s more, CPAs are plenty capable of serving as company management and holding executive positions such as:

  • Chief Accounting Officer
  • Accounting Vice President
  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Director of Financial Operations
  • Assistant Director of Finance
  • Assistant Director of Financial Operations
  • Controller

Plus, CPAs who are particularly interested in tax law can also consider if taking the LSAT is a good career step, too.

CIA vs CPA: CIA Salary

When you earn the CIA certification, you can enjoy a career that is not only financially stable but also financially lucrative.

The IIA reports that CIAs earn an average of $38,000 (40%) more than non-certified internal auditors. Additionally, Indeed, Glassdoor, Payscale, and other job sites verify that the CIA salary ranges from $69,000-$84,000.

The Robert Half Salary Guide also provides some CIA salary insight by presenting annual salary information for internal auditors in corporate accounting and in financial services. From Robert Half, we learn that the CIA certification allows internal auditors in corporate accounting to earn anywhere from $16,750-$157,250 more than non-certified internal auditors annually, depending on their position and years of experience. What’s more, CIAs in finance and accounting can make $25,250-$81,250 more a year than regular internal auditors.

And unsurprisingly, with increased experience comes increased earning potential, as CIAs in high positions such as Chief Audit Executive or Internal Audit Director can make anywhere from a quarter to a half a million dollars annually.

CIA vs CPA: CPA Salary

Of course, you’ll also enjoy elevated earning potential with the CPA certification thanks to the CPA salary.

The average U.S. accountant’s salary is $69,350, but CPAs make about 10-15% more than unlicensed accountants.

According to ThisWaytoCPA, CPAs offering tax services in public accounting can make $41,000-$59,500 with less than 1 year of experience, $49,750-$70,750 with 1-3 years of experience, and $62,500-$87,500 in a senior position. CPAs who work in the audit/assurance department of a public accounting firm can make $41,000-$58,000 with less than 1 year of experience, $46,000-$64,500 with 1-3 years of experience, and $55,000-$78,750 in a senior position.

Certified Public Accountants who find positions in corporate accounting can make even more. When working as a budget analyst, CPAs can make $44,000-$63,250 with less than 1 year of experience, $57,500-$82,000 with 1-3 years of experience, and $71,000-$100,750 in a senior position. When operating as a tax accountant, CPAs can earn $45,250-$65,250 with less than 1 year of experience, $61,500-$87,250 with 1-3 years of experience, and $75,500-$108,250 in a senior position.

According to the Robert Half Salary Guide, CPAs can also make the following figures in positions like these, depending on the size of the company and your experience level.

Public Accounting

  • Entry-Level Staff Accountant: $53,000
  • Senior Accounting in General Accounting: $84,750
  • Accounting Manager: $102,000

Corporate Accounting

  • Entry-Level Tax Accountant: $56,500
  • Senior Tax Accounting: $93,250
  • Tax Manager: $119,000
  • Corporate Controller: $188,250
  • Certified Financial Officer: $214,500


  • Entry-Level Internal Auditor: $49,750
  • Senior Internal Auditor: $93,500
  • Manager of Internal Audit: $120,500
  • Chief Audit Executive: $191,500

As if these CPA salary figures weren’t enough to entice you, you should also know that many companies financially support their employees on their CPA journeys and award bonuses for becoming a CPA. Moreover, CPAs can charge more for their services solely because they have those 3 letters behind their name.

CIA vs CPA: CIA Designation Requirements

As with most professional accounting certifications, earning the CIA involves meeting a specific set of requirements. In order to receive the CIA certificate, candidates must satisfy the following IIA-established CIA requirements:


  • You must have an associate’s degree or higher to get into the CIA program.
  • IIA-accepted associate’s degree equivalents include a Foundation Degree, Diploma of Higher Education, and Higher National Diploma.
  • The IIA expects to receive the following documents as proof of your education, such as:
    • Copies of your degree(s) or official transcripts.
    • A letter from your university confirming your degree.
    • Or, a letter from an evaluation services agency confirming your degree level.
  • Furthermore, the IIA may also grant entry into the CIA program to candidates who possess 7 years of verified experience in internal audit or its equivalent.

Character reference

  • You must also demonstrate high moral and professional character.
  • What’s more, a CIA, CGAP, CCSA, CFSA, CRMA, or your supervisor must sign the Character reference form as proof of your good character.

Work experience

  • The work experience requirement you must meet varies depending on the level of education you’ve achieved.
  • For example, if you have a master’s degree or equivalent, you must have 12 months of internal auditing experience or its equivalent.
  • With a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, though, you must acquire 24 months of internal auditing experience or its equivalent.
  • Finally, candidates with an associate’s degree, A-Level Certificate, or an equivalent must accumulate 60 months of internal auditing experience or its equivalent.

Proof of identification

  • You must present a current copy of either your official passport or your national identity card.


  • First, of all, you must pass all 3 parts of the CIA exam.
  • Additionally, you must finish the entire CIA exam within 3 years of the date you received approval into the CIA program.

CIA vs CPA: CPA Qualification Requirements

Becoming a Certified Public Accountant involves meeting the CPA requirements, but these requirements are not universal.

While the IIA establishes the CIA requirements, no one national governing body makes the rules for the CPA certification in the U.S. Instead, the boards of accountancy of the individual states/territories regulate accounting and dictate the CPA licensure for that area.

Therefore, the CPA requirements vary from one jurisdiction to the next. However, due to the unifying efforts of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), the state CPA requirements do share general areas of overlap.

Consequently, the basic requirements for the CPA license are:


  • Earn a 4-year bachelor’s degree and 150 credit hours of general education


  • Pass the entire Uniform CPA Examination


  • Acquire at least 1 year of relevant accounting experience

So, all CPA candidates must meet some version of these requirements. But many states also mandate one additional requirement:


  • Pass the state’s ethics examination

CIA vs CPA: CIA Exam

One of the most imposing CIA requirements is the CIA exam. CIA candidates must pass all 3 parts of this exam in order to become a CIA, so there’s no way around it.

The 3 CIA exam parts, their content areas, and coverage percentages are:

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%)

Furthermore, the number of questions, types of questions, and total testing time for each CIA exam part are as follows:

CIA Exam Details

Exam Part


Number of Questions

Types of Questions

Part 1

2 ½ hours 125


Part 2

2 hours



Part 3

2 hours 100


A passing CIA exam score is a 600 on a scale of 250-750. And currently, the overall CIA exam pass rate is 48%.

The IIA has fully computerized the CIA certification exam and made it available at over 500 Pearson Vu testing centers around the world. Additionally, you can take the CIA exam in one of 16 different languages, including Arabic, Chinese Traditional, English, French, German, Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovenian, Spanish, Thai, and Turkish. 

CIA vs CPA: CPA Exam

The CPA Exam is just as imposing as the CIA exam (if not more so) and just as essential to the CPA certification process. You have to pass all 4 sections of the CPA Exam in order to become a CPA. And because the CPA Exam has more sections and topics, you must know more about accounting to do so.

Prior to 2024, the CPA Exam sections included AUD (Auditing and Attestation), BEC (Business and Environment and Concepts), FAR (Financial Accounting and Reporting), and REG (Regulation). However, the CPA Exam changed at the beginning of 2024. Basically, instead of taking the BEC section, CPA candidates now must choose one of three “Discipline” sections, which including Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR), Information Systems and Controls (ISC), and Tax Compliance and Planning (TCP). Futhermore, the AUD, BEC, and FAR sections are now called the “Core” sections. So here is how the CPA Exam sections break down now:

CPA Exam Content

AUD – Core

Content area Allocation
Area I Ethics, Professional Responsibilities and General Principles 15-25%
Area II Assessing Risk and Developing a Planned Response 25–35%
Area III Performing Further Procedures and Obtaining Evidence 30–40%
Area IV Forming Conclusions and Reporting 10-20%

FAR – Core

Content area Allocation
Area I Financial Reporting 30-40%
Area II Select Balance Sheet Accounts 30–40%
Area III Select Transactions 25–35%

REG – Core

Content area Allocation
Area I Ethics, Professional Responsibilities and Federal Tax Procedures 10–20%
Area II Business Law 15-25%
Area III Federal Taxation of Property Transactions 5-15%
Area IV Federal Taxation of Individuals 22-32%
Area V Federal Taxation of Entities (including tax preparation) 23-33%

BAR – Discipline 

Content area Allocation
Area I Business Analysis 40-50%
Area II Technical Accounting and Reporting 35-45%
Area III State and Local Governments 10–20%

ISC – Discipline 

Content area Allocation
Area I Information Systems and Data Management 35–45%
Area II Security, Confidentiality and Privacy 35-45%
Area III Considerations for System and Organization 15-25%

TCP – Discipline 

Content area Allocation
Area I Tax Compliance and Planning for Individuals and Personal Financial Planning 30–40%
Area II Entity Tax Compliance 30-40%
Area III Entity Tax Planning 10-20%
Area IV Property Transactions (disposition of assets) 10-20%

CPA Exam Skill Levels

Not only does the CPA Exam cover a lot of accounting content, but it also does so at varying levels of depth. In order to ensure that the CPA Exam fulfills its purpose of proving you have the knowledge necessary for the CPA position, the exam tests you at four different skill levels.

  • Evaluation (highest): The examination or assessment of problems and use of judgments to draw conclusions.
  • Analysis: The examination and study of the interrelationships of separate areas in order to identify causes and find evidence to support inferences.
  • Application: The use or demonstration of knowledge, concepts, or techniques.
  • Remembering and Understanding (lowest): The perception and comprehension of the significance of an area utilizing knowledge gained.
2024 Section Remembering and Understanding Application  Analysis Evaluation
AUD – Core 30-40% 30-40% 15-25% 5-15%
FAR – Core 5-15% 45-55% 35-45%
REG – Core 25-35% 35-45% 25-35%
BAR – Discipline 10-20% 45-55% 30-40%
ISC – Discipline 55-65% 20-30% 10-20%
TCP – Discipline 5-15% 55-65% 25-35%

CPA Exam Questions

The CPA Exam also uses two different types of questions to assess candidates at these skill levels. (The BEC section used to have questions called written communications, too, but they are a thing of the past.)

The weight of the different question types on each CPA Exam section varies:

  • AUD – Core Section – 50% MCQs and 50% TBSs
  • FAR – Core Section – 50% MCQs and 50% TBSs
  • REG – Core Section – 50% MCQs and 50% TBSs
  • BAR – Discipline Section – 50% MCQs and 50% TBSs
  • ISC – Discipline Section – 60% MCQs and 40% TBSs
  • TCP – Discipline Section – 50% MCQs and 50% TBSs

CPA Exam Details

So, the number and types of questions and total testing time for each exam section are as follows:

  • AUD – Core Section – 4 hours – 78 MCQs and 7 TBSs
  • FAR – Core Section – 4 hours – 50 MCQs and 7 TBSs
  • REG – Core Section – 4 hours – 72 MCQs and 8 TBSs
  • BAR – Discipline Section – 4 hours – 50 MCQs and 7 TBSs
  • ISC – Discipline Section – 4 hours – 82 MCQs and 6 TBSs
  • TCP – Discipline Section – 4 hours – 68 MCQs and 7 TBSs

However, the total testing time for all 4 CPA Exam sections is 4 hours – you have to pass AUD, FAR, and REG for a total of 12 hours and then one discipline section that will take another 4 hours.

Furthermore, for all 4 sections, a CPA Exam passing score is 75 on a scale of 0-99. Currently, the average CPA Exam pass rate is about 50%.

The AICPA has computerized the entire CPA Exam and allows candidates to take it at Prometric testing centers around America and around the world. Along with hundreds of U.S. testing centers, Prometric also administers the international CPA Exam in many different countries including Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, England, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Nepal, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, and The UAE.

CPA vs CIA: Cost of the CPA Certification

Though the CPA certification is well worth the investment, the process of earning it is not cheap.

While CPA Exam fees vary from state to state, most jurisdictions follow NASBA’s fee schedule:

  • AUD: $344.80 (average – CPA Exam fees can vary)
  • FAR: $344.80
  • REG: $344.80
  • Discipline section: $344.80

Candidates must also pay an application fee of anywhere from $30-$200 or more. But then, if you fail an exam section, you may also have to pay a registration fee of a similar amount.

What’s more, taking the ethics exam (which most states require) will cost you another $150-$190. And finally, funding your official CPA license can set you back another $50-$300. International students will also have to account for travel and accommodation costs and foreign credential evaluations, if not a few other expenses as well.

CPA Review

Last but certainly not least in price or necessity is a CPA review course. You’ll need a complete course with an assortment of study materials, support systems, and guarantees in order to pass the exam, and the most popular CPA review courses cost anywhere from $1,000-$3,000+. The biggest name in CPA review is Becker CPA. Becker has courses that cost upwards of $3,000, but Becker also has the value and reputation to go with the price. And thankfully, you can save big on Becker and all your other best CPA Exam prep options when you use CPA review discounts. Plus, Becker is the CPA course purchased by all Big 4 firms so that their team members can study and pass the CPA Exam.

So, all told, you should expect to spend at least $3,000 on the CPA certification. After you’ve earned the license, you’ll also have to pay for continuing professional education (CPE) every year, which can cost anywhere from $20-$125 a credit. Though, your employer might foot the bill for some of that.

CPA vs CIA: Cost of the CIA Certification

The cost of the CIA exam includes the application and exam registration fees, which total $1,315 for non-IIA members. If you pay the $250 for IIA membership (which is not necessary for entering the CIA program), you’ll enjoy lower CIA exam fees that come to $855.

CIA Review

When you factor in the cost of a CIA review course, which is essential for exam success, you’ll find that passing the CIA exam requires a budget of a little less than $2,000. Gleim CIA Review is the most popular and widely used CIA review course, and the complete 3-part course can cost $949. This price comes in at the high end of the CIA exam prep spectrum, though. But, you can save big on Gleim and all the other great CIA review courses and stay well within your $2,000 budget when you use my CIA discounts.

Maintaining the CIA designation also involves earning CPE, but again, you may get reimbursed for this annual expense by your employer.

CPA vs CIA: Time Commitment for the CPA Certification

Not only is the CPA Exam more complicated and more demanding than the CIA exam, but the CPA Exam also allows less time to pass than the CIA exam does.

Once you pass your first CPA Exam sections, you have a rolling 30-month period to pass the remaining 3 sections. If you don’t accomplish this task, you will lose credit for the first section you passed, and the start of your 30 months will move back to the date of your earliest passed section.

Then, you must pass both the section you lost credit for and the other exam sections you haven’t passed yet within this new time period. This process will continue until you pass all 4 exam sections within the stipulations of the 18-month window.

Furthermore, in the past, the CPA Exam was only available during these 4 annual testing windows:

  • January 1-March 10
  • April 1-June 10
  • July 1-September 10
  • October 1-December 10

And then for a while, the CPA Exam was offered year-round whenever a Prometric testing center was open. However, after the CPA Exam changed in 2024, the AICPA introduced some blackout dates. Plus, the dates for the CPA Core and Discipline sections are different, too.

Dates for the 2024 CPA Exam: Core sections

  • Q1: January 10-March 26, 2024
  • Q2: April 1-June 25, 2024
  • Q3: July 1-September 25, 2024
  • Q4: October 1-December 26, 2024

Dates for the CPA Exam in 2024: Discipline sections

  • Q1: January 10-February 6, 2024
  • Q2: April 20-May 19, 2024
  • Q3: July 1-31, 2024
  • Q4: October 1-31, 2024

CPA Certification Timeline

If you address the different requirements one at a time, earning the CPA certificate can take anywhere from 7-9 years. This time frame includes 5 years to earn 150 credit hours, 1½ years to pass the CPA Exam, and 1-2 years to accumulate accounting experience.

But if you pass the CPA Exam during the summer after you graduate and before you start your first job, or if you take the CPA Exam while working full-time, you can cut the process down to 6-7 years. However, you can only earn the CPA this quickly if you pass each exam section the first time. For each section you fail, you push your end date back by a few months or so.

CPA vs CIA: Time Commitment for the CIA Certification

As mentioned, you have 3 years to pass all 3 parts of the CIA exam once the IIA has approved your application.

And, another convenient CIA exam perk is the lack of testing windows or blackout dates. Such scheduling flexibility means you can sit for the CIA exam at any time of the year. So, if you study for each CIA exam part for 10-15 hours a week and pass each part on your first attempt, you can complete the entire exam in as few as 3-7 months.

CIA Certification Timeline

If you pass the CIA exam as you’re completing your education or accumulating your experience, finishing all the CIA requirements can still take 6-8 years, depending on your education level. The more education you have, the less experience you need.

So, if you spend 2 years getting an associate’s degree, you’ll need to acquire 5 years of experience. With a 4-year bachelor’s degree, you need just 2 years of experience. Finally, getting a master’s degree, which can take 2-3 years to earn, will reduce your experience requirement down to just 1 year.

So, earning the CIA certification can take anywhere from 6-8 years.

CPA vs CIA: Benefits of the CPA Certificate

Now that you know about the differences between the CPA certificate and the CIA certificate, you can start to determine which internal audit certification is better for you by considering the specific benefits. The advantages of the CPA certificate in particular include:

1. Elevated Prestige and Recognition

Most everyone in the industry agrees that the CPA is the accounting qualification to go for. The CPA certification has the longest history, and the AICPA has the most members. What’s more, the CPA qualification looks good behind the names of accountants in all disciplines.

2. High Standards

While the CPA’s regard is high, its barrier of entry is also high. The detailed list of the strict state board requirements certainly presents a challenge to CPA candidates. However, the requirements also establish the CPA as a badge of honor testifying to high levels of skill and capability. Therefore, the CPA’s high standards make the certification all the more valuable to employers.

3. More Versatility

Since the business community views the CPA as the gold standard for general accounting, a Certified Public Accountant can work in a host of companies and venture down various career paths.

For example, positions in public accounting, management accounting, governmental accounting, taxation, financial advisory, compliance, consulting, and more are all open to CPAs.  And because of all the value the certification holds, CPAs are usually the first choice to fill new openings and opportunities.

So, the CPA license is harder to get and remains relevant to a broad range of industries. Therefore, the CPA certification is more reputable overall.

CPA vs CIA: Benefits of the CIA Certificate

So, the CPA qualification is super desirable, but is it the only good option for internal auditors? Definitely not. See for yourself by considering the merits of the CIA qualification.

1. The Standard in the Internal Audit Industry

If you are an internal auditor, getting the qualification specifically dedicated to the profession makes the most sense. And the Certified Internal Auditor is the only global designation in the field of internal auditing and compliance. Furthermore, more companies are expecting their Chief Audit Executive (CAE) to hold the IIA’s CIA certification. Therefore, the CIA certificate is your ticket to the heights of the internal audit industry.

2. Entrance into a Great Niche

With corporate scandals and security threats on the rise in recent years, the demand for compliance professionals is ever-increasing. Consequently, the field of internal audit and compliance is a safe and stable place to put down vocational roots. While internal auditor and compliance officer jobs may not be the most thrilling, they are definitely some of the most secure. Therefore, they’re solid sources of steady income.

3. An Easier Certification to Earn

The CIA certification is not only worth every bit of effort you put into it, but it also doesn’t even require that much effort.

As you recall, the scope of the CIA exam targets internal audit exclusively, while the CPA Exam sets its sights on a wider array of topics. The CIA exam also has fewer parts and takes less total testing time.

Furthermore, the IIA asks for a lower level of higher education and a less specific degree than the state boards of accountancy. And while these organizations call for a comparable amount of pertinent experience, only CPAs can verify the work of CPA candidates, whereas holders of other IIA certificates and supervisors with or without the CIA can confirm the work of CIA candidates.

Therefore, with its singular focus, the CIA certification is just as highly respected in the internal audit industry and is easier to get.

CPA vs CIA: Benefits of Pursuing Both Certifications

So, if either certification can help you get a good internal auditing job, can both certifications help you get a great internal auditing job?

Yes. If you aspire to be a senior member of the internal audit department, you should aim to acquire both qualifications. One of my readers explains why:

“Get both, then you won’t be turned down for any IA job. I had to have the CIA to become an auditor II and the CPA to become a supervisor. Now, I am one of the few people in the office with both, so nothing is holding me back from getting promoted further and becoming a supervisor and more at other places.”

Should I Aim for Both If I Want to Switch Jobs?

The desire to switch jobs could give you even more incentive to secure both certifications.

If you are a proven performer and/or if you already have the CIA certificate, your current company may overlook the fact that you don’t have the CPA when considering you for a promotion. However, if you plan on changing companies or distinguishing yourself for the leadership track, getting a CPA can make a big difference. You’ll look twice as attractive with the CPA, increasing your chances of landing the promotion or interview.

So, together, the CPA and CIA certificates will help you truly stand out among your peers and make you even more desirable to large organizations or clients seeking a wealth of services.

Which Qualification Should I Get If I Can Only Get One?

Many people do think it is not necessary to have both unless your employer requires them. And honestly, having the CPA can negate the need for the CIA. However, if you earn the CIA certificate first, your employer may still want you to get the CPA. My friends and colleagues in the field have had this experience, so it seems to be the general attitude about earning the CIA vs CPA.

CIA Challenge Exam: A Fast-Track to CIA for CPAs

If you decide that you should get both credentials, here’s a tip. The IIA offers an accelerated track to becoming a CIA through the CIA Challenge Exam. However, it’s only available to candidates who already have certain other accounting credentials. And the US CPA is one of them. Plus, you can even find dedicated review courses that specifically cater to the IIA Challenge Exam. The Gleim CIA Challenge Exam Review System is a top-rated example. The HOCK CIA Challenge Exam Material is another package that includes the tools you need to pass this special opportunity.

CIA vs CPA: Video Summary

CIA vs CPA: The Decision

If you’re ready to commit to the CIA certification process, check out my free CIA e-course or sign up directly below:

Please rate this

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.

follow me on:

Leave a Comment:

Add Your Reply