I Pass the CIA Exam!

How to Become a CIA in 12 Months: My Awesome Complete Guide


how to become a certified internal auditor

What’s the most direct way to become a Certified Internal Auditor? Here are the 10 steps.

1. Understand the Long Term Benefits

Stop looking up the application form.

The more important question is… why do you want to be a Certified Internal Auditor in the first place?

The CIA certification is granted by the Institution of Internal Auditors, and is the only global qualification for internal auditors. While it adds great value to many professionals in this field, you want to make sure the benefits apply to you as well.

You have to be committed to your work. Internal audit, whether it is the working part or the studying, requires a lot of time and hard work. Some days are good and some are terrible, just stay focused and keep going – it will be worth it in the end.

Annette (Blogger) 

2. Compare CIA to Other Certifications

There are many choices in terms of accounting and finance qualifications. Is CIA the most suitable for your career? Is it better to get a more general designation (e.g. CPA) or a more specialized one (e.g. CISA)?

3. Evaluate Your Ability: Can You Pass?

2016 CIA exam pass rate

The average CIA exam pass rate was 40.3% in the last 3 years. Can you make it?

4. Analyze Benefit vs Cost

This 3-part exam costs around $1,000-1,500. The total investment is typically around $2,000 when you include the study materials as well as the travel and accommodation cost.

5. Fulfill the Exam Requirements

Educational Requirements

The rule is relatively straightforward: the candidate is required to have a bachelor degree in any discipline from an accredited university. It can be partially or fully waived with 2-7 years of working experience in internal audit.

If you have a post-graduate education but not a bachelor degree, you can use 5 years of relevant and verifiable experience to waive the education requirement.

Experience Requirements

Candidates have to accumulate and verify (by your supervisor) 2 years of internal audit experience. Related professions, such as external audit, internal control, compliance, and quality assurance can normally be accepted.

A master’s degree in relevant field can substitute 12 months of work experience.

General accounting experience may not be enough. You need at least 1 year of audit /compliance experience.

6. Register for the Exam Parts

Once you have provided proof on your education, you can apply and register online using IIA’s candidate management system.

There are three parts for the CIA exam. Most candidates take Part 1 first, but you can choose to take the parts in any sequence.

Here is the Step-by-step registration process if you can’t wait to start!

7. Select a Test Center

The exam site is available in 500+ Pearson VUE centers around the world and there are 17 languages to choose from. You can practically take the exam any time of the year.

8. Study and Prepare for the Exam

Most candidates study on their own using self-study review materials. The best providers now have their courses available online for candidates to study at the comfort of their home, in anywhere around the world.

9. Take the CIA Exam

Part 1, Part and Part 3 of the exam takes 2.5 hours, 2 hours and 2 hours respectively. The exam itself fully comprises multiple choice questions, which means that you can get your score right after the exam. The official score report is available a few days afterwards.

There is a 90-day wait to retake the same part of the exam. Otherwise, one can take as many times as he likes within the 4 years of the program.

10. Receive your Certificate

Once you pass the exam and fulfill all the experience requirements, fill in the work verification form and you will be a fully minted Certified Internal Auditor in a couple of days.

Looking at the print out that said “PASS” was one of the best feelings ever. After all the hard work, worries, doubt, I conquer it through prayers and by believing in myself.

Lynnel (Blogger) 

The journey can be long, but it’s worth it to many of us. Are you ready?

Join Our Community Today!

You are most welcome to sign up to my mini-course below. If you aren’t sure what this is, learn about what this free mini e-course can offer before signing up.

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:


  • Saqib says:

    I am ACCA Affiliate with 2 years of Bachelors degree and planning to enroll into masters from next year I also have 2 years of experience in finance field. Am I eligible to sit CIA exam Part 1?? Waiting for your response

  • djili says:

    i am accountant from algeria and i want to get CIA certificat ?i have bachelor+4 years in university and i have 6 years in accounting in algeria.
    haw i can study online to get this certificated?and haw is it the step to started to learn?

    thanks in advance.

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Djili, the online study course is very user-friendly. Depending on the course, they may have video instruction, audio-visual presentation or e-books that you can refer to. Once you review a section, there are practice questions that you can work on to test yourself. You can learn more about the major course providers and their pros and cons here: https://ipasstheciaexam.com/cia-exam-review-courses/

      Regards, Stephanie

  • Shash says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    So one big Major query would on lines of my eligibility.

    I have a Bachelors in Banking but its through correspondence along with my CFP and i have been in the internal audit of a bank for last 5 years .

    Kindly guide.

  • kayendeke hadija arapha says:

    hi am hadija pursuing a bachelors degree in accounting and finance @ kyambogo university in Uganda, am in my final year of study wud lyk to know whether I can study CIA from Uganda in Kampala district and where are ur study centers and am I eligible for this course? will be waiting for ur reply

    • Stephanie says:

      Hello, I don’t cover study centers and not sure if there is one in your area, but many (likely most) candidates study on their own these days. The online courses are designed for effective studying at the comfort of your home, at the same time you have access to instructor directly or indirectly through the course. You can learn more about the offers here: https://ipasstheciaexam.com/cia-exam-review-courses/

  • Wele says:

    Hi CIA associates,,, am currently holding a B-Tech Degree in Internal Auditing. I have a strong interest in taking the CIA Exam. How do I begin. I do not have any practical experience,, am fresh from Varsity.

  • Ian says:

    I hold a BA in business but have minimal accounting experience. I did complete 3 accounting units in my degree. I am an experienced compliance auditor and wish to expand my qualifications. Can I complete the CIA successfully, or am I wasting my time with this?

  • Asfand yar khan says:

    Hi i am acca affiliate and i have (Bsc in applied accounting Oxford brookes degree). i have zero work experience. Please let me know as soon as possible is im eligible for CIA. and please also let me know if i am eligible which form should i fill “internal audit practitioner form” or “CIA V2” form. please reply me quick.

  • Fred Randall says:

    Two of our associates recently completed (Aug. 23, 2016) Internal Auditor training to AS9100 2016 Rev D. They both passed the testing and received a Certificate of Completion. What would be the next steps they would need to take to become CIA’s?

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Fred, I am not familiar with AS9100 and so not sure if this helps in terms of getting exemptions from any part of the CIA exam. You may want to contact IIA directly. Regards, Stephanie

  • ZEESHAN says:


    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Zeeshan, it is ok to fulfill your experience after the exam.
      (also, if you don’t mind, please do not capitalize your paragraph next time. It is exceedingly hard to read)

  • Luvo says:

    i have a bachelors degree in accounting and i started working as an internal auditor 6 months ago, can I go for cia part 1 ?

  • Maltesh says:

    i have a bachelors degree in accounting and working as internal auditor from past 4+ years… Please guide.

  • Mele Ishaku Zambuk says:

    Good day, I’m Mele Ishaku Zambuk from Nigeria, I want to be a member of the institute, currently I am an Internal Auditor with University of Abuja Teaching Hospital Gwagwalada, Abuja F. C. T. , Nigeria, with eighteen years working experience as an Internal Auditor. I have a B. Sc Accounting and M. Sc Accounting and Finance in view from University of Abuja. Am I eligible to become a member of the Institute, what are requirements and cost implications and where and who would I contact in Nigeria if any? Waiting for your positive response please.

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Mele, yes you should have no problem with a bachelor degree, and with so many years of experience in IA, you are more than qualified! For Nigerians you can go through the North America website for the registration. There may be an IIA Chapter in Nigeria.
      I googled and found this: http://www.iianigeria.org/

      Anyway, it’s totally fine if there is no nearby local chapter in your area as everything can be done online.

      Please click on the links in the article above for further info, but to check out the exam requirements, here is the link: https://ipasstheciaexam.com/cia-exam-requirements/

  • Julie Smith says:

    Silly question but I am the only auditor in our department and new. I signed up for Part 1 of the Exam but my confirmation says IIA-CIA Part 1-3P. I was under the impression the tests were administered separately (i.e., I would need to schedule 3 different dates for the respective parts of the exam). Will I need to prepare to be tested on ALL 3 parts? I’ve searched and searched and ironically can’t find an answer to this simple question. Thanks!

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Julie, no worries you only need to prepare for Part 1. The 3 exams are totally separate in terms of scheduling. Let us know if you have other questions — no question is silly here 😉 Stephanie

  • Eliot says:

    Am interested in knowing how long can it take me to be certified internal audit and how do i register, am a last year Bcompt student.

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Eliot, it largely depends on your academic and previous experience, but the more aggressive candidates can complete the 3 parts in a few months. Most take at least 9-12 months (one quarter for each exam, may have one retake) to get them done.

      • Marule says:

        That means I have to comit myself more, what are other certification in this field which you may recomend for internal audit

  • Sita Ram says:

    I have BCom degree and having 4 years accounts experience 1 year Internal Auditor exp. am i eligible for CIA course. How many attempts can write for each part? What reference books you recommend for preparation?

  • saad alawami says:

    I am studying cia part 2, and I am using power resource cooperation book. I found that there are hundreds of questions for each session, my question is
    Should I try to solve all these questions? Especially there are a lot of questions will be in different ways like sometime its about hr department of finance or investment

    • Stephanie says:

      Sorry Saad I never took a look at a the power resource book so I am not able to comment. I hope other readers can help you out.
      Typically, if there are end of chapter questions (say within 10 questions), I would do that before moving on as it helps you digest and apply what you have just learned in the chapter.

  • Lebona says:

    Good day

    I have completed all parts of the CIA program however I am not certified. Does the eligibility period include being certified? I wrote my last exam and passed on the last day of the eligibility period. Can I still apply for certification

  • Marule says:

    Yoh that is more years, but is it posible to finix it in lez dan 4 yearz or 3 yearz

    • Lebona says:

      You can do everything in one week or one day if you want. I was doing CIA in between my other studies.

  • Marule says:

    That is great. So do i go when i want 2 regista bkz thz is my final year and i thq it wl work 4m 2 1st do it bfr othe comitment

  • Andrew says:

    Hi. I have been an accountant for two years now. I have my CPA license. What work experience is required to get the CIA license? are two years of accounting considered as experience to get CIA license ? OR do i have to transfer to another department to accumulate experience for CIA? What one must do to get this work experience? what are the steps?Thank you for your kind attention.

  • Yoro says:

    Dear Sir/Madam

    My name is YORO JALLOW, citizen and resident of The GAMBIA here in WEST AFRICA and an employee of the State owned Telecommunications Company, GAMTEL

    My employer has agreed to sponsor my training in preparation to sit to the CIA Audit qualification and I am now looking for a suitable venue; College or University offering or preparing students to sit to the Exams in 2017/18 academic years.

    Kindly let me know if your University would be an ideal location for training to pass my exams. I am particularly interested in the cost, duration and accommodation near the school or college.

    Looking-forward to your kind response.
    Yoro Jallow

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Yoro, thanks for your note. I am not aware of a university that offers courses for the CIA exam. Many of us study on our own online, and you can find out the pros and cons of the major providers here: https://ipasstheciaexam.com/cia-exam-review-courses/

      You can of course find a center where they offer these courses in classroom setting, if that’s what you prefer. In most cases the materials are the same as the one you can get at the comfort of your home 🙂

  • Rohit Rajgopal says:

    Hey Friends ,

    I am Rohit Rajgopa from Dubai. I am a Post Graduate & Have experience of 3 years in 5star Hotel Accounting. I am Planning to enroll for CIA Exam.
    Please let me know when are the exam held for CIA , how many times in a year. ?? What is the duration it takes to complete the Certification if you have all the qualification & experience needed ??

    Please reply



    • Cessa says:

      Hi Rohit,

      Check the IIA website for you to know where the exam takes place in your country. Once you are eligible to take the exam, you can take it as many times as you want within 4 years starting on the approval date. You need to have 2 years minimum of internal audit practice.


  • Cessa says:


    Good day.

    I am a business administration graduate major in Management. I have worked with one of the big 4 accounting firms for approximately 3 years under advisory department. I took the all the CIA exam parts and unfortunately I failed for the first take. I would like to take it again this year. I used Gleims as my review tool. What other reviewer would you suggest for a non accounting graduate.

  • Joy Nxumalo says:

    Hi can you please assist me, i want to apply to write the CIA exam.
    i have an Advanced Diploma in internal Auditing and three years work experience in the Internal Audit department, currently busy with my Honors in Auditing and Internal Audit Technician learnership.

    do i qualify to write the CIA exam or not?
    If i do qualify where do i get the information?


    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Joy, sounds you are very qualified, but since “diploma” is defined differently in different country, it is best to check with the IIA and see if it is equivalent to a bachelor degree, or at least can be partially counted. Good luck! Stephanie

  • Banwari Lal Sharma says:

    Hello Everyone,
    My is Banwari I have at least 23 years experience in accounting and internal auditor.
    But my qualification is 11th passed in 1986 that time no 10+2 education rules in Rajasthan-india. I enrolled in 12th ( that time first year TDC comm. University of Rajasthan) By bad luck I am not clear this exam.
    My queries is can I do CIA certificate course right now or not. Please reply ASAP.

  • Banwari Lal Sharma says:

    Hello Everyone,
    My Name is Banwari I have at least 23 years experience in accounting and internal auditor.
    But my qualification is 11th passed in 1986 that time no 10+2 education rules in Rajasthan-india. I enrolled in 12th ( that time first year TDC comm. University of Rajasthan) By bad luck I am not clear this exam.
    My queries is can I do CIA certificate course right now or not. Please reply ASAP.

  • Suzy says:

    Hi There,

    I have a bachelor degree in Commerce- Accounting branch 1999 and I got a certificate in Accelerating bridging program 2011. Am I eligible to CIA ?

    • Stephanie says:

      Hello, if you have a bachelor degree you are qualified to take the exam. There will be experience requirements however — so make sure you can fulfill that in the foreseeable future. Cheers, Stephanie

  • William says:

    Hello, is there a possibility for exemptions under the current IIA/CIA framework if the candidate has a masters in auditing and 8 years of work experience in government/public finance auditing. If yes, what are these exemptions and any eventual implications. thanks for your response.

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi William, if you mean exemptions from taking one of the three exams, I don’t think so I am afraid…

  • Anthony says:

    Hello, can i have past papers please

    • Stephanie says:

      No sorry we have to respect the copyright and we do not share review courses on this platform. You may check out the library though.

  • Abdulla says:

    Hi , I want to recieve my certificate I passed part 1 of the cia . is each part has a certificate by itself ? or one I complete all 3 exams

  • JAMSHEED says:

    I Already registered CIA part 1, I didn’t submit the experience certificate. I had 2 yrs work experience in external audit 5 years before, but now I am working not related to accounts or auditing field. If I pass CIA All parts, is it ok to submit the old experience certificate.?
    I am waiting for your reply.
    Thanking you

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Jamsih,
      Yes, no problem to submit your previous experience. If you want to be 100% sure, please check directly with the IIA. Regards, Stephanie

  • Syed ahmed says:

    Hello Stephanie
    How tough will be level three pary .I am not from accounting back ground .when i see most of the job ads are need CPA with cia or ca with cia how much accounting part required in audit field on job also
    Presently I work for HSBC In compliance and payments operations. Si I am bit in diallema if I pass also will I get job or not please advise

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Syed,
      With a compliance background, the CIA exam should be the easiest for you (in theory at least) because you have a good intuition from the job. The CIA exam is probably the most theoretical among the accounting qualifications — this is good news for some candidates but not the other.

      For you, the good news is that there is close to none in terms of computational questions. You still need a basic accounting background (not practical, but theoretical) but it is much easier than say the CPA exam. Part 3 would be tougher though because they test candidates with questions from a much broader topic. You might want to sign up for a free trial of the review courses and take a quick look, and decide if it’s doable. Good luck! Stephanie

  • Zaigum Mahmood says:

    Hello i am CA Finalsit with ICAP and have completed my articles fof 3.5 years with one of Big four firms. I am intermediate and not bechelor degree holder. Can i be eligible for CIA exam?

  • Nasipi says:

    Today I finally passed my Part 3. I failed in Feb 2018 after that I found this website.

    The people here are so supportive. It was just like having an online cheerleader. I am so grateful to everyone who has shaired their experiences. I used Gleim and the IIA Practice Guides.

    I am so over the moon

  • HP says:

    I created an ID last year – 2029304

    I want to know the following details:-

    1. Am i a member of IIA?, If not what is the process for applying membership
    2. What is the process of appearing for level-1 CIA examination?

  • xamse says:

    If I have Bachelor degree of accounting and finace, how many years takes me cia

    • Meghan D says:

      You could pass all the exams in as little as 90 days, depending on how long you need to study and how familiar you are with the material.

      Before you can call yourself certified, you’ll need to meet the experience requirement.

      Kind regards,

  • >