Becoming a Certified Internal Auditor

Explore a Career as an Internal Auditor

Among the variety of accounting careers, the role of a certified internal auditor is an exceedingly vital position because of the responsibility to monitor a company’s financial records for accuracy. According to accounting career information found on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, growth in accounting employment is anticipated to be approximately 16 percent above last year, which is slightly above average for employment in the United States.

Learn About the Job Responsibilities of an Internal Auditor

Certified internal auditors (CIAs) work within an organization such as government departments or private businesses to examine financial records for accuracy and mismanagement. Other types of work performed by CIAs, as listed by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, include:

  • observing industry trends
  • tracking revenues and expenditures
  • making efficiency recommendations
  • offering financial planning recommendations to upper management

One specific branch of internal auditing is in information technology. Accountants in these positions will combine their background experience in accounting and computer technology to asses IT managements risks and security . They review controls for an organization’s financial computer records systems, evaluating and analyzing financial data and ensuring it is gathered from reliable computer sources. Information technology internal auditors also frequently analyze computer security regarding financial record keeping.

Internal Auditor Education Opportunities

Like many careers in accounting, the minimum education requirement for certified internal auditors is an undergraduate degree in accounting, finance or business administration. Internal auditing is an accounting major that several universities now offer and may provide an advantage for job applicants over applicants with a general accounting degree.

Individuals seeking advancement may also consider earning a graduate degree in finance or accounting. Many employers require an MBA for management-level financial positions. Additionally, employers tend to look favorably upon job applicants with an MBA based on the training this degree requires.

Learn About the Licensing and Certification Requirements for Internal Auditors

Licensing as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is not required for most internal auditor positions. Many employers, however, favor CPA certification, since it requires passing four rigorous exams. Qualification to sit for the CPA exam requires additional education beyond the standard undergraduate accounting degree. Additionally, CPA certification requires continuing education.

Additionally, The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) offers advanced certification for auditors. To qualify for the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), candidates must graduate from an accredited university or college, have two years of work experience as an internal auditor and must pass a four-part test. Other forms of certification offered by the IIA include:

  • Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP)
  • Certification in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA)
  • Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA)

For accounting auditors specializing in information technology, the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) offers certification as a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA). Candidates for this certification must have five years of experience in auditing information systems and pass an examination. Experience financial, operational auditing or information systems and related college credit can be substituted for no more than two years of work experience in the field of information systems security, control or auditing.

Explore Advancement Opportunities as an Internal Auditor

Many entry level certified internal auditors advance in their job positions within one to two years. Advancing further into senior internal auditor positions often occurs within five years for accountants who do well. Individuals who move into senior management positions can become mangers, supervisors or partners in an accounting firm. They may also decide to open their own public accounting firm or consulting organization.

For individuals who want to advance in the accounting field, earning an MBA provides opportunities to move into higher management positions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals with an MBA can potentially move into top executive positions.

Financial Outlook for Internal Auditing Positions

According to accounting career information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), entry level certified internal auditors earned about $45,220 as of May 2020, which represents the profession’s lower 10%. At the median level, internal auditors earned $73,560 during this time, while those with extensive experience and an MBA in accounting or finance earned salaries that closer reflected the 75th – 90th percentile as of May 2020, or about $97,530 – $128,680.

If you are considering careers in accounting, earning an undergraduate degree in accounting, finance or auditing is a major initial stepping stone in your career. Becoming certified as a CPA and Certified Internal Auditor will provide you with more employment opportunities and options for advancement, as will earning an MBA.

May 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and job market trends for accountants and auditors represent national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data Accessed May 2021.