DEFINITION of 'Certified Internal Auditor - CIA'

Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) is a certification offered to accountants who conduct internal audits. The Certified Internal Auditor designation is conferred by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) and is the only such credential that is accepted worldwide.

CIAs usually work in the audit department of government agencies, financial institutions or corporations. They review financial records to look for deficiencies in internal controls.

BREAKING DOWN 'Certified Internal Auditor - CIA'

Accountants seeking the CIA certification are required to get a bachelor’s degree and have no less than two years work experience. They must have at least two years of work experience in a field related to internal auditing, such as internal control, compliance and quality assurance.

CIAs have a wide range of career options. A CIA can move into an executive position, such vice president, chief audit executive or director. A CIA can specialize as an internal auditor, an audit manager, a compliance auditor, investigation auditing and information technology auditing.

Typically subject to a code of ethics, an example of internal auditors not adhering to that code is the Lehman Brothers scandal in 2008. Executives received high salaries despite the financial challenges the company experienced. In addition, inadequate internal controls allowed the accounting system to be manipulated by reporting fabricated numbers in the balance sheets. The actions were illegal, unethical, biased and unprofessional and violated the CIA code of ethics.


Fraud detection and control assessment are the basic components of internal auditing. Auditing techniques and control methods from England migrated to the United States during the Industrial Revolution. In the 20th century, auditors' reporting practices and testing methods were standardized.

The IIA launched in 1941 and solidified the internal audit practice as a profession. In 1950, Congress required that each executive agency include internal audits in the agency's system of internal controls. Internal auditing emerged as a separate accounting function in the middle of the 20th century.

In 1977, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act completely overhauled the internal auditing industry. The act prevented companies from hiding funds and conducting bribery. The act required companies to keep adequate systems of internal control and keep complete and correct financial records.


The hiring of auditors is projected to grow 11% from 2014 to 2024. Due to changes in legislation regarding financial reporting, corporate taxes, and mergers and acquisitions, an increase in the demand for auditors and a need for increased accountability to protect organizations and their stakeholders is certain. The role of auditors continues to change, which is going to drive job growth in the industry. In addition, succession planning, retirement and employee turnover will produce new job openings in the industry. Companies and government agencies will continue to hire internal auditors to strengthen internal controls.

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