The Institute of Internal Auditors is updating its Certified Internal Auditor exam with more content on subjects such as cybersecurity and information technology.

The three-part CIA exam aims to test candidates’ knowledge, skills and abilities about internal audit practices. The exam dates back to 1974 and is now administered in more than 800 testing facilities in over 150 countries. Approximately 147,000 people have earned the certification.

“We go through a regular process of looking at our certifications,” said IIA chief operating officer Bill Michalisin. “The market and the profession itself continue to evolve to manage the changes the business environment is facing.”

Institute of Internal Auditors headquarters in Florida
Institute of Internal Auditors headquarters in Florida Courtesy of the IIA

To make sure the exam’s content remains current, the IIA undertook an international study, reaching out to candidates, certification holders, academics, internal audit professionals and other stakeholders to determine what kinds of knowledge, skills and abilities would be most relevant to today’s internal audit professionals. They decided to revise the exam syllabi to reflect the evolution of the internal audit profession around the world.

“We went through a fairly extensive survey that we put out to a global marketplace, looking at the knowledge base, the skill set, and abilities of the profession and the exam to meet the needs of the profession,” said Michalisin. “As we looked at the results of that survey, we found that some things were reinforced: the importance of our standards, the need to look at the independence and objectivity of internal audit as being critical to the role of the internal auditor, but also looking at the needs of doing the job of internal audit. Those continue to be validated and consistent with the exam. As we looked at the more emerging issues or topical focus of the profession, that’s where the survey hinted at some potential enhancements to the current exam. Looking more at business acumen, information security, cybersecurity, information technology and the financial management skillset of auditors was important. A lot of the improvements have been in those areas to enhance the competency and skillset of auditors who are being certified.”

The topic areas on each exam syllabus are being revised to bring them up to date and to minimize the duplication and overlap among the three exam parts and clarify the knowledge, skills and abilities needed by candidates to pass the exam.

“Since it was introduced 44 years ago, the CIA has become a globally recognized flagship certification for internal auditors,” said IIA president and CEO Richard F. Chambers in a statement. “The global business environment and the internal audit profession have undergone great change. The updated exam offers greater clarity, uniformity, and alignment with The IIA’s International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing.”

The IIA is updating its exam, as other professional organizations such as the American Institute of CPAs and the Institute of Management Accountants have also been making changes to keep their exams relevant and using the newest technology.

“I know IMA and AICPA have made some changes,” said Michalisin. “We stay in regular contact with those associations. We’re all computer-based testing. It’s a globally administered exam across our global network. We have a network of 100 institutes serving 195,000 members worldwide. We work to make ensure the exam experience is uniform and consistent across that network. We moved to computer-based testing in 2008, so that is consistent with our model today and we continue to support that.”

The updated exam is expected to be released in January 2019 in English. The IIA will work with its affiliates around the world to develop tailored plans for translating it into other languages throughout next year.

“In 2019, English will roll out first, and we are working with our various institutes in countries that we translate languages into to transition that English exam into their local languages as well,” said Michalisin. “In January 2019, English will be provided globally, and then we will transition to additional languages in the same year.”

The IIA also plans to update its training materials and courses. “Our Learning Solutions Department within the IIA has the CIA Learning System, which is a proprietary training product that’s being updated in accordance with the syllabus,” said Michalisin. “We have a number of other vendors that we work with that provide learning prep materials as well. They’re provided the same syllabus so they can give their clients access to those materials. Then we also leverage our conferences. We do a number of those every year, both in North America and globally. For our upcoming GAM [General Audit Management] conference as well as the international conference, which this year is in Dubai in May, we host CIA prep courses at those locations. Those have been updated to get candidates ready for the new exam as well.”

He anticipates the new exam will appeal to aspiring internal auditors. “What they can expect is a stronger exam that has evolved to meet their needs,” said Michalisin. “Our goal and our mission have always been to advance the profession and the professionals that serve it. I think the exam and the new CIA exam in particular are reflective of that focus and that mission.”

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