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Certifications Held by Internal Auditors Vary by Region, IIA Finds

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May 18th 2016
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Numerous certifications are available to accountants and financial advisors, and a new report by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) offers a look at how internal auditors globally embrace the added education that the designations indicate.

The report is based on more than 14,000 responses from internal auditors in 166 countries. Most respondents were staff auditors (44 percent), while chief audit executives comprised 26 percent of respondents.

Worldwide, 43 percent said they have at least one internal audit certification, which includes those issued by the IIA and other organizations. The main certification held is Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), which 30 percent of respondents have.

The majority (60 percent) hold a related certification that is not specific to internal audit. Most respondents (61 percent) said they get at least 40 hours of internal audit training annually.

Here’s a snapshot of how many internal auditors in different regions hold certifications.

  • Practitioners in South Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean hold the least number of internal audit certifications worldwide (23 percent and 28 percent, respectively). However, South Asia leads in non-internal audit certifications, with 77 percent. In Latin America and the Caribbean, 48 percent have those certifications.
  • In North America, 69 percent of respondents have non-internal audit certifications. The Middle East and North Africa follow closely with 68 percent.
  • Globally, North America leads in internal audit certifications with 54 percent.
  • In Europe, respondents with internal audit and non-internal audit certifications are nearly the same (47 percent with internal audit certification; 51 percent with non-internal audit certification).

Many internal audit practitioners who were interviewed for the report said language is a barrier that can hinder professionals from obtaining the CIA certification.

“They say that up-to-date study material is often lacking in local languages,” the report states. “Therefore, even though the CIA examination is offered in 18 languages, some practitioners do not have up-to-date study materials in their language to use to prepare for the exam.”

Be aware that the report addresses only IIA certifications. The IIA offers the following certifications, qualifications, and designations:

  • CIA
  • CGAP (Certified Government Auditing Professional)
  • CFSA (Certified Financial Services Auditor)
  • CCSA (Certification in Control Self-Assessment)
  • CRMA (Certification in Risk Management Assurance)
  • QIAL (Qualification in Internal Audit Leadership)
  • CPEA (Certified Professional Environmental Auditor)
  • CPSA (Certified Process Safety Auditor)

The report notes that, for this survey, the CPEA and CPSA designations were not offered to respondents as separate options because the IIA had not yet taken over administration of those programs. Instead, respondents were offered the response of “other internal audit certification.”

The CGAP, CFSA, CCSA, CRMA, and QIAL are held by 23 percent of respondents in North America and 15 percent worldwide.

In the financial sector, 13 percent of respondents in North America hold the CFSA, while 5 percent globally do.

In the public sector, the CGAP is held by 15 percent in North America, 13 percent in Europe, and 8 percent globally.

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