CIA Exam Pass Rates – How Hard Is It?

Updated: May 23, 2023 You’re our #1 priority.
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The organization that conducts the CIA exam and awards certification to those who pass it is called the Institute of Internal Auditors, or the IIA for short. On their website, the IIA has statistics on the pass rate for the CIA exam over the last four years. From 2014 to 2017, the average pass rate for this exam was around 40% or just over ⅓.

This small factoid has some intimidating implications. Compare the CIA exam pass rates with those of the CPA exam; over the last 10 or so years, the average pass rate for the CPA was closer to 50%.

What does this mean? If you thought the CPA exam was tough, the CIA exam is going to blow you away.

Part of the reason for this difference is pass rates between these two courses is the educational requirements that need to be fulfilled before taking each one. While qualifying to take the CPA exam requires around 5 years of accounting-related education, the CIA exam can be taken by individuals with only an Associate’s degree, provided they have enough work experience.

It makes sense that an exam that requires a greater level of education to take would result in a higher pass rate. Logically speaking, an individual who devotes more time and energy in the pursuit of a career would be more likely to overcome challenging hurdles when compared to someone who has put in fewer hours.

That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of supplementary educational resources like a CIA prep program before taking the exam. The best way to ensure you successfully achieving certification is to devote more time to studying and understanding the exam’s material.

Certified Internal Auditor Careers

After learning the terrifyingly low pass rate for the CIA exam, it can be tempting to give up on your aspirations and plan on pursuing a different career path. While I can’t stop you from doing so, here’s one big reason why you shouldn’t:

Internal auditors make a lot of money.

According to cumulative data on employee salaries, the absolute lowest starting salary for an internal auditor is around $60,000. The highest salaries are double that, in the range of $120,000. There’s a considerable amount of demand for internal auditors, with projections stating that this demand is only going to increase over the next 5 years.

After looking at these numbers and imagining the potential size of your paycheck, it must be a lot more appealing to take that CIA exam now. If you’re still worried about your chances of passing, here’s some more good news: we’ve got lots of helpful information to help you study for the exam and CRUSH the CIA!

Passing The CIA Exam

Becoming a Certified Internal Auditor isn’t easy. If it was, everybody would do it.

Part of the reason why the CIA certification comes with such high acclaim is that it takes a great deal of knowledge and discipline in order to earn one. It’s a key reason why businesses with so much value will trust the judgement of a CIA certified auditor and take their advice to heart, even if it requires them to turn their entire organization upside down.

Sounds like a great career choice, right?

It’s true that achieving this certification is a fantastic career move, but it requires a considerable amount of effort. In order to properly illustrate just how much work is needed, here are some statistics related to the CIA exam and the implications it can have on your future.


Bryce Welker, CPA

Bryce Welker is a regular contributor to Forbes,, YEC and Business Insider. After graduating from San Diego State University he went on to earn his Certified Public Accountant license and created to share his knowledge and experience to help other accountants become CPAs too. Bryce was named one of Accounting Today’s “Accountants To Watch” among other accolades.   As Seen On Forbes