Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) Vs. CPA

May 31, 2020

Comparing Certified Internal Auditors (CIAs) to CPAs

Certified Internal Auditors (CIAs) and CPAs (Certified Public Accountants) both work with financial documentation. They have similar training requirements but their primary focus differs. While CIAs may identify and investigate fraud or financial abuses, CPAs typically focus more on preparing financial documents and maintaining records.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2020)* Job Outlook (2018-2028)**
Certified Internal Auditors Bachelor's degree, certification $58,800 (internal auditor) 6% (accountants and auditors)
CPAs Bachelor's degree, certification $66,287 6% (accountants and auditors)

Sources: *; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Certified Internal Auditors vs. CPAs

Certified Internal Auditors and CPAs work in comparable environments and both spend a great deal of time reviewing and preparing financial documents. CIAs are responsible for evaluating all financial data related to a company or client. Their objective is to identify financial abuses or mismanagement. They may also prepare proposals for how to increase revenue by eliminating unnecessary expenses. CPAs tend to focus on producing financial reports and tax-related documents.

Certified Internal Auditors

In order to become a CIA it's necessary to have a bachelor's degree, at least two years of practical experience in internal auditing and to pass the exam. Certified Internal Auditors primarily work in an office and may be employed by companies in a wide range of fields. Their main objective is to ensure that a company's money is being managed and used properly. They need to be detail-oriented and thorough so that they can identify potential issues with company finances.

Job responsibilities of a CIA include:

  • Assessing financial documents
  • Identifying potential discrepancies
  • Ensuring financial documents follow applicable regulations
  • Investigating potential corporate fraud


The typical requirements to become a CPA include earning a 150-hour bachelor's degree or master's degree, passing a national exam, and meeting any additional state requirements. Certified Public Accountants may work in finance or be employed by the government or accounting firms. Some work from home while others work in an office environment. Travel is sometimes required if they have multiple clients, and overtime is common when taxes are due or when companies are nearing their fiscal new year. Their main responsibility is to prepare financial records for their employer or clients.

Job responsibilities of a CPA include:

  • Reviewing financial records
  • Completing tax documents
  • Updating financial documents
  • Determining how to increase profits

Related Careers

Those interested in a career as a Certified Internal Auditor or CPA may also be interested in applying their financial knowledge to a career as a fraud examiner or certified financial analyst. Learn more about these careers by following the links provided below.

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