Welcome to the I’ve-never-been-so-disappointed-with-commercials-in-my-life edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a future Big 4 auditor is thisclose to finishing up the CPA and is worried that his summer won’t be sufficiently ruined without an exam to study for. Is hitting the books for a Certified Internal Auditor badge the answer?
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Back to our glutton for punishment:
I keep going back and forth on whether or not to go for another certification. This month I’m studying for, and taking, the last section of the CPA exam. I’m starting an auditing gig at a Big 4 firm this Fall. With no CPA exam to ruin my life this summer, I’ve considered ruining it by studying for a new exam, specifically the CIA.
I’ll have the required work experience for the certification as of June 2011, so my first set of biz cards would be able to read “Indentured Servant, CIA” right out of the gate, with it being updated to “Indentured Servant, CPA, CIA” in 2012, just in time for the world to end.
The CIA exam is cheaper than the CPA and probably easier at this point. Plus, everyone would think I worked for the CIA. Should I take the exams, or get a life that will be ripped away from me in a few months?
Dear Indentured Servant,
I think a more appropriate pseudonym for you might be “Auditing Overachiever” or “Don’t Know What to Do with Myself” OR “Prefers Books About Auditing as Opposed to Interacting with Humans, Even Those Who Might Want to Have Sex with Me.” NEVERTHELESS, I’m here to help.
Your letter is a little confusing but I’ll try to piece things together. Your job starts in the fall but you’ll have enough work experience (24 months) to obtain a CIA in June so that can only mean that you’ve been an auditor for awhile. It also means this new Big 4 gig is fresh start for you in some way, shape or form since you’ll effectively be a new hire. Making those assumptions, I’m not really sure what the CIA will do for you as a Big 4 auditor. Yes, having a extra credential is nice but it likely won’t mean squat to your co-workers, partners or clients and it won’t make you any extra money. Plus, as far as I can tell, the superficial motivation behind this endeavor – paraphrasing your words – is A) “I want to ruin my summer” B) “it’s cheaper than the CPA” C) “people will think I’m a spy.”
My response to these is A) What’s wrong with you? B) How is spending more money “cheaper”? C) No, they won’t.
See why I’m confused? The underlying motivation – if i can put you on the couch for a sec – is that you’re worried about being bored. Are you completely incapable of enjoying a summer if it doesn’t involve being indoors with your nose in a book? Take a vacation, take a staycation or do nothing but study for an exam that will get you an obscure certification? In my opinion, there’s extremely limited upside to the CIA at this point in your career so do yourself a favor, finish your CPA and give the certifications a rest for awhile. They’ll always be there for when the disappointment of the world NOT ending in 2012 gets you down.
In other words – get a life, dude.
This is the fourth in our series on certifications for accountants. Previously, we’ve covered the CFP, CMA, and CFE so if you’re not sure what you want to be when you grow up, be sure to check those out.
So, what’s the CIA all about?
CIA candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree. Unlike the CPA exam, which often requires certain coursework or a minimum master’s level education in accounting, the CIA certification has no such requirements. The CIA exam is administered year-round by the Institute of Internal Auditors.
Those interested in pursuing a CIA designation must have at least 24 months (2 years) professional experience in internal auditing or its equivalent. Equivalent experience would be in the areas audit/assessment disciplines, including external auditing, quality assurance, compliance, and internal control. Candidates with a master’s degree can substitute their degree for one year of experience. Candidates may sit for the CIA exam before satisfying the experience requirement but will not be certified until meeting this requirement.
Certified Internal Auditors can be in public or private industry and experience a diverse workload checking controls, planning the audit process for their company, testing, and compiling reports. Internal auditors may also give feedback on management policies and procedures based on their findings.
Compensation and Other Benefits
CIAs can expect to make a median yearly salary of $55k freshly certified and around $100k with 20 years of experience, making it a cozy career choice for auditors (Payscale). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, growth in auditing and accounting positions is expected to rise 18% between 2006 and 2016, which gives CIAs a certain level of job security not seen in other industries. Equally important, executive responsibility attached to Sarbanes-Oxley means CIAs are that much more critical to an organization by isolating incidents of fraud or waste.
Obviously, CIAs are not in it for the money but for fraud-fighters who love information systems, technology and auditing, the CIA is a safe, always-in-need designation worth looking into!