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CISA vs. CIA: What’s The Difference And Which Is Better For You?

Mar 08, 20205 mins readAmit Masih
CISA vs. CIA: What’s The Difference And Which Is Better For You?

As a working professional for career advancement and success, reputable certification courses are the first option that strikes your mind. You feel desperate to move ahead.

However, it is necessary to plan as your entire future is dependent on it. 

Several industry-specific international certifications are available, making it difficult for you to decide which one to select. Preparing for certification exams requires you to invest money and time.

So it becomes essential to determine carefully which certification to opt for as per your career goals.

It gives rise to many questions, such as CISA vs. CIA, which should I go with? Should I opt for both certifications? Which one will be the most beneficial? 

Let me clear one thing. Both of these certifications hold immense value in the industry. If you know the difference between them, it would be easier for you to select the best one as per your requirement.

Difference between CISA and CIA

CISA – Certified Information Systems Auditor

ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association) offers and is a globally-recognized certification that targets professionals associated with information systems audit, control, and security. 

Many occupations in IT audit, IT security, IT governance, and risk management have made CISA certification mandatory during the hiring process. The certified auditors are skilled in assessing and evaluating IT controls. It is quite difficult to pass the exam, and the exam pass rate is quite low.

However, it has increased over the years due to various study resources being made available for preparation.

Read more: A Beginner-friendly Guide to CISA Certification CISA Exam Day Rules

CIA – Certified Internal Auditor

The Institute of Internal Auditors offers it with the primary aim to provide dynamic leadership globally in the internal auditing profession.

It showcases your urge to perform brilliantly in the profession. The primary focus of this certification is to effectively manage the internal audit projects and work on concepts related to internal risk, control, governance, and technology.

It helps you stand ahead of your competitors, help showcase your proficiency, and act as a base certificate for further career growth and improvement. You can apply for the job of an internal auditor practitioner and in no time can exhibit your expertise in internal audit.

Exam Domains


  • Information systems auditing process (21%)
  • Governance and Management of IT (17%)
  • Information systems acquisition, development, and implementation (12%)
  • Information systems operations and business resilience (23%)
  • Protection of information assets (27%)


It consists of three parts, each further divided into subdomains.

  • Part 1 – Essentials of Internal Auditing
  • Foundation of internal auditing
  • Independence and objectivity
  • Proficiency and due professional care
  • Quality assurance and improvement programs
  • Governance, risk management, and control
  • Fraud risk

Part 2 – Practice of Internal Auditing

  • Managing the internal audit activity
  • Planning the engagement
  • Performing the engagement
  • Communicating engagement results and monitoring progress

Part 3 – Business Knowledge for Internal Auditing

  • Business acumen
  • Information security
  • Information technology
  • Financial management

CISA vs. CIA: Which is Better?

CISA certification is for specialists, and CIA is for generalists.

To apply for CISA certification, you have to pass the exam and have a full-time work experience of 4000 hours in the information systems, controls, and security field.

Read more about CISA Certification Eligibility Criteria.

CIA certification requires you to have work experience of 5 to 7 years if applying for senior-level job roles. Else a graduation degree in accounting or finance with a year of work experience as an auditor is enough.

Exam & Certification Eligibility 

CISA – There is one exam of 150 multiple-choice questions. Once you pass the exam, you must have at least five years of work experience in IS auditing, control, or security to apply for the certification that remains valid for three years.

Also, to maintain your certificate, you need to pay an annual maintenance fee and earn a minimum of 20 contact CPE (Continuing Professional Education) hours every year and 120 contact hours during three years.

CIA – There are three exams associated with this certification as it covers internal auditing and IT at a broader level. Also, you must pass all three exams within four years of passing the first exam to get certified.

In both cases, you need to adhere to the code of professional ethics that showcases your professionalism and ethical behavior in the corporate world.

Can both CISA and CIA be taken together?

CISA specialization combined with CIA holds an immense value. CIA requires more in-depth preparation than CISA. If you have already passed or appeared for the CIA, you can easily pass the CISA exam. However, you must keep in mind your career goals. If you want to be an IT auditor, go for CISA, not CIA.

Also, a CISA certified professional earns more than a CIA. But the compensation that you receive also depends upon the company, industry, and your designation.

The Final Words

It is a dream of every professional to prosper in their chosen field to lead a better life. These certifications can help shape your career and upgrade your knowledge to fulfill your career goals. These certifications allow you to enhance your skills per the industry standards to stay ahead of the competition and increase your chances of getting hired. 

Whether CISA or CIA, it is recommended to select the appropriate certification that matches your job profile to reap maximum benefits out of it.

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