Taking the journey: how certification sharpens your auditing skills and creates opportunities.

 
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The journey metaphor is an apt analogy for certification. That's because every step of the process provides a learning experience that will directly enhance your auditing career. Whether pursuing any one of The IIA's five auditing certifications --such as the global industry-standard Certified Internal Auditor[R] (CIA[R]) designation--you'll emerge with stronger skills, deeper knowledge and a renewed respect for your profession.

Just ask Stephan Noppes, manager of internal controls at Philip Morris International in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2013, he was part of a group of 15 company employees who decided the only way to motivate other colleagues to pursue CIA certification was to lead by example. Throughout the year-long process, the group met to discuss potential exam questions and encourage each other.

"Certification is an excellent way to learn the rules of the auditing profession and then apply (that knowledge) to day-to-day business operations," said Noppes. "I think it provides a theoretical perspective--bound by rules--for business in a broader context."

Along with PMI's strong commitment to certification, what set these employees up for success was the global company's willingness to leverage resources to ensure employees were thoroughly prepared for the exams. Most notably, the company participated in instructor-led courses provided by The 11 A's CIA Learning System[R]. And according to Noppes, along with support from internal company leadership, this on-site instruction was key to the group's high exam pass-rate.

Creating Opportunities

While becoming certified doesn't guarantee career success, it doesn't hurt either. A 2013 study by The IIA found the median salary of auditors who held the CIA designation is up to 40 percent higher than those without the certification. That alone is enough to make many auditors stop and reconsider. It certainly was for Seth Peterson, senior audit manager with MetaBank in Sioux Falls, S.D., who holds multiple IIA certifications.

"Having a certification in itself does not make you a better auditor, but it does create some opportunities. It helps demonstrate your commitment to the profession, the company, and your investment in yourself," explained Peterson. "Certifications can help your chances for promotions, and gain creditability with management, regulators, and external auditors."

Learning the System

Of course, successfully earning a certification requires focus and discipline. And lots of...

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