The CISA and CISSP certifications have more differences than similarities. Both are based on information systems, but a CISA performs mostly auditing compared to a CISSP who focuses on security issues. Since there are only a few similarities between CISA and CISSP, this review will cover those first before we dive into the differences.

The CISA and CISSP certifications both require at least 5 years of work experience. This makes it clear that neither of these certifications are a walk in the park and should not be taken lightly.

Both of them will usually land lead you a high paying job (around $100,000 per year) which makes all the effort required to obtain them worthwhile! People that pass either the CISA and CISSP usually get multiple job opportunities because there is a high job demand for people who hold those qualifications.

CISA and CISSP – The Differences

The CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) is a certification bodied by the ISC (International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium). It exists for ICT workers who are in the information security sector. So the CISSP is relevant to the IT industry and is regarded very highly for it’s usefulness in data security.

So essentially CISSP can be branded as IT security, which is very different from CISA.

CISA is an auditing certification. The letters stand for “Certified Information Systems Auditor”, and whilst CISSP and CISA include the words “information” and “systems”, CISSP comes under security, whilst CISA is used for auditing. If you are wanting a career in securing information, CISSP is what you want. But if you’re more inclined towards auditing work, then you should go with CISA.

The CISA is regarded as the much less technical of the two exams, whereas the CISSP is generally thought of as a tough challenge for even the most experienced of IT pros.

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CISA Vs CISSP Salary

The average salary of anyone who has either one of these certifications is very high, however, CISA certification holders are slightly higher. The average for someone who passed the CISA exam is $96,000, whereas the average salary for a CISSP is $94,000.

CertificationCISACISSPCISA
Avg. Salary$96,000$94,000$90,000

So Which One Should You Choose?

That depends which type of job you want. If you want to audit systems and processes, then CISA is the better choice. But if you’re looking to get into general IT work or want an information security career, then you’ll getting your CISSP certification is the way to go.

CISA vs CIA

A CISA has more in common with a CIA (Certified Internal Auditor) than a CISSP. The CIA exam covers auditing in much more detail than the CISA does. It’s also broader than the CISA in terms of the sheer number of topics covered. The CIA is regarded as a harder exam to pass too, but despite all this, CISA is regarded in this industry as the “essential” qualification out of the 2, for auditing work.

Studies have also shown that CISA certification holders tend to earn more money than their CIA counterparts. CISA holders earn an average of $96,000, whereas CIA holders earn an average of $90,000, according to a 2012 study.Additionally, the CISA exam usually requires less study time to pass and is less expensive than the CIA exam.  So if in doubt, go with CISA!

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CISA vs CISM

Despite what you may have heard, the CISA and CISM exams are geared towards completely different types of workers. CISA targets IT auditors, whereas CISM is for IT security managers and information risk managers.

The CISA is regarded as the standard IT systems auditor certification, whereas CISM is an intermediate or perhaps higher level qualification for the person who wants to become an expert in information security management.

The CISA is for auditing practitioners, whereas, according to ISACA, “the CISM is for “the individual who has progressed beyond the practitioner focus, whose emphasis is no longer technical or specialist skills, and who has moved on to the management of an enterprise’s information security program.”

A CISA job description might involve finance or accounting, whereas a CISM job description could include program management or information assurance.

Despite their differences, certifications for both CISA and CISM require the individual to have accumulated 5 years of relevant experience in their field.

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Get started with a CISM certification here.

CISM Certification Training

What’s Next?

Now that you know how much money you stand to make after you pass the CISA exam, your next step is to choose the best CISA prep course to help you pass on your first attempt!


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