CISA vs CISSP vs CISM Career Comparison

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.



It is a good idea to obtain some sort of certification if you work in information security or are considering doing so. Depends on a number of variables which one you get first. Others experience both. It doesn’t matter in what order you earn them; the majority of people get their CISSP first and their CISM second. Here are a few additional elements that could influence your choice:

  • The salaries for the two qualifications are comparable.
  • LinkedIn lists 8,906 CISM job openings.
  • On LinkedIn, there are 21,714 CISSP job openings.

Both the CISM and CISSP require a specific number of CPE credits to keep your certification current. You can obtain CPE credits in a number of methods, including by participating in cybersecurity-related webinars, conferences, or regional CISSP or CISM meetings. Volunteering at select cybersecurity events and coaching other members are additional ways to gain credits. When deciding which path to take, you should familiarize yourself with the guidelines for CISM and CISSP and get ready to commit to maintaining your certification.

Varonis offers free security training, including a number of CPE-eligible video courses on a variety of subjects, from Troy Hunt’s Web Security Fundamentals to Adam Bertram’s PowerShell and Active Directory Essentials. Throughout the year, we also host CPE-eligible webinars on topics like insider threats, GDPR compliance, HIPAA compliance, Office 365 Security Best Practices, securing Active Directory, and others.

What are your long-term career goals? is arguably the most crucial question you need to ask. Are you aiming to work as an infosec executive or CISO? You ought to research CISM. Do you intend to work as a security engineer for a very long time? The CISSP may be a wiser choice. It’s not unusual to obtain one certification and finish the other afterwards.

Whichever certification you decide to seek, you will be doing yourself and your infosec career a world of good. Both choices present opportunities for pay raises, job changes, and fresh challenges in the workplace. You can be sure that choosing to start with CISM or CISSP is a wise career move.


The CISSP and CISA certifications both advance your security expertise and can benefit in your employment search. A candidate with either qualification would be highly prized given the rising amount of cyberattacks. Both the CISSP and the CISA are essential for verifying your IT security credentials because they are vendor-neutral certifications. While there are undoubtedly some parallels between the two, each certification has a different focus.

But the degree of difficulty of the exams for the two credentials is quite similar. In order to decide which one is best for you, we’ll examine both the CISA and the CISSP. After all, you want to take the exam that corresponds the most with the tasks you perform on a daily basis. This essay will also go over who needs to obtain each certification, as well as the key distinctions and similarities between the two.

Which certification is better for you?

The CISA is primarily focused on IT system audits, whereas the CISSP, or Certified Information Systems Security Professional, is mostly focused on information security. Certified Information System Auditor is referred to as CISA. CISA is overseen by ISACA, whereas (ISC)2 is in charge of the CISSP. The CISSP concentrates on eight of the domains, compared to the CISA’s five.

It would be advisable to obtain a CISA if you work as a professional IT auditor. It may be advantageous to obtain the CISSP if you work in IT cybersecurity. Selecting which certification to get, though, can be a little more complicated than that, just like with everything else in life.

Both certifications have an annual price attached to them, which is a drawback. The CISSP costs a staggering $125 each year, compared to the CISA’s $45 fee. A pro linked with both certifications is that they are both certified by the United States government. So either of these certificates is a good choice if you want to work for the government.

The CISSP is typically seen as being the harder certification to obtain out of the two. Additionally, it is far more expensive. Let’s begin by exploring the CISSP in greater detail and determining whether it is the appropriate choice for you.


Both certifications have very high average wages. However, CISA frequently receives a lower compensation package than CISSP.

According to PayScale, the average annual pay for a CISSP certification is $107,000, while the average annual salary for a CISA certification is $99,000.

What is CISSP?

CISSP Certification

Possibly the most prestigious IT security certification available is the CISSP. That is not exaggeration; the CISSP is a highly coveted certification. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the growth of cybersecurity jobs will be 31% through 2029. This implies that a candidate who has the CISSP on their resume would be a lock for the position. Even while the CISSP is an excellent certification to have, a junior software developer or data analyst might not find much use for it.

The CISSP is designed with IT security experts and their managers in mind. In fact, it is an absolute must if your daily tasks even hint towards security. Your chances of finding a new job or being promoted at your existing company will significantly rise if you obtain a CISSP. But bear in mind that five years of professional experience are necessary for the CISSP. So you might want to put off taking the exam for now if you are new to IT security. Now that we know who the certification is for, let’s talk about the specifics, like cost and level of difficulty.

The CISSP is both prestigious and challenging. The exam has about 125 questions and lasts about four hours to complete (but you are given six hours). The following eight domains must be addressed by a test-taking applicant:

  • Risk and Security Management
  • Asset Protection
  • Security Engineering and Architecture
  • Network and Communication Security
  • Identification and Access Control
  • Security Testing and Assessment
  • Security Procedures
  • Security in Software Development

A applicant must also pass the exam and have at least five years of experience in a sector linked to cyber security. Additionally, the candidate needs to have the endorsement of a (ISC)2 certification holder in good standing. Let’s speak about how the certification will impact your bottom line now that we’ve covered the certification’s prerequisites.

The CISSP exam costs an outrageous $700. Later, you’ll observe that the CISA is significantly smaller. Do not allow the cost deter you from pursuing your goals because the CISSP pay is above $125,000 year. A $700 price tag might not be too much to complain about with such a good wage. It’s also important to note that most employers are willing to pay their staff members who take the exam. Let’s now examine the CISA.

What is CISA?

Best CISA Exam Prep

If you make a living out of IT audits, the CISA certification is for you. The CISA places a strong emphasis on inspecting IT systems and ensuring that businesses uphold best practices for data governance. Most people who perform extensive audits or forensics on corporate IT systems are candidates for a CISA certification. A CISA will unquestionably be useful to investigators of fraud and other online criminal conduct.

A candidate seeking for a managerial job would considerably profit from acquiring this certification, just like they would from the CISSP. Therefore, obtaining a CISA has obvious advantages, but how challenging is the certification process? Let’s investigate.

Although by no means simple, the CISA is typically regarded as less difficult than the CISSP. The following five domains are covered by the CISA:

  • Processing and Auditing of Information Systems
  • IT Governing and Management
  • IS Development, Acquisition, and Implementation
  • Resilience in business and IS Operations
  • Asset Protection for Information

As you can see, the CISA has significantly fewer domains than the CISSP. Furthermore, the domains covered by the various certifications overlap significantly. It is obvious that CISA covers all key information system auditing goals, but the CISSP is more concerned with design and architectural implementation.

The cost of the CISA certification is significantly lower than the CISSP. For ISACA members, the CISA is only $415; for non-members, it is $575. While that might seem pricey, the good news is that a CISA-certified professional often earns well over $100,000 annually. A $575 exam cost doesn’t seem too much after all with such a big wage.

There are many more conditions that ISACA places on its applicants, though passing the exam may be the biggest barrier to receiving the certification. To begin with, and similarly to the CISSP, ISACA mandates that a CISA applicant have a minimum of five years of professional experience. It is significant to note that a variety of waivers are available that can shorten the amount of time spent in the field. For instance, the wait requirement might be reduced by two years with a Master’s degree in an IT-related subject.

ISACA wants to make sure that those who hold their certificates are the absolute finest in their profession. A certificate is only as valuable as the individuals who have it, after all. All CISA-certified members must continue their education because of this requirement from ISACA. This is referred to as CPE (Continuous Profession Enhancement) hours. Every year, CISA holders must complete at least 20 hours of CPE.

Fortunately, ISACA makes this simple and offers a variety of solutions to meet these requirements. For instance, a certificate holder may attend a conference or training session that has been sanctioned by ISACA. CPE time will be recorded for this.

What is CISM?

The CISM stands for Certified Information Security Manager.

A person who holds the advanced certification of Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) has the skills and knowledge necessary to create and oversee an infosec program for an organization.

ISACA, a nonprofit, independent organization that represents experts in information security, assurance, risk management, and governance, offers the CISM program.

How to become a CISM?

In order to become certified as a CISM, candidates must complete a 150-question multiple-choice exam with a passing score of 450. This exam is part of the CISM certification process and is assessed using a 200–800 scaled scoring approach.

Four subject areas are covered in the test:

Candidates must have at least three years of infosec management experience in three or more of the CISM content areas, as well as five years of verified experience in the infosec industry, in order to be eligible to take the exam. Experience must be obtained within five years after passing the exam or within ten years of the application date, whichever comes first.

CISM CPE Requirements

Individuals must maintain a sufficient degree of expertise in the field of information systems security management, complete 20 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) yearly, and abide by the ISACA Code of Professional Ethics in order to keep their CISM certification.

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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James Edge

James Edge

James is on a mission to uncover the greatest study guides and prep courses to ensure you pass your exam on your first attempt. He has personally assessed hundreds of study materials and developed courses himself.

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