A Certified Information Security Systems Professional (CISSP) Certification helps show that you can design, create, and run information security programs. It also helps you achieve more experience in information security, so anyone considering a career in this field should also consider getting one. Remember that you will need to pass a difficult exam and plenty of employment experience to obtain a CISSP Certification.

Nonetheless, you can expect job growth and a higher salary with a CISSP certification under your belt. In fact, a career in information security can pay as high as $103,000 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In May 2020, the median pay for an information security analyst was $103,590 a year, at $49.80 an hour.  Even more impressive is that, in a world growing more and more digital, experts expect the information security field to grow 33% in the next ten years. As of now, it is the fastest-growing career field in the world. 

Is the CISSP exam difficult?

The CISSP is a highly regarded certification that requires five years’ experience before taking it. You can expect a certain level of difficulty if you need that much prerequisite knowledge. Although the percentage of candidates that pass the exam isn’t widely known, we can assume that less than half of candidates pass.  The CISSP exam tests your deep knowledge of the following eight areas:

Security and Risk Management
Asset Security
Security Architecture and Engineering
Communications and Network Security
Identity and Access Management
Security Assessment and Testing
Security Operations
Software Development Security

With that much information to cover, it could also take a long time to prepare for the exam. For several months or even a couple of years, you can do independent study or attend classes or seminars to prepare. Your personal experience can do wonders for preparing you, so you might not need as much independent study in some cases. Put together a proper study plan. Figure out your strengths and weaknesses in your field and improve your weaknesses.  Remember that the exam isn’t something you can cram for. Preparing for the exam helps you remember key pieces of information you can implement across your career. You can only successfully pass if you focus on what you don’t know and think critically about each question.

Who qualifies for a CISSP certification?

As mentioned, you need five years’ experience as a security analyst to take the CISSP exam. Students and college graduates may qualify for the exam if their credits are ISC (Systems Security Certification Consortium) approved. 

How many people currently have a CISSP certification?

Over 140,000 people globally have a CISSP certification.

Does a CISSP certification salary vary from state to state?

Depending on where you live, your salary with a CISSP certification can change. Larger metropolitan areas, such as Washington D.C., Los Angeles, or Chicago, for example, may offer the highest salaries available in the United States. You might earn the absolute highest CISSP certification salary working in California, which can pay over $140,000 annually.

Does a CISSP certification salary vary based on experience?

Yes. An entry-level security analyst’s CISSP certification salary might be $60,900 a year, which will steadily increase with their experience.  You will also have a different salary based on where you are employed. The government or the military might pay a lower-range compensation, whereas private companies might pay slightly more. Neither one goes above the current median wage of $103,000. 

How often does the CISSP exam material change?

The CISSP exam gets updated every three years to keep up with changes in technology and information security protocol changes. These changes are usually small, though you may consider updating your study materials if you have an extended study plan for the CISSP exam.

Frequently Asked Questions about CISSP Certification Salary

Now that you understand the x’s and o’s of the boost the CISSP certification offers to your salary, let’s delve deeper into more specific questions.

How much does a CISSP boost your salary?

On average, someone with a CISSP certification can expect at least a 20% salary increase. With the skills and experience needed to earn a CISSP certification, you can expect increased chances of promotion and other long-term career benefits.

Which earns more salary: CISSP or CISA?

When talking about a CISSP or a CISA, it comes down to what your career focus is. A quick summary: CISA stands for Certified Information Systems Auditor. Your CISA score shows your ability to plan and execute audits using a risk-based approach, as well as incorporating privacy into technological platforms, processes, and products. You perform all this with the intent of enhancing customers’ trust in business’ privacy abilities. On the other hand, a CISSP would be for someone working strictly in information security.  You would help protect a company’s private information by analyzing their security needs, explaining any present security issues, and coming up with solutions to those issues. You would need skills in network security system design, telecommunication, cryptographic protocols, and disaster recovery protocol, among other things.  

 

The CISA certification website claims that you will earn a 22% salary increase, and preparing for one can show a 70% increase in on-the-job performance. If someone with a CISSP can make up to $120,000 a year, then someone with a CISA can make roughly $122,000 a year.  Although the information security industry highly values both certifications, the main reason to get either certificate is your focus. If you want to focus on implementing security measures for businesses, a CISSP is the one to go with. A CISA is best if you are going to audit IT systems. 

 

Whichever your focus is, though, that doesn’t mean that you should completely exclude one exam. For example, you can take the CISSP exam and then add the CISA later. As you develop your skills in the information security industry, you can add certifications to increase your job longevity and open up new career opportunities.  Whichever certification you have on your resume will significantly increase your chances of employment, so don’t think that one is technically more valuable.