Types of Cyber Security Certifications

Dec 29, 2021

8 Min Read

This guide will discuss two certificates for cybersecurity professionals – CISA and CISSP. We’ll look at the organizations that issue them, the procedure for getting certified, and discuss the potential benefits of having the certificate. Both designations require a significant investment of time and money, so be prepared if you decide to pursue them.

Certified Information Systems Auditor certificate (also known as CISA) is a highly demanded accreditation by the market. 

Certified Information Security Systems Professional (also known as CISSP) is essential for anyone hoping to start a career in this industry.

CISA is issued by an institution called ISACA, founded in 1969. CISSP is issued by an institution called ISC. Both organizations were created to simplify information sharing of industry-related knowledge, tools, and protocols. Both organizations have given thousands of certificates to professionals all around the world.

What is CISA accreditation?

Having a CISA certificate marks an employee’s expertise in overseeing the network security and taking preventive measures once the errors are detected. To be precise, holding this certificate is proof of proficiency in the following areas of work:

  • Overseeing the security of the systems
  • Ensuring high standards of security throughout the company
  • Sourcing and Implementing new tools and solutions
  • Ensuring the safety of the network
  • Protecting the privacy of clients’ data

Most cybersecurity professionals invest time and money to get the certificate because it presents an incredible opportunity for advancement. However, the certificate itself is not easy to qualify for. Companies know that hiring a CISA certificate holder means hiring someone who has a thorough understanding of cybersecurity principles. The jobs that commonly require this certificate include network security analyst, network auditor, cybersecurity consultant, etc. 

Prerequisites for getting a CISA designation

To obtain this certificate, one must get a passing grade on the CISA test. An applicant must also have a track record of working in security roles for five or more years. Applicants must also study a set of rules (called code of ethics) and commit to following them. In some cases, an exception can be granted to candidates who have not yet accumulated five years of experience. They may be granted the certificate to provide proof of relevant formal education.

What’s the cost of taking the exam?

Depending on whether you’re a registered member of the issuing organization or not, you’ll have to pay $575 or $760 to take the exam. Of course, you’ll have to pay more if you’re not a member.

If you are an experienced security employee, the exam fee will be your only cost. It’s possible to get outside help and study for the test with an instructor, but the expenses will mount. Courses that prepare you for the CISA exam cost an estimated $1000. Still, having someone like an instructor explain these concepts helps a lot. 

If you’re confident in your network security knowledge, you can prepare using very affordable resources provided by the organization. 

You can practice by taking practice exams with questions similar to what you’d get on the actual exam. This resource will cost you $300 if you’re a member and $400 if you’re not.

The organization also offers access to the library of videos and textbook exercises that will prepare you for the CISA exam. The resource costs about twice the amount of sample tests. Other study materials like eBooks aren’t essential but very nice to have. Unfortunately, you’ll have to pay a few hundred dollars more to get them.

After obtaining the designation, CISA certificate holders must continue to pay a recurring fee to the organization, which is $45 for members and $85 for others. Certificate holders must also meet hourly requirements of continuing studies – 20 for one year and 120 over three years.

You must also account for non-material costs like time and mental effort if you’re on the fence. Still, higher salary potential is more than worth the effort. In addition, a CISA certificate is a good investment.

The process of taking an exam

To find out whether you’re ready for the CISA certification exam or not, you can take a unique quiz designed by the issuing organization. The test is available in 11 languages, English included. So if you’re reading this article, you’re safe. It comprises 150 multiple choice questions that test your knowledge of five different domains. Applicant must finish the test within 4 hours. 

Once you’re done, your raw results will be adjusted to a standard scale, adjusted for numerous factors. You can get a score between 200 and 800, 450 being a passing threshold. If you get a score above the minimum and all other conditions are met, you become eligible to receive your certificate.

Increase in compensation

CISA exam is complex, and the candidates who pass have proven their high degree of expertise. That’s why companies are always looking for and willing to hire cybersecurity professionals with a CISA certificate.

According to some estimates, senior cybersecurity specialists with CISA designation are expected to make between $100,000 and $150,000 per year. 


Anyone invested in a cybersecurity career can reap the rewards of obtaining a CISA designation. Corporations highly value the certificate, so the demand for certified professionals is high.

CISA certificate requires the candidates to sacrifice time and energy to prepare for the exam. Some people might be worried about investing so much in a certificate, but the difference in pay makes up for it. In addition, people who successfully went through the process can attest that a CISA certificate can help you take your cybersecurity career one step further.

What is CISSP accreditation?

It is an essential designation for anyone looking for a job as a cybersecurity expert. Having a certificate is proof that a professional knows how to architect, build and execute IT security measures.

Having such certificates is what differentiates average workers from high-earning professionals. CISSP certificate will raise your compensation and your overall level of expertise. Exams to obtain the certificate are challenging, but exclusivity is part of this designation’s appeal. Employers are ready to trust cybersecurity specialists with this designation and pay higher wages to attract them.

Prerequisites for getting a CISSP designation

To qualify for a CISSP certificate, you must have years of work experience, positive reviews from your colleagues, a willingness to abide by the code of ethics, and most importantly, the knowledge to pass the exam. Similarly to the CISA certificate, a candidate must have at least five years of work experience. Individuals with four-year undergraduate (or higher) degrees may be granted an exception. An individual must confirm an applicant’s abilities with a CISSP certificate. 

Arguably the most challenging obstacle to obtaining CISSP designation is the written test. Candidates have only three hours to answer all 150 questions in the trial. An applicant can get a maximum score of 1000, but 700 is enough to pass.

Professionals in security and monitoring positions can significantly benefit from having a CISSP certificate. However, not all technical experience can qualify you for the CISSP designation. ISC will check your work experience to determine its validity. If your day-to-day job responsibilities include taking care of network security somehow, then your work experience will count. 

What’s the cost of CISSP designation?

The exact cost of obtaining a CISSP designation is hard to predict. The total expenses will depend on how much training you need. The CISSP exam is challenging, so some candidates are willing to pay tutors to prepare them for the exam. Those who are confident in their knowledge don’t require much more than just looking over learning resources.

ISC organizes lectures in four different settings. Studying with a separate instructor is the costliest option, but it is also very effective. Training courses can cost up to $4,000. 

If you’re interested in more affordable options, look for CISSP study materials online. A quick search should give you dozens of books, illustrations, and other learning materials explicitly created for this purpose. Depending on which study materials you choose, you’ll have to pay between $100 and $300. Before buying any course or prep book, be sure to check the publisher or the author because some preparation materials are not up to date with current exam standards.

Obtaining a CISSP certificate is a significant monetary investment, but don’t forget that you’re also investing time and effort as well. Also, don’t forget that obtaining a certificate will open up many doors and immensely help you advance your cybersecurity career. 

Individuals with a CISSP certificate must continue to demonstrate their qualification by showing proof of 120 hours of education every three years. Certified professionals must also pay $125 for the same period used to modify and update the test.  

The process of taking an exam

To take an exam, you must pay a non-refundable fee of $700. Some expensive training programs also include a voucher for this test. In addition, the candidates must answer questions organized in CAT format, which means that the applicant gets the questions based on their past performance. 

The test contains over 100 questions, which touch on eight core domains. Most questions are multiple-choice, but there are exceptions. The applicants have to select an answer for all questions within the three-hour limit. However, the test is not extremely difficult. According to rumors, more than half the people who take the test successfully pass it.

If you fail on your first try, you must wait at least one month before retaking the test. If you fail again, you must wait at least two months. According to the organization rules, Each applicant is limited to four attempts in one calendar year.

Increase in compensation

CISSP has the most significant potential to increase your pay and career prospects of all cybersecurity certificates. The organization that issues the certificate has conducted a study that revealed the average compensation of professionals with this designation – $131,000. The demand for highly qualified cybersecurity workers will always be high, and the wages will go up as well. The need for network security experts will go up by 30% throughout the next decade.

Cybersecurity professionals are highly coveted by government institutions as well. The good news is that the US government recognizes CISSP, so it will likely increase your chances of landing a federal job. 

Even if you plan to continue your career outside the US, you’ll find that the CISSP certificate is internationally recognized.


Any professional looking to improve their job prospects should seriously consider getting a CISSP designation. It is a great starting point and can catalyst your career.

The certificate requires a significant investment of effort and money. However, its exclusivity is one of the reasons for its popularity among employers. In addition, an individual with a CISSP certificate has proven their expertise in the field, proving that they are ready for a senior position role in the company.


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