CISM VS CISSP CERTIFICATION: WHICH SHOULD YOU CHOOSE FOR YOUR CYBERSECURITY CAREER?

CISM vs CISSP

CISM vs CISSP Certification

As someone who’s been in the cybersecurity industry for a while now, I know firsthand the importance of having the right certifications to advance your career.

If you’re considering either the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) or the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification, you might be wondering which one is the best fit for you.

In this article, I’ll break down the key differences between the two certifications to help you decide which one is right for your career goals.

Certifications in the Information Security Industry

Getting the right certifications is important if you want to move up in your career. Having a certification shows employers and clients that you have the knowledge and skills to protect their assets.

It can also give you an edge in the job market and lead to new career opportunities. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your hard work pay off in the form of a shiny new certification on your resume.


Cyber Security

Overview of the CISM and CISSP certifications

The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification is offered by ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association) and is specifically designed for information security managers and professionals who have at least five years of experience in the field.

I personally found the CISM certification to be incredibly valuable in my own career as a cybersecurity professional.

On the other hand, the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification is offered by (ISC)² (International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium) and is geared towards IT professionals who have at least five years of experience in two or more of the eight domains of the CISSP CBK (Common Body of Knowledge).

I know many professionals in the industry, including myself, who hold the CISSP certification and have found it to be an important asset in their careers.

Choosing between the CISM and CISSP certifications can be overwhelming, especially when you’re unsure of what each certification covers and what it takes to earn it.

That’s why in this article we will break down the key differences between the two certifications. 

By the end of this article, you’ll be well on your way to making an informed decision and taking the next step in advancing your career in the information security industry.

Key Differences 

CISM

The CISM certification is specifically designed for information security managers and professionals who have at least five years of experience in the field. The certification covers four main domains: 

  • Information Security Governance, 
  • Information Risk Management and Compliance, 
  • Information Security Program Development and Management, and 
  • Information Security Incident Management. 

This certification is perfect for those who are looking to take their career in the field of information security management to the next level.

CISSP

The CISSP certification is geared towards IT professionals who have at least five years of experience in two or more of the eight domains of the CISSP CBK (Common Body of Knowledge). These domains include

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

This certification is perfect for those who are looking to demonstrate their expertise in various domains of information security and who want to advance their careers in a more technical role in the field.

To be eligible for the CISSP certification, candidates must have a minimum of five years of paid work experience, in two or more of the eight domains .

Obtaining a college degree or an equivalent degree that is recognized regionally, or holding an additional certification from the (ISC)² approved list, can be used to fulfill one year of the required experience for the CISSP certification. 


For candidates who do not possess the necessary experience, they can still become an Associate of (ISC)² by passing the CISSP exam. As an Associate, they will have a period of six years to acquire the five years of required experience before they can become a full CISSP.

The CISSP acknowledges the expertise and leadership of individuals in the field of cybersecurity, who possess a thorough understanding of both cybersecurity strategy and its practical implementation.

Holding this certification demonstrates to employers and colleagues that an individual has the necessary skills and experience to effectively design, implement, and oversee the overall security of an organization.

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Comparison of the technical aspects of the exams (question format, duration, etc.)

The CISM exam is made up of 150 multiple-choice questions, and you have four hours to complete it. The exam costs $575 for ISACA members and $760 for non-members.

To pass the ISACA exam, you need to get a score of 450 out of 800 points.

The CISSP exam, on the other hand, is made up of 125 – 175 multiple-choice and advanced innovative items, and you have four hours to complete. It costs $749. 

Passing grade  is  700 out of 1000 points

From my personal experience, I found the CISM exam to be more focused and straightforward, while the CISSP exam was more comprehensive and challenging.

But regardless of which exam you choose, both certifications require a significant amount of hard work and dedication to pass. The reward of holding a CISM or CISSP certification is well worth the effort.

Value in the job market

Both the CISM and CISSP certifications are highly respected in the industry, and they both have a high earning potential.

According to ISACA, CISM certified professionals earn an average of 20% more than their non-certified peers. And according to (ISC)², CISSP certified professionals earn an average of 11% more than their non-certified peers.

As reported by the 2022 Salary Survey by Certification Magazine. The average CISM salary is $150,040 in the United States and $118,087 globally, while the average CISSP salary according to  (ISC)²  is $120,552 in the United States and $92,639 globally

 So, regardless of which certification you choose, you can expect a significant increase in earning potential.

When it comes to specific roles and industries, it really depends on the organization and its needs. For example, if you’re looking to work in a more senior management role, the CISM certification may hold more weight as it demonstrates your knowledge and skills in managing information security within an organization.

 But if you’re looking to work in a more technical role, the CISSP certification may be more highly valued as it covers a broader range of topics in the field of information security.

The key to success in the information security industry is having a combination of knowledge, skills, and certifications. And both the CISM and CISSP certifications are great options to have on your resume. The choice between them ultimately comes down to your specific career goals and experience.

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CISM vs CISSP Certification – How to decide which is right for you

The first step in deciding which certification is right for you is to evaluate your current role and experience. Are you currently working in an information security management role? If so, the CISM certification would be the more appropriate choice.

However, if you’re an IT professional with experience in multiple areas of information security, the CISSP certification would be a better fit. It’s important to choose a certification that aligns with your current role and experience, as it will be more relevant and beneficial to your career.

The second step is to consider your career goals. Are you looking to take on a more senior management role in the future? Or are you looking to develop your technical skills to become a security consultant?

The CISM certification would be a great option if you’re looking to take on a more senior management role, while the CISSP certification would be a better fit if you’re looking to develop your technical skills.

It’s important to choose a certification that aligns with your career goals, as it will help you progress in your desired career path.

The final step is to prepare for the exam. Both the CISM and CISSP exams are challenging, so it’s important to have a solid study plan in place. Here are some tips for preparing for the exams:

Start studying well in advance: Give yourself plenty of time to prepare for the exam. The more time you have, the better your chances of passing.

Get the right study materials: Make sure you have the most up-to-date study materials and practice tests. These will help you understand the exam format and the types of questions you’ll be facing.

Join a study group: Join a study group or find a study buddy. This will help you stay motivated and on track with your studies.

Take practice exams: Take as many practice exams as you can. This will help you get used to the exam format and identify areas where you need to improve.

Get enough rest. Make sure you’re getting enough rest and taking care of yourself. It’s important to be well-rested and energized for the exam.

And finally, don’t give up! Even if you don’t pass the exam on your first try, don’t let that discourage you. Keep studying and working towards your goal, because the reward of holding a CISM or CISSP certification is well worth the effort.

I found that having a solid study plan, utilizing relevant study materials, joining a study group, and taking practice exams helped me pass the CISM and CISSP exams, and I believe it will do the same for you.

Conclusion

Obtaining a certification in information security can greatly benefit your career in this field. CISM and CISSP are both highly respected certifications in the industry, each with its own unique focus.

It’s important to consider your current role and experience and align your certification with your career goals. The earning potential and job market value for these certifications are high.

As someone who has been in the industry for some time, I can attest to the rewards and challenges of this field. I encourage readers to take the next step and consider obtaining a CISM or CISSP certification.

The hard work and dedication will pay off in the long run, as it can help you to advance your career and open up new opportunities.

Cyb-Uranus offers consulting services that are specifically designed for start-ups and SMEs to develop an effective cyber security program. This will help them reduce their exposure to cybercrime. Our team at Cyb-Uranus specializes in providing tailored solutions that meet the unique security needs of our clients. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you protect your business from various types of malware attacks.

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