Unlocking the Potential of CISA Cybersecurity Certification: A 2024 Roadmap

Are you looking to advance your career in cybersecurity and showcase your expertise in IT auditing? The globally recognized CISA cybersecurity certification, Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), might be just what you need. In this blog post, we’ll explore the ins and outs of CISA cybersecurity certification, its benefits, costs, and how it can help you achieve your career goals in the cybersecurity field.

Key Takeaways

  • CISA certification is globally recognized and provides individuals with the knowledge and skills needed for IT auditing, control, security, risk management, compliance & more.

  • Investment in a CISA designation can lead to increased job prospects & salaries. Average annual wage of $77k-$108k.

  • Adhering to ethical standards & completing 20 hrs/yr of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) are required for maintaining CISA certification.

Understanding CISA Cybersecurity Certification

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The CISA certification validates an individual’s knowledge and skills as a certified information systems auditor in the maintenance, safeguarding, operation, and implementation of information systems, including information systems acquisition, according to applicable governance, such as information systems audit. Professionals with CISA certification demonstrate proficiency in auditing, controlling, monitoring, and assessing an organization’s IT and business systems. Information security auditors, chief risk officers, and compliance heads benefit from a CISA certification, chief risk officers, and compliance heads, as it showcases their knowledge of information systems auditing standards.

The CISA certification exam, which focuses on IT governance, risk management, and information security,, the CISA certification exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions designed to assess the candidate’s aptitude in these areas.

The Significance of CISA in Cybersecurity

The CISA certification plays a significant role in the cybersecurity landscape, offering a standardized measure of an IT auditor’s skills and abilities. As IT auditors are responsible for safeguarding an organization’s data and internal controls through the use of technology, obtaining CISA certification demonstrates proficiency in the following areas:

  • Audit experience, skills, and knowledge

  • Planning and managing information systems

  • Aligning information systems with organizational goals

  • Performing effective IT audits

  • Assessing vulnerabilities in IT and business systems

This globally recognized certification can lead to an average annual wage of $77,783 for IT auditors.

Key Components of the CISA Designation

Several key components make up the CISA designation: exam domains, eligibility criteria, and ethical standards. The exam domains include executing risk-based IS audit strategies, adhering to IS audit standards, communicating audit results and recommendations effectively, evaluating the IT governance structure and IT strategies for effectiveness, and selecting IT suppliers and contracts that ensure proper service levels.

To be eligible for CISA candidacy, applicants must possess relevant work experience in the areas of IT auditing, control, or security, or alternatively, may substitute some experience with education. Finally, CISA certified professionals must adhere to the International Professional Practices Framework (IPPF) ethical standards.

Pathway to Achieving CISA Certification

Illustration of a person achieving CISA certification

Achieving CISA certification requires meeting certain eligibility requirements, registering for the exam, and successfully passing the test. To be eligible, an individual must have a minimum of five years of professional work experience in IT auditing, control, or assurance and pay a one-time, nonrefundable $50 application processing fee.

You can register for the CISA exam online via the ISACA website. Upon registering, candidates can make use of ISACA-provided exam preparation tools and resources for the CISA exam, and once prepared, take the examination consisting of 150 multiple-choice questions, with a minimum passing score of 450 out of 800.

Eligibility Criteria for CISA Candidates

Specific eligibility criteria must be fulfilled by CISA candidates to be considered for the certification. A minimum of five years of professional work experience in IT auditing, control, or security is required. However, ISACA allows certain substitutions for the work experience requirement; auditing, university credits, a master’s degree, or instructional experience may be accepted, but a minimum of two years of work experience is still mandatory.

CISA Exam Registration and Preparation Strategies

Candidates can complete the registration process for the CISA exam online through the ISACA website and pay the exam fee, which is $595 for non-ISACA members and $465 for ISACA members. In terms of preparation, a variety of options are available, such as:

  • Creating a personal study guide

  • Following an ISACA-approved review manual

  • Enrolling in ISACA-offered courses with live instruction

  • Purchasing a subscription to the ISACA database, which contains review questions, answers, and explanations, to further aid in their preparation.

Passing the CISA Examination

To pass the CISA examination, candidates must demonstrate proficiency in the five exam domains through 150 multiple-choice questions within a four-hour time frame. The minimum passing score for the CISA certification exam is 450 out of 800.

In case a candidate does not pass the exam on their first attempt, they are allowed four attempts within a rolling 12-month period to retake the exam and achieve a passing score.

Investment and Returns: CISA Certification Cost and Benefits

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Obtaining a CISA certification requires an investment, but in time and money, the benefits include increased job opportunities, higher salaries, and professional recognition. ISACA members can benefit from a discounted exam fee! It is only $575 compared to the regular fee of $760 for non-members. Additionally, there are costs associated with study materials, such as the official CISA review manual priced between $40 to $300, and ongoing maintenance fees for certified professionals.

However, the potential return on investment is substantial, as CISA certified professionals can expect an average annual salary of approximately $108,000 and various opportunities for career advancement.

Breakdown of CISA Exam Costs

The CISA certification process involves certain expenses can be broken down into several categories. The exam fee for non-ISACA members is $595, and for ISACA members, it’s $465. In terms of study materials, the official CISA review manual by ISACA costs approximately $82.95 for members and $106.65 for non-members, while other study resources can range from $40 for a study guide to over $300 for the official CISA review manual and question bank. Lastly, there are annual maintenance fees of $45 for ISACA members and $85 for non-members.

Evaluating the Value of CISA Certification

To evaluate the value of CISA certification, it’s essential to consider the following:

  • Global recognition: CISA certification is globally recognized and indicates an individual’s knowledge of IT and auditing, security, governance, and the safeguarding of information assets.

  • Potential career advancement: CISA certification can lead to better job opportunities in various CISA job practice areas.

  • Increased earning potential: On average, CISA certified professionals earn an annual salary of approximately $108,000.

Furthermore, professionals with a CISA certification can leverage their expertise to advance their careers and contribute to the overall cyber preparedness and resilience of their organizations.

CISA’s Role in Professional Ethics and Conduct

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Maintaining the CISA designation requires adhering to ethical standards through continuing professional education (CPE) are essential aspects of being a CISA certified professional. The International Professional Practices Framework (IPPF) outlines the ethical standards for CISA certified professionals, guiding their professional and personal conduct to preserve integrity, confidentiality, and professionalism in their work.

Additionally, to maintain their certification, CISA certification holders, also known as CISA certified professionals, are required to:

  • Complete and report a minimum of 20 hours of CPE experience annually

  • Complete a total of 120 hours of CPE experience over a three-year period

  • Pay an annual maintenance fee.

Ethical Standards for CISA Certified Professionals

Compliance with the ISACA Code of Professional Ethics is mandatory for CISA certified professionals, which outlines the principles of integrity, honesty, transparency, and professional conduct they are obligated to follow. Adherence to these ethical standards ensures that CISA professionals maintain a high level of professionalism in their work and preserve public trust and confidence in their abilities.

Not complying with the code could result in ramifications for their certification and professional reputation.

Maintaining CISA Designation through Continuing Professional Education (CPE)

To maintain their designation, CISA certified professionals must meet specific requirements, including completing 20 hours of CPE annually and a total of 120 CPE hours over a three-year period. This ongoing learning and professional development ensure that CISA professionals stay current with industry trends, emerging threats, and advancements in technology. Failure to meet these CPE requirements may result in a letter of reprimand, suspension or revocation of the certification, and a fine of up to $10,000.

CPE hours can be reported through the ISACA website or portal.

Career Advancement with CISA Certification

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Career advancement is a possible outcome of obtaining a CISA certification in various IT roles, such as IT auditor, risk analyst, and internal audit manager. Professionals with CISA certification are equipped with the skills and knowledge to apply their expertise in real-world situations and adapt to the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape.

As a result, CISA certified professionals can expect higher average annual salaries and opportunities for career progression in the cybersecurity field.

Job Roles and Responsibilities for CISA Certified Professionals

A variety of job roles are open to CISA certified professionals, ensuring compliance, conducting risk assessments, and protecting information assets. Some of these roles include IT auditors, information security analysts, cybersecurity auditors, risk and compliance managers, and assurance and control positions in IS audit. These professionals are responsible for recognizing and managing security weaknesses, assessing conformity of processes and products, and introducing remedies to address any identified risks.

Furthermore, they supervise personnel to ensure adherence to protocols and processes in information systems operations to achieve organizational goals.

Average Annual Salary and Career Progression

Higher average annual salaries are expected for CISA certified professionals and potential for career progression in the cybersecurity domain. The average salary of someone holding a CISA certification is approximately $110,000, while internal audit directors, risk analysts, and security officers earn even more. Additionally, the CISA certification can aid individuals in progressing to the subsequent level of their careers and qualify for better-paying jobs in the industry, such as:

  • IT audit managers

  • IT project managers/auditors

  • IT security officers

  • Network security engineers

Leveraging CISA Training for Real-World Applications

Professionals gain the skills and knowledge through CISA training to apply their expertise in real-world situations and adapt to the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape. Practical applications of CISA training include professional information systems auditing and:

  • Performing IT audits

  • Managing cybersecurity risks

  • Adhering to regulatory requirements

  • Improving IT governance

  • Fortifying information systems

Through hands-on experiences and learning from experienced practitioners, CISA training enables professionals to develop practical skills and gain valuable perspectives that extend beyond theoretical knowledge.

Case Studies: CISA in Action

The practical application of CISA certification is demonstrated through case studies in various industries and organizations. For example, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has provided case studies exploring cross-enterprise governance mechanisms used by states in various cybersecurity areas. Additionally, the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC) shares success stories highlighting the application of CISA certification in collaborative cyber defense efforts.

These case studies showcase the value of CISA certification in addressing real-world cybersecurity challenges and protecting vital information assets.

Continuous Learning and Adaptation

CISA certified professionals must continuously learn and adapt to stay current with industry trends and emerging threats. By engaging in ongoing learning, CISA professionals can:

  • Remain abreast of the most recent threats and technologies

  • Respond effectively to cyber threats

  • Progress their careers

  • Contribute to the general cyber preparedness and resilience of organizations.

It is recommended that CISA certified professionals update their knowledge at least every five years to maintain their expertise in the ever-evolving field of cybersecurity.

Comparing CISA with Other Professional Certifications

Individuals can benefit from comparing CISA with other professional certifications make informed decisions about their career paths in cybersecurity. Each certification offers unique benefits and focuses on different aspects of the cybersecurity field. For example, the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification encompasses a wide range of security topics, while the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification focuses on ethical hacking and penetration testing.

Considering factors such as:

  • relevance

  • reputation

  • industry recognition

  • skill coverage

  • exam difficulty

  • cost

  • continuing education

can aid in choosing the right certification based on one’s career goals, experience, and desired area of expertise.

CISA Versus Other Cybersecurity Credentials

Compared to other cybersecurity credentials, CISA certification offers unique benefits, such as:

  • A focus on IT auditing and risk management

  • Less technical and comprehensive than CISSP certification

  • Covers a narrower range of security topics

  • Generally commands lower salaries than CISSP certification

On the other hand, the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification emphasizes ethical hacking and penetration testing, while CompTIA Security+ is an entry-level certification covering a wide range of security topics. Ultimately, the choice of certification will depend on an individual’s specific career goals and desired area of expertise.

Making an Informed Decision for Your Career

An individual’s career goals dictate the choice of the right certification, experience, and desired area of expertise in the cybersecurity field. When determining which certification to pursue, it’s essential to weigh factors such as:

  • Relevance

  • Reputation

  • Industry recognition

  • Skill coverage

  • Exam difficulty

  • Cost

  • Continuing education

By considering these factors and comparing CISA with other professional certifications, individuals can make an informed decision that aligns with their career aspirations and helps them achieve success in the cybersecurity field.


In conclusion, the CISA certification is a valuable credential for professionals seeking to advance their careers in IT auditing, risk management, and cybersecurity. With global recognition, increased earning potential, and a focus on practical knowledge, CISA certification equips professionals with the skills and expertise needed to excel in various job roles and industries. Through continuous learning and adaptation, CISA certified professionals can stay current with the ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape and contribute to the overall cyber preparedness and resilience of organizations. As you consider your career path in cybersecurity, weigh the benefits of CISA certification against other professional certifications to make an informed decision that aligns with your goals and aspirations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is CISA a cybersecurity certification?

Yes, CISA stands for Certified Information Systems Auditor and is a cybersecurity certification that focuses on governance, risk management, compliance and international security measures.

How much does CISA exam cost?

The CISA exam costs $575 for an ISACA member and $760 for a non-member. These fees must be paid at the time of registration and are valid for 12 months after the date of purchase, after which any unused payments will be lost.

Is CISA hard to pass?

With a basic understanding of at least 70% of the CISA knowledge areas, and some industry experience, passing CISA should not be too difficult. A simple review of the materials is often enough to pass the exam.

Is a CISA worth IT?

The CISA certification is highly recommended by industry professionals and demonstrates a high level of expertise in the IT audit, control and security field. It is a valuable asset for advancing an IT career, as it is often required for job postings, and it opens new avenues of opportunity in early stages.

What are the eligibility requirements for CISA certification?

Candidates must have a minimum of five years of professional work experience in IT auditing, control, or security to be eligible for CISA certification, although some substitutions are allowed with a minimum of two years’ experience still mandatory.

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