Step-by-Step Guide: How to Get a CISSP Certification Successfully

Are you ready to take your cybersecurity career to the next level? The journey to obtaining the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification can be challenging, but the rewards are worth the effort. This globally recognized certification demonstrates your expertise in protecting organizations from cyber threats and opens doors for career advancement. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the steps on obtaining a CISSP certification and provide you with valuable tips and resources along the way.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the CISSP credential and requirements for earning certification.

  • Prepare for the exam with self-study materials, training courses, and hands-on experience.

  • Leverage resources to navigate challenges of CISSP certification successfully.

Understanding the CISSP Credential

The CISSP certification is a testament to an IT security professional’s technical expertise and practical experience in implementing and administering a security program, including the asset security domain. Offered by the International System Security Certification Consortium (ISC)², CISSP is widely regarded as the “gold standard” of security certificates for certified information systems security. Many high-profile organizations, such as:

  • Google

  • P&G

  • IBM


recognize the CISSP designation, and surveys show that CISSP-certified professionals typically enjoy higher salaries.

CISSP certification is recommended for experienced security professionals in various cybersecurity roles, including:

  • Chief Information Security Officers (CISO)

  • IT managers

  • Security systems engineers

  • Security analysts

  • Security managers

With a CISSP certification, you can demonstrate your deep understanding of computer security, safeguarding organizations from cyber threats, and stand out in the competitive cybersecurity job market.

The Path to Earning Your CISSP Certification

Earning your CISSP certification involves meeting certain experience requirements, preparing for the CISSP examination, and finalizing the endorsement process. The subsequent sections will walk you through these steps, offering valuable resources to aid in your CISSP journey.

Meeting the Experience Requirements

Eligibility for the CISSP certification demands at least five years of full-time, hands-on experience in a minimum of two of the eight CISSP domains. This work experience requirement ensures that only highly qualified and experienced professionals attain the CISSP title. However, certain qualifications may allow for a waiver of some experience requirements, such as a four-year college degree, a master’s degree in information security, or other certifications.

Having the requisite professional experience not only demonstrates your competence in the cybersecurity field but also facilitates your ability to comprehend and follow the training more easily. If you’re just starting your career in cybersecurity, consider pursuing entry-level certifications to validate your skills and knowledge before advancing to the CISSP certification.

Preparing for the CISSP Examination

Designed to assess your knowledge and understanding of the core components of the cybersecurity field, the CISSP exam covers areas like:

  • Security and risk management

  • Networking

  • Security testing

  • Operations

To pass the exam, you’ll need to score at least 700 points out of 1000 possible points. Familiarizing yourself with the exam format and dedicating ample time for studying is vital, considering the success rate for initial attempts ranges between 20% and 60%.

Utilize a combination of self-study books, CISSP training courses, and hands-on experience to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the material. Additionally, practice exams can help you gauge your level of preparation for the certification exam, identify knowledge gaps, and improve your test-taking skills.

Completing the Endorsement Process

After successfully passing the CISSP examination, you must receive endorsement from an (ISC)² professional to verify your experience and compliance with the (ISC)² Code of Ethics. This endorsement process confirms the accuracy of your employment history, job descriptions, and the CISSP endorser’s good standing as a member of (ISC)².

Networking with potential endorsers, such as attending professional organizations and events, can be beneficial during the endorsement process. If you apply for CISSP endorsement without enough professional experience, you may be endorsed as an Associate, which provides a period of six years to acquire the essential experience and become a full CISSP.

CISSP Exam Breakdown: What to Expect

The CISSP exam consists of 100-150 multiple-choice and innovative questions, encompassing eight domains, with a passing score of 700 out of 1000 points. The exam has a three-hour time limit for taking it. Candidates must finish within this period. A thorough understanding of the exam format and question types aids in the effective preparation of your study plan.

Allocating sufficient time to meticulously study each domain, including:

  • Security and Risk Management

  • Asset Security

  • Security Architecture and Engineering

  • Communication and Network Security

  • Identity and Access Management

  • Security Assessment and Testing

  • Security Operations

  • Software Development Security

Familiarizing yourself with these domains and their respective topics will increase your chances of success on the CISSP exam.

Investment and Costs: Budgeting for Your CISSP Journey

Budgeting for your CISSP journey involves considering various costs, including:

  • Exam fees: The fee for the CISSP exam in the US is approximately $749.

  • Training courses: CISSP training courses can range from $600 to $1,500, depending on the training provider and region.

  • Study materials

In addition to these upfront costs, CISSP certification holders must pay an annual maintenance fee of $125 and earn Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits every three years to maintain their credential. Keep these expenses in mind when planning your CISSP certification journey and make sure to allocate sufficient resources to ensure success.

Key Domains of the CISSP Curriculum

A visual representation of the 8 key domains of the CISSP curriculum

The CISSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK) covers eight key domains that provide a comprehensive framework for information security practitioners. The different domains are:

  1. Security and Risk Management

  2. Asset Security

  3. Security Architecture and Engineering

  4. Communication and Network Security

  5. Identity and Access Management (IAM)

  6. Security Assessment and Testing

  7. Security Operations

  8. Software Development Security

Each domain holds its own significance in cybersecurity. Each domain addresses critical aspects of the cybersecurity field, ensuring that CISSP-certified professionals have a well-rounded understanding of information security.

Each of these domains forms the foundation of the certification, and thus requires your focused attention during CISSP exam preparation. Gaining expertise in these domains not only increases your chances of passing the CISSP exam but also equips you with the necessary skills to excel as an information security professional.

Strategies for CISSP Exam Success

Employing effective study strategies is crucial in your CISSP exam preparation to optimize your chances of success. Here are some tips to help you:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the exam format, question types, and time constraints. This will help you develop a targeted study plan.

  2. Allocate enough time for each domain. Focus on understanding the concepts and practicing relevant questions.

  3. Don’t be afraid to revisit topics if you need additional clarification. Use different resources, such as textbooks, online courses, and practice exams, to reinforce your understanding.

By following these strategies, you can enhance your preparation and increase your chances of passing the CISSP exam.

Utilizing practice exams is another valuable strategy, as they can help you evaluate your level of preparation, identify knowledge gaps, and improve your test-taking skills. Additionally, consider leveraging training resources, such as CISSP training courses and self-study materials, to supplement your exam preparation. By combining these strategies, you can maximize your chances of CISSP exam success and propel your cybersecurity career forward.

Maintaining and Renewing Your CISSP Designation

Upon earning your CISSP certification, fulfilling specific requirements is necessary to maintain your credential. To keep your CISSP designation active, you must pay an annual maintenance fee of $125 and earn a minimum of 120 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits within three years. This ensures that CISSP-certified professionals remain up-to-date with current trends and advancements in the cybersecurity field.

Earning CPE credits can be achieved through various activities, such as attending conferences, participating in training courses, or completing relevant self-study programs. By continuously updating your knowledge and skills, you can maintain your CISSP certification and stay ahead in the ever-evolving field of information security.

Advancing Your Career Post-CISSP Certification

As the CISSP certification is highly esteemed by employers and industry professionals, obtaining it can pave the way for new career opportunities in the cybersecurity field. With a CISSP certification under your belt, you can pursue various roles, such as an Information Systems Security Professional, including:

  • Security Systems Engineer

  • Security Analyst

  • Chief Information Security Officer

  • Security Consultant

  • IT Auditor

  • Security Architect

  • Security Manager

  • Network Architect

  • Penetration Tester

And more.

To further advance your career, consider:

  • Networking with other CISSP-certified professionals

  • Participating in professional organizations and events

  • Staying informed about the latest industry trends

  • Gaining valuable insights

  • Connecting with potential employers or collaborators

  • Exploring advanced certifications and specializations to enhance your expertise and marketability in the cybersecurity field.

Leveraging CISSP Certification Training Providers

A person studying for the CISSP certification using online resources

Candidates preparing for the exam can leverage the valuable resources offered by CISSP certification training providers. These resources include bootcamps, online courses, and study materials, which can provide a comprehensive understanding of the CISSP curriculum and exam format.

When choosing a CISSP training provider, consider factors like the quality of the instructors, the format of the training (in-person or online), and the availability of practice exams and study materials. By leveraging these resources, you can enhance your exam preparation and increase your chances of obtaining your CISSP certification.

Navigating the Challenges of CISSP Certification

Earning and maintaining a CISSP certification requires dedication, persistence, and a commitment to continuous learning in the ever-evolving field of information security. Progressing through your CISSP journey may present challenges, including meeting the experience requirements, keeping abreast with industry advancements, and balancing work with certification maintenance.

To navigate these challenges, here are some strategies to consider:

  • Stay focused on your goals

  • Seek support from professional networks and mentors

  • Invest in ongoing education and training

  • Embrace a growth mindset

  • Remain adaptable

By following these strategies, you can overcome obstacles and continue to excel as a CISSP-certified professional in the rapidly changing world of cybersecurity.


In conclusion, obtaining a CISSP certification can be a game-changer for your cybersecurity career, demonstrating your expertise in protecting organizations from cyber threats. By following the steps outlined in this guide, including meeting experience requirements, preparing for the exam, and completing the endorsement process, you can successfully earn your CISSP credential. Remember to stay persistent, embrace continuous learning, and leverage the resources available through CISSP training providers to ensure your success on this challenging but rewarding journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to become a CISSP?

To become a CISSP, you need a minimum of five years cumulative paid full-time work experience in two or more of the eight domains of the (ISC)2 CISSP CBK® and relevant education and professional credentials.

How much does it cost to get CISSP certified?

The CISSP certification exam cost is $749 and self-paced online training can range from $300 to $900. Attending a training course is not mandatory but provides helpful preparation for the exam.

How hard is it to get a CISSP certification?

Getting a CISSP certification is a challenging undertaking that requires at least five years of professional experience in two of the eight domains of the CISSP CBK.

How hard is the CISSP exam?

The CISSP exam is considerably tough, requiring an understanding of a wide range of topics and a 70% passing score of 700 out of 1000. It contains a mix of multiple-choice questions and advanced, innovative questions that require plenty of preparation and practice to pass.

What is the experience requirement for CISSP certification?

To be eligible for the CISSP certification, you must have at least five years of full-time, hands-on experience in two or more of the eight CISSP domains.

Scroll to Top