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The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) and Certified Information System Auditor (CISA) provided by ISACA are highly regarded information security certifications. Which is better for me? It all depends on your background and interests. Your experience will also affect your suitability for the exam. All these ISACA certifications are quite challenging. This article will focus on the differences between CISA VS CISM in the exam domain, requirements, job, and salary.

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CISA certification  (Information systems audit) recognizes the experience of auditing “professionals” to “assess IS vulnerabilities, report compliance, and establish control measures within the company.”

CISM certification is for professionals in management, design, supervision, and evaluation of “enterprise information security.”

Domain comparison

The understanding of CISA and CISM in this field focuses on information security, but there is a crucial difference. CISM is a certification to ensure “enterprise” information security, while CISA professionals ensure information security control.

This is a quick comparison of the two.

cisa-cism domain comparison

Salary Comparison 

According to PayScale’s data, the average annual income of CISA certification is  $102,752 per year. Whereas, the yearly income of CISM professionals is $126,089.

Job Comparison & careers paths

The job descriptions of CISA holders usually focus on IT audits, controls, regulatory compliance, and extensive IT infrastructure audits. On the other hand, most CISM job descriptions involve information security management, business continuity planning, disaster recovery planning, information security risk analysis, and business impact analysis.

The best way to understand the differences and similarities between CISA and CISM is to read the working practice areas of the two certifications published on the ISACA website. CISA has five work practice areas, while CISM has four work practice areas.

The main job difference between CISA and CISM is that one is designed for IT audit professionals, and the other is for managers of information security professionals.

Exam Requirements Comparison

CISA certification exam requirements

To take the CISA certification exam, applicants must have at least five years of professional work experience auditing, controlling, or protecting information systems. There are also some alternatives.

The CISA learning process may include taking CISA review courses, registering for online courses or using software, reviewing manuals, and study guides. After certification, the certified CISA is also required to comply with information security standards.

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CISM certification exam requirements

It is recommended that the candidate follow the ISACA syllabus guidelines before taking the CISM exam. He/she needs to register for the certification exam online and have at least five years of experience in the information security field. CISM also requires five years of professional experience.

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ISACA reports that approximately 46,000 professionals have obtained CISM certification, while 151,000 professionals have obtained CISA certification.

If you plan to get CISA or CISM, please pay attention to your profession when choosing the appropriate certification. For example, hold a position as a network administrator, system administrator, or similar field and develop your career in information security management. CISM will be more useful to ensure leadership. However, if you are engaged in auditing, regulatory compliance, and assurance, or want to develop your career in the IT auditing field, CISA is more suitable.

It is recommended that professionals in a leading position in the IT field take care of both. These certifications can help them understand the two areas well and establish the knowledge authority required for that level.

Which is better for me? CISM or CISA?

If you want to acquire the knowledge and skills to manage and adapt to enterprise security technology, then CISM is for you. This certificate for aspiring information security managers, IS consultants, IT consultants, and senior directors proves that you can develop and manage information security plans.

If you are currently engaged in or want to be certified in auditing, controlling, monitoring, and evaluating information technology and business systems, then the certification that suits you is CISA. It is designed for information security and IT auditors, consultants, audit managers, and non-IT auditors. 

Besides, the CISSP certification is also a trended certification in the cybersecurity industry.

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Last modified: October 27, 2021



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