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CISM vs. CISSP Certification: Difficulty, Job Roles, Salary Comparison & More


If you are in the IT security industry, you have likely heard of or considered becoming either a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) or a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

But which one is better suited to your career needs? To answer this question, let’s take a look at what these certifications offer and how they compare to each other.

CISM focuses more on the management and governance of information security, while CISSP covers a broader range of technical knowledge about information systems and security controls.

Overview of CISM and CISSP certifications

Cybersecurity has become a crucial aspect of modern-day operations in both the public and private sectors. With the prevalence of cyber threats, organizations rely on professionals who have the necessary skills to protect systems and networks. Two of the most sought-after certifications in the field are CISM and CISSP.

CISM, which stands for Certified Information Security Manager, is a certification that demonstrates a professional’s ability to design, develop, and manage an organization’s information security system.

CISSP, on the other hand, stands for Certified Information Systems Security Professional and is a certification that attests to a professional’s competence in a range of cybersecurity topics.

Both certifications require significant expertise and experience, making them highly valued in the industry. By attaining these certifications, professionals can showcase their mastery of cybersecurity and further their careers in the field.

CISM vs CISSP: Key Differences

Focus Area

CISM is designed for those who are responsible for managing and governing an enterprise’s information security program. It covers four areas, including information security governance, compliance, program development, and incident management.

Meanwhile, CISSP is intended for IT professionals and security consultants who have a more technical and operationally-focused role. It covers eight domains, including security and risk management, security architecture and engineering, and security operations.

Certifying Body

CISM is offered by ISACA, a professional association focused on IT governance that operates globally. CISSP, on the other hand, is certified by (ISC)², a nonprofit organization that specializes in cybersecurity training and certification.

Deciding between these two options may depend on various factors, including your career goals and the type of organization you want to work for. Ultimately, both certifications can help you take your IT security career to the next level.

Experience Requirements

CISM mandates that the experience be gained in at least three of the four CISM domains, whereas CISSP requires experience in two or more of the eight domains specific to that certification. It’s important to carefully assess your prior experience and determine which certification aligns best with your professional background and goals.

Professional Development

CISM requires holders to earn 120 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) hours over three years, while CISSP requires 120 CPE credits in the same time frame. Regardless of which certification one chooses, it is clear that continued professional development is crucial to stay up-to-date with the latest advances in information security.


For those who are interested in pursuing management-focused IT roles, CISM is your go-to certification. It equips you with skills that are essential for managing security teams, implementing security systems and frameworks, and preventing cyberattacks.

On the other hand, if you are looking to get into the technical side of things and gain a range of security skills, CISSP is more suited for you. Whatever your choice may be, both CISM and CISSP will provide you with the recognition you need to succeed.

Career Paths

The CISM certification is generally sought after by individuals aiming for management roles such as IT Consultant, IT Auditor, IT Project Manager, and Information Security Manager.

On the other hand, the CISSP certification is perfect for aspirants eyeing technical roles like Security Analyst, Security Systems Engineer, Chief Information Security Officer, and Director of Security.

CISM vs CISSP Salary

Certified IT Security professionals can earn varying salaries based on their geographic location, experience level, job responsibilities, and company size. Earning a CISM or CISSP certification does not directly guarantee you a salary increase, promotion, or job security, but it can certainly put you in a better position to attain these.

According to Certification Magazine’s 2022 report, CISM certification holders have an average salary of $150,040 in the US, $93,640 outside the US, and $118,870 overall.

Meanwhile, CISSP certification holders reported an average salary of $135,560 in the US, $82,290 outside the US, and $111,140 overall.

It’s important to research your company’s incentives and career opportunities before pursuing any certification application or training course.

CISM vs CISSP Difficulty

The CISM, primarily aimed at information security management professionals, deals with the design, implementation, and assessment of information security programs.

On the other hand, the CISSP certification focuses on the technical aspects of cybersecurity, such as encryption, intrusion detection and prevention, and network security.

Overall, the difficulty level of each certification is subjective, as it highly depends on one’s experience, knowledge, and skills. Nevertheless, whichever certification one chooses to pursue, it requires dedicated effort and commitment to achieve success.

CISM vs CISSP Job Roles

If you’re considering a career in cybersecurity, it’s essential to understand the differences between the CISM and CISSP certifications. While both certifications cover managerial topics, the CISSP is unique in that it requires a combination of technical and managerial knowledge.

This means that CISSP holders are equipped to design, engineer, implement, and manage the overall security posture of a company, making them ideal candidates for positions such as security consultant, security manager, and IT director/manager.

On the other hand, those with CISM certification are focused solely on information security management and are best suited for positions as information security managers, aspiring information security managers, IS/IT consultants, and CIOs.

Although CISSP is more well-known, with over 136,000 global holders compared to 28,000 CISMs, both certifications are valuable assets for aspiring cybersecurity professionals.

Benefits of having either certification

Certifications are an excellent way to boost your professional profile, demonstrate your expertise, and increase your earning potential. Whether you’re deciding to get certified in IT, project management or HR, it’s a surefire way to set yourself apart from the competition.

Certificates reflect a determination to succeed, demonstrate a mastery of essential skills, and may increase your chances of being hired over other job seekers. Not to mention, they open the door to a wide range of job opportunities that may not have been available otherwise.

So if you’re looking for a professional road to success, it’s time to consider the benefits of having either certification- it could change your career in ways you never thought possible.

Common job roles that require CISM or CISSP certification

As technology continues to advance, cyber threats are becoming more prevalent and sophisticated. This has led to a growing demand for professionals who are well-versed in the latest cybersecurity practices and technologies.

CISM and CISSP certifications open up a variety of job opportunities in fields such as cybersecurity management, information assurance, and network security. Top job roles that require these certifications include Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), Information Security Analyst, Security Architect, and Security Manager. Obtaining a CISM or CISSP certification is a great way to show potential employers that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to protect their organization from cyber threats.

Steps to prepare for either certification

Achieving certification can be a challenging but rewarding undertaking. The process of earning certification often entails rigorous preparation, including taking courses, studying and practicing skills, reviewing training materials, and participating in exams.

To best prepare for certification, it’s important to set a clear goal and create a plan that outlines the necessary steps to achieve that goal. This may include setting a study schedule, seeking out resources and training opportunities, and connecting with others who have already earned the certification.

Taking these steps can help individuals build confidence, knowledge, and skills and ultimately succeed in earning the certification they aspire to.


Earning a CISM or CISSP certification can be essential for a successful career in the world of information security. With these credentials, one can enjoy vastly increased recognition and credibility along with considerable pay hikes.

However, when all factors are taken into account, it is no surprise that both certifications require great effort to obtain and remain valid. An aspirant must decide which of the two certifications fits best with their own professional objectives and ensure they have sufficient time and dedication to prepare for the examinations or related activities such as completing certain courses or gaining experiences.

Making such an informed decision is key to maximize one’s potential while paving the way for a satisfying and lucrative career in information security.

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