CISSP vs. CISA: Which Certification is Better in 2023?

CISSP vs. CISA: Which Certification is Better For You?

If you are considering going into the security and IT fields, there might be more questions than answers at the start. How can you get certified by a reputable organization that shows you have the skills to succeed in an open job position? 

Many confused job seekers may guess about the best exam and certification to take. But this can lead to wasting money, time, and effort. Instead of just choosing whichever exam comes first on your Google search, we have a better idea. Still trying to understand? 

Well, it doesn’t have to be complicated. When comparing the best certifications that can identify your skills in the industry, there are two that reign supreme — the CISA and CISSP certifications. These online tools help job seekers boost their knowledge of security, IT technology, engineering, and much more. 

We have compared both certifications and broken ties down into simple terms so you can find out which is best for you! 

What is the CISSP?

The CISSP is the most well-known and widely-used IT and security certification worldwide. Therefore, it usually takes the cake as the most highly-lauded certification for those who want to work in the information systems security professional field. 

Since the information security industry has been continually growing at a high rate over the last decade, more and more people are taking the CISSP than ever before. Any applicant who wants to work in the information systems security professional industry should take this exam after the required years of work experience.  

People who take the CISSP, and earn their certification, are at a much higher potential to be hired by one of the security agencies with an open position. However, junior employees may consider waiting to take the CISSP until they have more experience in the industry. 

The main focus of the CISSP certification includes IT workers, information security officers, security operations professionals, chief compliance officers, and other security professionals. 

Passing the CISSP exam can increase the likelihood of a person getting a higher-up open position at a current job or earning a new job just posted on the market. For those who are new to the information security industry, taking the CISSP before they are ready may not be the smartest option. 

Regarding the format, the CISSP is a difficult and time-consuming exam that is 125 questions long. Test takers are provided 6 hours to complete the test with questions focusing on architecture, engineering, asset security, risk management, security, communication, network security, operations, and access management.  

To take the exam, test takers must pay a hefty $700. If you are not ready for the exam, this is a lot of wasted money down the drain. This is one of the main driving factors why IT professionals choose to take the CISA before attempting the CISSP. 

However, suppose you are confident in your abilities. In that case, the CISSP certification directly correlates to a higher yearly salary than those who solely have the CISA certification. 

What is the CISA?

The CISA is a security exam focusing solely on becoming an auditor through an in-depth test. Job seekers who want to work in fields regarding cyber activity, information system technology, forensics, or audits will benefit from earning this certification. 

The CISA professional certification is easier and less strenuous than the CISSP. Although this exam is still geared towards higher-up professionals, it is considered easier to obtain. The main five categories within the exam include IT management, auditing, IS acquisition, operations, and information assets. 

Although the CISA exam is considered easier, it doesn’t mean it is easy. iSACA, the control association, ensures that all certificate holders have five years of experience before taking the exam. Plus, they must continue on-the-job training to earn 20 Continuous Profession Enhanced hours per year. 


The CISSP and CISA are two well-reputed exams that offer certifications to people who want to work in the information technology, auditing, or security sector. 

In short, the CISA is good for those who want to focus on becoming an information systems auditor or an IT auditor. 

The CISSP exam is good for job seekers who want to become an information systems security professional, security manager, certified information security manager, security analyst, or security engineer in the cyber security field.

Some job seekers may even decide to get both certifications. Suppose you are in the security field and want to cross over to information technology. In that case, you can take the CISA first and then the CISSP. The same applies to the opposite circumstance. 

Earning these certifications helps job seekers stand out among the competition. Potential employees have a much higher likelihood of being seen, and hired, by an employer if they feature a difficult certification that shows their prowess and expertise. 

Similarities and Differences

There are certain similarities and differences between these two certifications to remember before taking one of the exams. 


  • Good for those who are applying for a managerial position
  • Both cover the main focal points within information system auditing procedures 
  • Experience — the ISACA requires a test taker to have five years of job training before they can take the CISA or the CISSP 
  • Both certifications are neutral, meaning they can both qualify a person for their IT security knowledge and credentials 
  • Annual fee — Both certifications charge an annual fee (CISSP charges $125 per year, and CISA charges $45 per year) 
  • Both require a four-year degree or equivalent — CISA requires a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, whereas the CISSP requires a degree or ISC equivalent 


  • Price — The CISSP costs $700, and the CISA costs $415
  • The CISSP salary is much higher than the CISA average salary
  • The CISSP is much more technical and advanced than the CISA  

Frequently Asked Questions

Suppose you are still trying to figure out the differences in the certifications. In that case, a few commonly asked questions and answers can help put your mind at ease. 

Which certification is best for a job in cybersecurity?

Although both certifications focus on information technology, the CISSP certification is the smartest choice for those who want to enter cybersecurity. Once you earn the CISSP, you can expect an annual salary between $75k and $120k per year. 

Who should take the CISA certification?

There are a few specific job professions would best benefit from taking the CISA certification compared to the CISSP certification.
Suppose you are looking for a job opening in IT management, government, auditing, or information systems technology fields. In that case, this is the best exam for you. Furthermore, if you do not want to spend $700 to earn a certification, consider starting with this CISA certification to test your knowledge for a lower price tag. 

Who should take the CISSP certification?

The CISSP certification focuses on training professionals in the IT industry on how to operate security systems, create software, including engineering in the software fields, and utilize hands-on methods to enhance a company’s secure information technology. 
People looking to become an IT manager, architect, cloud developer, network architect, cloud architect, or analyst should consider getting this certification first. 

What are the benefits of a CISSP certification? 

The benefits of a CISSP certification include a higher salary level and a better chance of obtaining a high-paying job. 

Is it worth getting both a CISA and CISSP certification?

People who want to start in one field and branch out to another should consider getting both certifications. If you feel that you are qualified in both sectors, it can’t hurt to get both — it can only help you get a better-paying job that requires more qualifications. 

Is CISA harder than CISSP?

Beginner test takers and those new in the IT field may want to take the easier of the two tests first. In this case, the CISA exam is considered easier due to the generalized knowledge of the test. 
In comparison, the CISSP is more difficult due to the technical information. Only half of the people who take this test pass it their first time. 

Which is better, a CISSP or a CISA/CISM? 

The CISSP is better for those who want a job specifically with information technology. In contrast, the CISA is better for those who want to work in the security field. If you are considering doing two professions in your lifetime (ex: certified information systems auditor and security manager), taking both is a good idea. 

Do you need a professional education for the CISA or CISSP?

Applicants who take the CISA need to have a Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s Degree with a focus in Accounting to take the exam. Many people who work in the CISA field also have a degree in information security or technology. 
For the CISSP, the applicant will need to show a four-year college degree OR an approved certification present on the ISC list. 

CISA and CISSP done. What’s the next cert? : r/cybersecurity

After acquiring either the CISA or CISSP certification, you can take the test for both the CCISO and CISM certifications. Make sure you have the relevant experience and master’s degree before sitting for this test.

Eric Williams

Eric Williams

Eric Williams is a writer for the Exam Pass team. He discusses tips and strategies for passing certification exams, in addition to news regarding education advancements and technology. The Exam Pass daily newsletter is curated by Eric, who is also in charge of the coverage of all our Test Taking Tips. Before he started working at Exam Pass, he was a freelance writer for and covered news about mobile applications.
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