CISA Certification: Overview, Requirements, Salary & Jobs

CISA Certification: Overview, Requirements, Salary & Jobs

Looking to advance your career in information security? Earning the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification can help. The CISA is a globally recognized certification for IS audit control, assurance, and security professionals. This prestigious credential demonstrates your expertise in information systems auditing, control, and security.

In this blog post, we’ll provide an in-depth look at the CISA certification. You’ll learn all about what is CISA certification, CISA certification requirements, exam details, cost, salary, and the career benefits you can expect as a CISA-certified professional. 

Discover what’s involved in earning this valuable certification, understand how the CISA certification can boost your career, and learn just how much CISAs can expect to earn.

If you’re considering the CISA certification, this guide will provide everything you need to decide if it’s the right choice for advancing your IS/IT audit and security career.

What is CISA Certification?

The CISA Certification is looked up to as one of the most prestigious and sought-after credentials in the information security industry. It is sought after by those looking to break into and move up in the cybersecurity field. The certification sets IT audit, control, and security professionals apart from the pack and opens doors to new career opportunities.

The certification is put forth by ISACA, a nonprofit IT governance association. It entails passing a comprehensive exam that drills down into topics like IT governance, systems acquisition and development, information systems auditing, protection of information assets, and disaster recovery. The exam puts candidates through their paces to validate their expertise.

The CISA credential carries a lot of clout and signifies that holders are well-versed in auditing, monitoring, and assessing enterprise IT and business systems controls.

Benefits of CISA Certification

The following section explores the career advancements, knowledge gains, and skill developments that come with this certification. Whether you are looking to move into a cybersecurity role or advance in your current position, read on to find out how achieving CISA certification can pay dividends for your career over the long haul.

How Obtaining a CISA Certification Can Benefit Your Career

Having a CISA certification can open the door to a wide range of job opportunities. Many organizations, especially those in the financial and government sectors, prefer hiring individuals with this certification due to its recognition and credibility.

Moreover, a CISA certification can lead to higher earning potential. Certified professionals tend to earn higher salaries compared to their non-certified counterparts. Organizations are willing to pay a premium for professionals who possess specialized skills and knowledge that can mitigate risks and protect sensitive information.

In addition, this certification enables you to expand your professional network. Joining industry associations, attending conferences, and participating in discussions related to information systems auditing can help you connect with like-minded professionals and potential employers. 

Furthermore, a CISA certification can pave the way for career advancement. With this credential, you become eligible for senior-level positions such as Chief Information Security Officer or IT Auditor Manager. These roles often come with increased responsibilities, higher salaries, and the chance to lead audit teams or entire departments.

Continually improving your skills and knowledge can position you for promotions and enable you to take on more challenging projects within an organization.

Knowledge and Skills Gained Through the Certification

When you study for the CISA exam and ultimately pass it, you will pick up invaluable knowledge about how to carry out IS audits. You’ll become well-versed in the processes and techniques needed to assess vulnerabilities, report on compliance, and institute controls in an organization’s information systems environment. All this know-how will stand you in good stead for advancing in the IT audit and cybersecurity sphere.

CISA Certification Requirements

Let’s break down the key requirements to obtain the CISA certification. Below, we will delve into the exam and experience prerequisites that make up the foundation for becoming a Certified Information Systems Auditor. We’ll lay out what you need to know to sign up for and pass the exam, as well as the hands-on work experience that CISA candidates must have under their belt. With this overview, you’ll be well-equipped and clued up on the journey to earning this prestigious certification.

Exam Requirements

To obtain the CISA certification, you must pass the CISA exam and meet the CISA Certification requirements laid out by ISACA.

  • Take and pass the CISA exam within the previous 5 years.
  • Have at least 5 years of professional experience in information systems auditing, control, or security roles.

Experience Requirements

You must have 5 years of professional information systems auditing, control, or security work experience. This hands-on experience must be gained by fully carrying out the tasks outlined in the CISA job practice areas.

Your experience must be verified by ISACA to ensure it lines up with the domains covered on the exam before they grant you the certification.

CISA Certification Application Process

Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of applying for the coveted CISA certification. We’ll lay out the step-by-step process for submitting your application, break down the associated CISA Certification cost you’ll shell out, and give you the lowdown on everything you need to get the ball rolling. So read on to get the inside scoop and ensure your certification aspirations stay on track!

Steps and Procedures for Applying for a CISA Certification

Here are the detailed steps for applying for CISA certification:

Step 1: Register and schedule yourself to take the CISA exam at a testing center. You must pass the exam within 5 years of submitting your CISA certification application.

Step 2: You need at least 5 years of professional experience in information systems auditing, control, or security. This can include experience in positions like Information Systems Auditor, Information Security Analyst, Chief Information Officer, etc.

Step 3: Download the application form from the ISACA website and fill it out completely.

Step 4: Have your supervisor or manager verify your work experience by signing the Experience Verification Form.

Step 5: Pay the $50 non-refundable CISA application fee online via credit card.

Step 6: Log in to your MyISACA account and submit the completed application form along with the signed experience verification form.

ISACA will review your application and verify that you have met all the requirements. If approved, you will receive a CISA certificate and can start using the CISA designation. You must renew your certification every 3 years.

Application Fees and Costs

The total cost of acquiring the prestigious CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor) certification can add up to around $1,000 or more, depending on the path taken. The expenses are broken down into five main categories:

ISACA Membership Fees: Anyone pursuing CISA certification must first join ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association), the organization that administers the certification. The professional membership category for new members can run up to $310. The recent graduate membership is cheaper at up to $140, while the student membership costs up to only $55.

CISA Exam Fees: The fees for taking the CISA exam are non-refundable and non-transferable, covering proctoring, scoring, and test center expenses accrued by ISACA. For ISACA members, the exam fee is $575, while non-members pay a heftier $760.

CISA Certification Application Fee: After passing the exam, all eligible applicants must pony up a $50 processing fee when submitting their CISA certification application.

Annual Maintenance Fees: To remain certified, ISACA members pay $45 yearly, while non-members pay $85 annually to keep their CISA designation.

Study Materials and Courses: Applicants have to shell out for study guides, courses, and materials to prepare for the exam. Study guides can run about $40, while the official CISA Review Manual and Question Database costs in the ballpark of $300. Courses can vary widely in price.

It’s just part of jumping through the hoops, so don’t drag your feet – pay upfront so you can get the show on the road. Proper planning and budgeting are advised when embarking on the CISA journey.

CISA Exam Overview and Structure

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The CISA exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and takes 4 hours (240 minutes) to complete. The exam covers 5 domains relating to information systems auditing, governance, management, acquisition, development, implementation, operation, resilience, and protection of assets.

Domain 1 on the Information System Auditing Process makes up 21% of the exam and tests knowledge of how to conduct IS audit activities, including planning, supervision, and review.

Coming in at 17%, Domain 2 focuses on the Governance and Management of IT. This section deals with information systems strategy, governance, management, monitoring, and assurance.

Domain 3 covers Information Systems Acquisition, Development, and Implementation. This domain accounts for 12% of the exam and covers stages like requirements determination, acquisition project management, system development, and configuration.

The largest domain at 23% is Domain 4 on Information Systems Operation and Business Resilience. This domain centers around service delivery, support, monitoring, information security, disaster recovery, and business continuity.

Finally, Domain 5 on the Protection of Information Assets makes up 27% of the exam. This domain zeroes in on areas like access controls, cryptography, network and internet security, systems security, and physical security.

The CISA exam is offered in several languages beyond English, including Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (new for 2023), Spanish, and Turkish. This wide range caters to information systems audit professionals around the world.

Cost of Obtaining a CISA Certification

You need to pay the one-time $50 application processing fee to obtain your CISA Certification. The exam itself will set you back $575 for ISACA members or $760 for non-members. Don’t let the costs scare you off though – earning your CISA certification will pay off in the long run with better job opportunities and higher salaries down the road.

Preparing for the CISA Exam

Passing the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) exam requires careful planning and dedicated preparation. When gearing up for the CISA exam, there are several strategies and resources test-takers can leverage to give themselves the best shot at succeeding.

In the section below, we lay out tips and approaches for effectively studying for and taking the CISA exam. We point to recommended study materials and resources that can aid in the preparation process.

Tips and Strategies for Studying and Preparing for the CISA Exam

Here are some tips and strategies for studying and preparing for the CISA exam:

  • Review the CISA exam content outline and identify your stronger and weaker domains. Focus extra time studying the weaker domains.
  • Take practice exams to gauge your knowledge. Review thoroughly any questions you get wrong and look up the topics to solidify your understanding.
  • Read the ISACA review manuals and highlight key concepts. Make flashcards or summaries of important points.
  • Watch instructional videos and take notes on crucial topics to reinforce learning. Pausing to recap or explain concepts to yourself helps cement the material.
  • Solve CISA practice questions to become familiar with the exam format and style of questions. Work through questions systematically and learn from your mistakes.
  • Study with a partner occasionally. Quiz each other on concepts and brainstorm how you would approach exam questions. Discussing with others helps sharpen knowledge.
  • Make sure to understand IT governance frameworks like COBIT and know how they relate to the CISA exam.
  • Maintain focus while studying. Take short breaks to recharge. Create a study schedule and stick to it, avoiding distractions.
  • Get plenty of rest leading up to exam day. Eat healthy foods and avoid cramming the night before so you can think clearly.

Proper preparation using high-quality study materials is crucial for passing this difficult exam. We would highly suggest looking into the following resources:

  • CISA Online Review Course: This comprehensive online course will take you through all the CISA exam domains in-depth. The interactive modules really drill down into each topic area and help cement your understanding. Many students swear this course was instrumental in filling in gaps and tying everything together.
  • CISA Questions, Answers & Explanations Database: Using this database of practice questions is a must. It contains hundreds of questions like those you’ll face on the real exam, complete with detailed explanations. Reviewing these will expose you to the types of questions asked and get you comfortable with the exam format and content.
  • CISA Review Manual (Digital or Print): The official manual acts as a knowledge checklist and covers all the info you need to know. Go through it methodically to make sure you have a handle on every exam topic. The digital version allows for easy searching and portability.
  • Free CISA Practice Quiz: ISACA offers a free sample quiz online to give you a glimpse into the exam experience. Take advantage of this to test your knowledge and calm any exam-day jitters.
  • CISA Study Groups: Joining one of these online communities lets you discuss concepts with fellow exam takers. Bounce questions off one another or explain things in your own words to reinforce understanding. Learning together can really boost preparation.

With proper planning and commitment to your preparation regimen, you can feel ready and confident to knock the CISA exam out of the park. The key is to be strategic in your studying, use the right tools and materials, and keep your eyes on the prize as you work your way through the content.

Maintaining CISA Certification

To retain the prestigious CISA designation, certified professionals must keep up with several ongoing requirements. CISA holders are beholden to fulfill maintenance and conduct prerequisites, as well as meet continuing education and auditing standards mandates. By satisfying these renewal conditions annually, CISA designees can demonstrate their commitment to upholding the high level of expertise demanded of the certification.

Below, we’ll delve into the critical aspects of preserving your CISA certification, including maintenance requirements, professional conduct expectations, ongoing professional education demands, adherence to information systems auditing standards, and the intricacies of calculating CPE credits.

Maintenance Requirements

To hold on to your CISA certification, you need to fulfill certain requirements on an ongoing basis.

First off, you must rack up and document at least 20 CPE (Continuing Professional Education) hours each year, starting the year after you initially obtain your certification. So, if you earned your CISA in 2022, you would need to start accumulating your 20 CPE credits in 2023. This annual requirement helps ensure that CISAs stay on top of changes and advancements in the IT auditing field.

Additionally, over every 3 years, you must earn and log a total of 120 CPE hours. You can’t just frontload your CPEs and do them all in the first year – you need to space them out.

On top of completing CPEs, you also have to pony up and pay an annual maintenance fee to keep your certification valid. For ISACA members, this is $45 per year, while non-members pay $85 annually. This admin fee allows ISACA to oversee the program.

Finally, each year ISACA randomly selects a percentage of CISAs for CPE audits. If you get tapped for an audit, you must provide documentation to back up the CPE hours you reported. So make sure to hold on to evidence like completion certificates in case you need to verify your ongoing education.

Professional Conduct Requirements

 Here are some professional conduct requirements for the CISA certification:

  • CISA holders must live up to high ethical standards and carry out their duties with integrity. They need to act honorably and avoid improper behavior that could reflect badly on the profession.
  • CISA professionals should steer clear of activities that involve a conflict of interest or bring the certification into disrepute. They must avoid situations that cast doubt on their professional judgment.
  • CISA-certified individuals need to own up to any mistakes they make and put them right. If they have fallen short of expectations, they must hold their hands up and make amends.
  • CISA holders must keep up with changes to regulations and legislation in the auditing field. They need to keep abreast of new developments that could impact their work.
  • Professionals with a CISA certification should reach out to peers and share best practices. They ought to touch base regularly with colleagues in the field.

Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Requirements

  • CISA holders need to carry out continuing education to maintain their certification.
  • CISA certification holders must keep up with changes in the IT audit field by completing CPE requirements. They have to maintain their knowledge and skills by taking CPE courses regularly.
  • CISA-certified professionals must keep their certification up-to-date by participating in qualifying continuing education programs. They need to brush up on new developments and best practices in information systems auditing.  

Information Systems Auditing Standards Requirement

The CISA certification sets forth that candidates must have racked up at least 5 years of professional information systems auditing, control, or security work experience within the 10 years leading up to applying for certification. This hands-on work experience must line up with the job practice areas laid out for the CISA credential.

In essence, aspiring CISAs need to have logged a minimum of 5 years of applicable work within the decade before throwing their hat in the ring for certification. The experience requirements boil down to having the proper professional background within the appropriate timeframe to qualify for and seek the CISA designation.

Calculating CPE Credits

Breaking down how to tally up CPE hours for CISA:

For every 50 minutes, you put in toward ISACA-approved training or events, that chalks up to 1 CPE credit. So, if you take part in a 1-hour ISACA webinar, that racks up 1 CPE hour for you.

And if you spend 2 hours at an in-person ISACA chapter event, you can jot down 2 CPE credits from that. 

The CISA requires you to earn 120 CPE hours over 3 years to maintain certification. So, you’ll need to keep a running count as you participate in qualifying activities that tick away at that 120-hour requirement.

It all boils down to dividing your ISACA activity time by 50 minutes to figure out your CPE tally.

Job Opportunities and Salary for CISA Certified Professionals

CISA holders have a wide range of lucrative career paths to pick from. They can take on positions such as Information Systems Auditor, IT Audit Director, Information Security Analyst, Compliance Officer, and Chief Information Security Officer. As per industry reports, salaries for these roles are projected to scale to new heights in 2023 on the back of high demand and short talent supply.  

The CISA certification continues to be highly sought-after, with over 151,000 experts certified as of 2023. Looking ahead to 2024, opportunities for CISA holders are poised to shoot up even further.

According to recent data, CISA is among the top 15 highest-paying IT certifications this year, with certified professionals pulling in an average salary of $149K – a 5% bump up from 2021. The potential for fat paychecks down the line serves as a major driver, luring more people to obtain the CISA credential.

Location and role also factor heavily into compensation. For instance, entry-level CISAs make around $60,000 on average, while senior positions rake in upwards of $175,000 – over a 50% pay gap. And those employed by large firms tend to out-earn their counterparts at medium-sized companies by about 8%.

Additionally, specialty makes a difference. Information security managers with a CISA under their belt take home around $126,000 typically, compared to $77,000 for IT auditors with the same certification.

Looking ahead, the demand for validated expertise in information systems auditing is poised to scale new heights in 2023 as data security only grows more crucial. So, opportunities will continue opening up for certified professionals who can rise and take the reins in this essential, fast-growing field.

Building a World-Class Team with CISA Certification

Securing top talent and building an elite team requires going above and beyond in recruitment and training. When bringing on new information security professionals, it is key to drill down into their qualifications and ensure they measure up to the high standards required. 

The ideal candidates will stand out from the rest by demonstrating deep knowledge across a broad range of areas like risk management, IT governance, and regulatory compliance.

With the right institutional knowledge imparted, these professionals can then be counted on to pull their weight, carry their load, and go the extra mile when it comes to fulfilling their duties. They should be eager to stick to the task and follow through on key initiatives that align with strategic business objectives. 

As they gain hands-on experience, managers must keep close tabs on their progress and provide coaching to help them realize their potential.

With diligent recruitment, comprehensive training, and steady guidance, organizations can assemble a world-class information security team ready to knock it out of the park. Leveraging CISA-certified talent ensures the composition of a squad that can take data protection and cyber risk management to the next level. Their specialized expertise and commitment to the field give companies an edge.


Obtaining CISA certification can pay off in terms of career advancement and higher salary. The payoff for attaining CISA can be significant, with 70% of certified individuals reporting on-the-job improvements and 22% receiving a pay boost.

In light of the huge demand for qualified information systems auditors and CISA’s reputation as a career accelerator, IT professionals would be remiss not to consider pursuing this valuable certification seriously.

To get started down the path of CISA certification, check out our CISA Course & Training Online. We offer flexible online courses designed to prepare you for the CISA exam. With engaging video lessons, practice tests, and study materials tailored to the CISA exam domains, you’ll be ready to pass on your first attempt.
Don’t put it off – get certified today and propel your career to new heights with our proven CISA exam prep! With our CISA Certification training, you can get CISA certified quickly and start reaping the rewards.


Q1. What is CISA Certification?

CISA Certification, or Certified Information Systems Auditor, is a globally recognized certification for professionals in the field of information systems and IT auditing. It validates expertise in assessing, controlling, and assuring information systems.

Q2. Who is eligible to pursue CISA Certification?

CISA certification is ideal for IT auditors, consultants, security professionals, and anyone responsible for controlling, monitoring, and assessing an organization’s information technology and business systems.

Q3. What are the requirements for CISA Certification?

To earn CISA certification, candidates must pass the CISA exam, adhere to the ISACA Code of Professional Ethics, and have at least five years of professional work experience in information systems auditing, control, or assurance.

Q4. How can I prepare for the CISA exam?

There are various study materials available, including official ISACA resources, practice exams, and review courses. It’s also beneficial to gain practical experience and participate in study groups.

Q5. What topics are covered in the CISA exam?

The CISA exam covers domains such as Information System Auditing Process, Governance and Management of IT, Information Systems Acquisition, Development and Implementation, Information Systems Operations and Business Resilience, and Protection of Information Assets.

Q6. What is the salary range for CISA-certified professionals?

CISA-certified professionals typically enjoy competitive salaries. Salaries vary based on experience, location, and job role, but CISA certification often leads to higher-paying positions in IT auditing and security.

Q7. What career opportunities are available with CISA Certification?

CISA-certified professionals can pursue careers as IT auditors, security consultants, compliance officers, risk management professionals, and information security managers in various industries and organizations.

Q8. Is CISA Certification globally recognized?

Yes, CISA certification is globally recognized and respected in the IT industry. It is acknowledged by organizations and government agencies worldwide as a standard of achievement for professionals in the field.

Q9. Is there a continuing education requirement for CISA Certification?

Yes, CISA-certified professionals are required to maintain their certification through continuing professional education (CPE) hours. This ensures that certified individuals stay updated with the latest trends and developments in the field.

Q10. How can CISA Certification benefit my career?

CISA certification enhances your skills and knowledge in information systems auditing, opening doors to advanced career opportunities, increased earning potential, and recognition as a trusted IT professional.