Cyber Security

CISM vs CISSP: Which One is Right For You?

June 27, 2017

Guest Author

The International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC)² Foundation estimates that the shortage of information security professionals will rise to two million people by the year 2020. As a result, the growing need for qualified information security professionals translates to more individuals earning certifications in the IT security field to serve as validation of their skill set.

If your career goals include climbing the ladder to a managerial role in information security then the CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) and CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) certifications have surely crossed your mind as a way to get there. But which one is really meant for you?

This post will review the skills each certification validates and provide insight as to which may be best for you current role and future career goals. These are two of the most valuable and popular certifications in the IT security field, so fear not – you can’t go wrong with either of them!

ISACA CISM Certification 

The CISM certification by ISACA focuses on the following modules:

  • Access Control Systems and Methodology
  • Applications and Systems Development
  • Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning
  • Cryptography
  • Law, Investigation, and Ethics
  • Operations Security – Computer
  • Physical Security
  • Security Architecture and Models
  • Telecommunications and Network Security
  • Security Management Practices

The CISM certification modules are designed for expert level information security managers. Professionals well-suited to become CISM certified are concerned with how information security will help deliver business objectives and have worked as an information security manager for 3-5 years.

The job practice domains of the CISM exam include:

Test Your Knowledge and Take Our Free CISM Assessment 

Once obtained, the CISM certification demonstrates the professional has the knowledge, skills, and understanding of information security allowing them to develop and manage an information security package.


The CISSP certification is great for professionals looking to get a boost in their career on the technical side of information security. Certification ensures that professionals possess current knowledge of the information security industry and their skills are consistent with professionals across the globe, within both the private and public sectors. Professionals who are well suited for the CISSP certification usually hold job roles such as:

  • IT consultants
  • Security policy writers
  • Privacy officers
  • Information security officers
  • Security device administrators
  • Security engineers

Learn more about what is takes to become CISSP certified.

The CISSP certification focuses on the following areas:

  • Security and Risk Management
  • Asset Security
  • Security Assessment and Testing
  • Communications and Network Security
  • Security Engineering
  • Identity and Access Management
  • Security Operations
  • Software Development Security
(ISC)² CISSP Training Course Details

CISM vs CISSP: Which Certification is Right for You?

Now that you understand the details about each certification it is time to decide which is best suited for your career aspirations.

Are You Focused on Managing the Operational Side of the Business? Get CISSP Certified!

While CISSP is very much an expert-level management certification, there is still a stronger focus on the operational side of security in comparison to the CISM. This is a great bridge if you are moving from an advanced technical role into the management space. Preparation for this certification will draw greatly on your operational security knowledge and then teach you how apply it to business decision-making.

Additionally, this certification can be achieved at an Associate level if you don’t have the 5 years of management experience it recommends; which makes it easier to attain if you are just beginning your information security management career.

Are You Focused on Security Strategy? Get CISM Certified!

The CISM certification is designed around how information security will help deliver business objectives. Therefore, things like return on investment for security and security budgets are the focus of the CISM exam. A CISM is not as concerned with managing security operations such as in the SDLC, but more so in how does lack of security in these operational areas affect the bottom line. Earning your CISM is a natural step after the CISSP if your goal is to attain the level of CIO or Risk Management Professional within your career.

Learn if you’ll be a good CISM candidate when you take this assessment!

Are You Ready to Get CISSP or CISM Certfiied?

If you’re convinced that earning one of these certifications is the best career move for you, then go ahead and give our team a call at 240-667-7757 to register for an upcoming class! We’re not going to lie, both exams are extremely difficult and very few people pass on their first attempt, but your likelihood increases exponentially if you prepare yourself correctly.

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