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CISA vs. CISM: 7 Points That Sets Them Apart

Mar 01, 20204 mins readAmit Masih
CISA vs. CISM: 7 Points That Sets Them Apart

CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditors) and CISM (Certified Information Security Managers) certifications are offered by ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control).

All the credentials provided by this organization hold an international value and boost your career prospect manifolds. However, candidates often get confused between these certifications.

This article focused on the significant differences between the two certifications, CISA and CISM. Though both cater to the cybersecurity industry, they are not the same.

Key Differences

CISA certification is best suited for IT auditors and CISM for risk managers and information security managers involved in cybersecurity.

A CISA professional is responsible for identifying possible threats, creating a report, and evaluating the implemented controls for their effectiveness. 

A CISM professional is responsible for designing a strategy to minimize threats, managing the process, supervising and evaluating the implemented controls for their effectiveness. It focuses not on cybersecurity practitioners but those with experience handling managerial positions and making security decisions.

Exam domains of both are related to cybersecurity, but there is a lot of difference.

CISA Exam Domains

The process of auditing information systems Governance and management of IT Information system acquisition, development, and implementation Information systems operations, maintenance, and service management Protection and information assets

CISM Exam Domains

Information security governance Information risk management Information security program development and management Information security incident management

Read more about the CISA exam pass rate.

Job Practice Areas

CISA certification holders' jobs are inclined towards IT auditing, control, and regulatory compliance. And CISM jobs focus on risk analysis, information security management, creating plans for disaster recovery, the impact of risk on business, and business continuity planning.

As a certified CISM professional, your job role involves implementing an information security program and risk management program to safeguard your organization’s digital assets. Whereas, as a CISA certified professional, your job as an auditor requires you to assure the effectiveness of the implemented security measures. You only give your opinion.

Both CISA and CISM are related to cybersecurity, and the only similarity between the two fields is that both deal with risk management positions.

CISA vs. CISM – Which is Better?

It is not appropriate to compare the two globally acknowledged credentials. Both are different and focus on a specific area of expertise. So it depends on your career goals which certification to select. 

CISA is related to the auditing profession, and you might be asked to perform an internal or external audit. Apart from auditing, you can also work as a system developer and consultant. But if you work as a network administrator, system administrator, or in any similar profession and dream of securing a security architect job, then CISA is not the certification to go with.

In that case, you must try to get CISM certified. You can also compare CISM with CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), another certification for cybersecurity professionals.

CISA vs. CISM Salary

The salary difference between CISA and CISM certified professionals is not much as both address different issues. Your educational background, work experience, demographics, and organization you work with deciding how much salary package you will be offered.

As per PayScale, the average salary of CISA certified is expected between USD 50,000 to 1,50,000 and CISM certified between USD 50,000 to 2,50,000. If you want to know in-depth requirements to get CISA certified, read the detailed article on CISA certification.

CISA vs. CISM Difficulty

All internationally recognized certifications are difficult to crack, and if you try to appear for the exam without preparation, the result will be a failure. Also, depending on background, interest, and work experience, the difficulty level varies for each candidate.

All the certificates are challenging and analyze theoretical knowledge and practical know-how of the concepts.

The Final Words

CISM focuses only on security, and CISA focuses on security and auditing both. So you might find preparing for CISA a little more challenging than CISM. Also, the questions related to auditing might appear to be easy, but if you are not from a finance or auditing background, it can be a daunting task for you to crack it.

But that does not mean you can easily pass CISM, and all the certifications offered by ISACA require in-depth study to pass.

So here, I will recommend you to read a detailed write-up on the best CISA study material to enhance your chances of success.

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