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CISA Certification

What is CISA Certification? Everything You Need to Know

Aug 16, 202010 mins readAmit Masih
What is CISA Certification? Everything You Need to Know

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification by ISACA is a globally acknowledged achievement standard for those who want to prove their expertise in IS/IT auditing, control, and security.

In this ever-growing era of technical transformation, this certificate can make a lot of difference to the way you provide auditing services to your organization or help you become a sought-after professional within no time.

This comprehensive CISA certification guide will equip you with complete knowledge about the CISA certification, including its importance, domains covered, exam costs, registration process, exam retake process, certificate maintenance criteria, and exam day rules. 

The information will help you decide whether it is the best and most beneficial certification to boost your career prospects.

What is ISACA?

Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) is a non-profit, independent, and international association focusing on IT governance, audit, and related fields. It is engaged in researching, developing and using globally acceptable information systems practices.

Besides helping enterprises with guidance and information systems governing tools, several global conferences in technical and managerial domains are also conducted. It also offers globally accepted certification programs, such as CISA, CISM, CGEIT, and CRISC.

What is CISA Certification?

The Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification by ISACA is a globally recognized certificate showcasing the expertise of professionals involved in auditing, controlling, monitoring, and assessing information technology and business systems within their organization.

CISA certification is not easy to obtain, and it is pretty challenging. Yet the perks associated with this designation, like increased job growth rate and salary package at par with the industry standards, make it a sought-after certification among IT professionals.

As a certified IS/IT auditor, your job role includes analyzing and stopping fraud, preventing unnecessary expenditure, and non-compliance. You are also responsible for analyzing your findings and presenting them to senior management.

(h2) CISA Certification Work Experience Requirement To obtain the CISA certification, you must pass the CISA exam and have at least five years of work experience in an IS/IT audit, control, assurance, or security job.

You must also adhere to a professional code of ethics.

As a CISA certified professional, you can work as an IT audit manager, IS analyst, IT project manager, network operation security engineer, IT security officer, cybersecurity analyst, IT risk and assurance manager, IT consultant, or privacy officer.

Importance of CISA Certification

The use of technology has increased manifolds. If you love exploring new stuff and can help organizations analyze threats and protect their information assets, you must go for this certificate.

Here are a few reasons highlighting the importance of CISA certification:

With the continuous growth of the IT field, the demand for skilled IT auditors who can protect a company’s information assets increases daily. Being CISA certified shows your dedication to work as an IT auditor and opens doors to high-paying job roles.

An information system is the soul of the new-age business world. IT auditors need to face several challenges as maximum accounting functions use information systems for their execution. This certificate equips you with forward-thinking skills.

Specializing as IT auditors make you eligible to get a high salary package in the auditing field. It also helps you move up the ladder and acquire top job roles quickly. Having a CISA credential is like a badge to prove your expertise and seriousness about this profession.

CISA certification is a globally recognized credential. If you plan to work abroad, it can boost your job prospects. With economies getting globalized, professionals must have skills to satisfy the global work requirements.

CISA Certification Examination Domains

Information Systems Auditing Process (21%)

This domain deals with auditing the information systems following the IT audit standards to analyze weak points and develop a strategy to protect them. 

Key areas:

  • Management of the IS audit functions
  • ISACA IT audit and assurance standards and guidelines
  • Risk analysis
  • Internal controls
  • Performing IS audit using complete IS audit standards
  • Execution of risk-based IS audit strategies
  • Presenting audit results
  • Suggesting improvement strategies
  • Supervising the newly implemented techniques

Governance and Management of IT (17%)

This domain deals with coordination among the workers of an IT organization. As an employee, you have to see whether HR management, IT governance, policies, and standards are in harmony to make further decisions. 

Key areas:

  • Corporate governance
  • IT governance structure
  • Auditing IT governance structure
  • Information system strategy
  • Maturity and process improvement model
  • IT investments and allocation
  • Risk management
  • Policies and procedures
  • IS management practices
  • IS organizational structure and responsibilities
  • Business continuity planning
  • Auditing business continuity
  • Disaster recovery

Information Systems Acquisition, Development, and Implementation (12%)

This domain deals with project and business management roles, evaluates the suggested investments in IS acquisition, development, and maintenance and gathers reviews. 

Key areas:

  • Business cases
  • Business application development
  • Business application system
  • Project management structure and practices
  • Infrastructure development practices
  • Process improvement practices
  • Information system maintenance practices
  • Application controls
  • Auditing systems development, acquisition, and maintenance
  • Process improvement practices
  • Return on investment
  • Project handling
  • Project risk analysis and management
  • Post-implementation supervision

Information Systems Operations and Business Resilience (23%)

This domain deals with analyzing whether the company’s goals are correctly aligned with information system operations and processes. Also, disaster and data recovery cases are effectively dealt with and rectified to prevent loss. 

Key areas:

  • IS operations and hardware
  • IS architecture and software
  • IS network infrastructure
  • Service management practices
  • Systems resiliency 
  • Control techniques
  • Performance supervision
  • Examining data backup and lifecycle
  • Database management
  • Incident management
  • Testing involving disaster recovery

Protection of Information Assets (27%)

This domain deals with maintaining the confidentiality and integrity of the company's information assets. It involves evaluating security policies, standards, and procedures. As an employee, you can be held accountable for designing, implementing, and evaluating system security controls, data processes, and environmental controls.

Key areas:

  • Logical access
  • Auditing IS management framework
  • Auditing network infrastructure security
  • Protecting IT assets
  • Mobile computing
  • Physical access exposures and controls
  • Environmental exposures and controls
  • Verifying material’s confidentiality, integrity, and availability

CISA Exam Fee

ISACA member: USD 575 Non-ISACA member: USD 760

The exam fee is non-refundable and non-transferable.  

Certification Preparation Cost

Self-paced (12-month subscription): ISACA member: USD 299 Non-ISACA member: USD 399   Interactive (12-month subscription): ISACA member: USD 795 Non-ISACA member: USD 895   You can buy CISA review manual and study material in printed or eBook format or opt for virtual instructor-led and in-person training sessions. There is a provision for group coaching for corporates also, and you can check the price for such sessions by visiting their official site.  

Getting CISA Certified

Submit your CISA certification application if you satisfy the following requirements:

  • Have passed the CISA exam within the last five years
  • Required full-time work experience
  • Paid application processing fees  

Certification Maintenance

Annual Maintenance Fees:

ISACA member: USD 45 Non-ISACA member: USD 85

Certification Maintenance Criteria:

Earn a minimum of 20 hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits each year and a maximum of 120 hours over three years. It is required to keep your knowledge and skills in the privacy field up to date.

CRISC Exam Study Community

A unique forum, CRISC Exam Study Community, is provided by ISACA, where students can ask questions, share study materials, or exchange ideas with fellow community members.   Exam Duration: 4 hours   Exam Format: Multiple choice

Number of Questions: 150   Exam Passing Score: 450   Validation Period of CISA Certificate: 3 Years   Exam Languages:

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Hebrew
  • Italian
  • Japanese 
  • Korean
  • Spanish 
  • Turkish  

CISA Exam Registration

The list of examination sites on the ISACA website can change anytime. So whether you are applying for an in-person or online exam, it is recommended to check the site name in the list before applying and submitting registration fees as the registration fee is non-refundable and transferable.

Online registration process:

  • Login if already a member or sign up for a new account
  • Enter all the details carefully.
  • Accept terms and conditions and select your certification by visiting the exam registration page.
  • Read more about the CISA registration process.  

Exam Scheduling and Rescheduling

Exam Scheduling:

Once the account has been created on the ISACA website, you will get a confirmation mail if you are eligible to appear for the exam.

Registration steps:

  • Login to your account on the ISACA website.
  • Click on my certification page.
  • In the pre-certification summary section, select the schedule exam URL.
  • The scheduling page will open with step-by-step instructions to schedule your test appointment.  

Exam Rescheduling:

If you cannot appear for the exam on the scheduled date due to some unavoidable reasons, there is a provision to reschedule the exam without paying any extra fees.

But it is only possible if rescheduling is done 48 hours before the original appointment. If rescheduling is not done before this deadline, your registration amount will not be refunded.


You can postpone your cancelled or unscheduled exam by paying an additional processing fee of $50 or $100. You can do it only once, and the charges are non-refundable or transferable.  

Exam Retakes

If your score is less than 450, you can take an exam retake. As only one exam is allowed per testing window, you have to register in the upcoming window for a retake by making the payment and scheduling a new exam appointment.  

Exam Locations 

Whether you are appearing for in-person or online proctored exams conducted by ISACA’s testing partner PSI, you must confirm your testing location beforehand. You can take proctored exams both online and by visiting the test center.

However, in the case of natural calamity or any other emergency, the scheduled exam can be cancelled or postponed by the organization. A notification about the same is sent to all the candidates through email or phone by PSI.

Exam Day Rules

Whether you have opted for an in-person exam or an online proctored exam, there are a few rules that need to be fulfilled, or your exam can be cancelled.

Read: Complete Guide on Exam Day Dos and Don’ts

Final Words

There is a massive demand for IT auditors. With technology being the base of all businesses, employers now trust and prioritize CISA certification-holding professionals more than non-certified ones. 

Hence if you have a deep interest in excelling as an IT auditor, you must get CISA certified to make career advancement. It is a globally recognized certification and indicates your in-depth knowledge and skills to excel in the IS/IT profession.

To earn this certificate, you need to invest both time and money, but the return on investment is worth it.

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