Professional development

The top 5 highest-paying infosec certifications

April 12, 2021 by Daniel Brecht

Why certify?

A cybersecurity certification is a great way for professionals to stand out in today’s job market, advance a career, get promoted, be competitive and earn more money.

Getting certified helps prove you have the knowledge, skills and abilities for a role. Employers value knowledge and hands-on capabilities and being able to demonstrate a specific area of expertise can pave the way towards positions that require particular skill sets and offer a higher salary. 

Certifications are seen as critical to professional development but also help employers identify existing and future talents. It is not surprising that professionals strive to pursue one or more of the credentials most commonly requested by employers in job listings.

So which certification should you attempt? Which will help you get a shot at a higher-paying position?

According to the 2020 IT Skills and Salary Report by Global Knowledge, some of the highest paying information security certifications in the U.S. are:

  • CCISO: $165,196
  • CISM: $142,585
  • CRISC: $141,172
  • CISSP: $138,647
  • CISA: $128,086

Note: The last four are also listed among the best information security management certifications.

What follows is a summary of each vendor-neutral certification that might help increase your salary or land you a new, higher-paying job.

1. Certified chief information security officer (CCISO)

CCISO certification by EC-Council is a program that has been developed with current and aspiring CCISOs in mind and is aimed at producing top-level executives who possess the requisite information security management experience. CCISO certified professionals have technical knowledge and familiarity with the application of information security management principles from an executive management point of view.

CCISO holders can demonstrate mastery of topics that, in addition to core security competencies, include governance, risk management, compliance and auditing, security operations, procurement and vendor management.

According to PayScale, the average salary for a Chief Information Security Officer is $165,196, while reports the pay in the United States is $223,403, but the range typically falls between $195,073 and $258,014.

2. Certified information security manager (CISM)

CISM certification by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) suits those who supervise enterprise information security. Professionals looking to be CISM certified can take the leap from purely technical to managerial positions by proving their ability to control information security programs.

CISM holders are information security managers, ISSOs or fill the job of an information and privacy risk consultant. “This means that the kinds of jobs that a CISM can get are varied and exciting, and can lean towards managerial positions, technical roles, systems auditing, information security risk assessment and even systems development roles.” This is because certified professionals can prove knowledge of governance, program development and management, as well as risk and incident management.

According to ISACA, the median salary of CISM holders is $118,000.

3. Certified in risk and information systems control (CRISC)

CRISC certification is for those with current knowledge and proficiency in the field of information systems audit, control and security. Those who are CRISC certified can prove their IT management competence, expertise in risk identification, assessment, response, monitoring and reporting.

CRISC holders are CIOs, CISOs, risk officers, privacy officers or chief compliance officers. They are also professionals who are capable of designing, implementing, monitoring and maintaining effective and risk-based information system controls in enterprises.

According to ISACA, the median salary of CRISC holders is $117,000.

4. Certified information systems security professional (CISSP)

The CISSP is one of the most highly sought-after security certifications in the IT industry. The credential is very useful for those seeking a higher-level security job and salary. The average salary for a woman falls between $66,000 and $156,000, while the average CISSP certifications-based salary for a man is between $72,000 and $164,000.

This credential may be your best option as it is normally a requirement for plenty of job openings with an information security focus, such as security analysts, security engineers, IT security architects and the like. It has a broad spectrum and requires specific knowledge in a variety of core topics including risk management, asset security, access management, testing, software development security as well as communication and network security.

Thanks to the various CISSP concentrations in the functional areas of architecture (ISSAP), engineering (ISSEP) and management (ISSMP), professionals can choose the option that brings greater depth, knowledge and expertise in their preferred area.

According to (ISC)², the ISSAP concentration is ideal for system architects, chief technology officers, system designers, network designers, business analysts and chief security officers. ISSEP is designed for senior systems engineers, information assurance systems engineers, information assurance officers, information assurance analysts and senior security analysts. ISSMP suits chief information officers, chief information security officers, senior security executives and chief technology officers and many others.

According to PayScale, CISSP-ISSAPs have an average yearly salary of $131,046. CISSP-ISSEPs earn $148,433. And CISSP-ISSMPs make about $120,000.

5. Certified information systems auditor (CISA)

CISA certification by ISACA “is world-renowned as the standard of achievement for those who audit, control, monitor and assess an organization’s information technology and business systems.”  

According to the Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report, “The CISA certification is the most popular certification for women in IT and the third most popular among all respondents” of the survey.

CISA holders are IS/IT auditors or internal audit directors and can prove expertise in topics like auditing processes, business resilience, information assets security, governance and information systems acquisition and development.

According to ISACA, the median salary of CISA holders is $110,000 with the six-figure salary especially likely for those with 10 or more years of experience. 

Which infosec certification is right for me?

In sifting through a large offer of competing certifying bodies, it is important to have a clear idea of where you stand in your career, what you are trying to achieve and whether you want to progress in your field or find a niche that better fits your abilities, preferences and expectations. Ensure that the credential you pursue best validates your knowledge, skills and abilities. See if it is listed as a requirement for the position you want or employer you want to work for. 

With the shortage of qualified professionals continuing to worsen, unfilled jobs are putting organizations at significant risk by impeding them from addressing timely new cybersecurity challenges. This is then a perfect time to acquire and test the skills necessary to enter a well-defined career path that promises great possibilities of advancement and has high salary potential.

By acquiring a certification that enhances your skills and experience, and is well-aligned with the requirements of today’s jobs in information security, professionals in a variety of industries and roles can directly impact their earning potential, as well as aspire to higher-level positions.



Cybersecurity Workforce Study, (ISC)²

2020 IT Skills and Salary Report, Global Knowledge

8 hot IT security jobs and what they pay, CSO

The 10 Highest-Paying IT Certifications of 2020, PCMag

How To Raise Your Salary In Cybersecurity, DarkReading

Cybersecurity Skills Crisis Worsens for Fourth Year in a Row […], ISSA

Cybersecurity Talent Crunch To Create 3.5 Million Unfilled Jobs […], Cybersecurity Ventures

Posted: April 12, 2021
Articles Author
Daniel Brecht
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Daniel Brecht has been writing for the Web since 2007. His interests include computers, mobile devices and cyber security standards. He has enjoyed writing on a variety of topics ranging from cloud computing to application development, web development and e-commerce. Brecht has several years of experience as an Information Technician in the military and as an education counselor. He holds a graduate Certificate in Information Assurance and a Master of Science in Information Technology.

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