Introduction

Whatever career you chose in life, you need to prove your qualifications. In the IT industry there are a number of organizations that can help you prove your ability to do your job, not only well, but with authority and knowledge. Information technology is an exciting career with many specializations to choose from as you increase your experience. It is also a career that encourages both men and women from all disciplines to enter. But one thing that IT is not, is stagnant.

Technology is fast paced. The Internet became ubiquitous less than 25 years ago, and yet already, we have the advent of the Internet of Things and Cloud computing. Change is touching the heart of the enterprise from automation of business processes to network virtualization. As IT professionals, we have to keep up with these changes and to do so, we can turn to industry-respected IT certifications from ISACA.

ISACA is a not-for-profit, independent authority that represents IT professionals and offers IT certifications. An ISACA certification will progress your IT career and help you to stand out from the crowd.

How to Choose the Best ISACA Certification for Your Career Stage & Goals

ISACA offer four distinct certifications:

  1. CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor)
  2. CISM (Certified Information Security Manager)
  3. CGEIT (Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT)
  4. CRISC (Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control)

In addition, ISACA also offers COBIT 5 accreditation.

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

IT systems are often very complex. The enterprise is transforming, embracing a culture of digital diversity that is opening up business by utilizing technologies such as Cloud computing. The job of information systems auditor is an important role in an organization, being responsible for internal controls and reviews of computer information systems. The auditor is not only responsible for using audit software to run reviews, but also for documenting and communicating the findings with other key staff. Other responsibilities may involve understanding the governance of IT systems and the training other auditors. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has accredited the CISA exam, so it is a valuable certification to hold.

Who is this certification for? This is an industry renowned and recognized certificate that is used to demonstrate your capabilities as an information systems auditor. The certification will validate your knowledge in the areas of audit and reporting. It will also demonstrate your capability in vulnerability assessment within IT systems.

Where you would use it: As IT systems become increasingly under attack from both insider and external forces, having someone who can navigate IT systems is important. The CISA certificate shows you have the skills needed to spot critical issues and communicate them to team members. Having a CISA certificate sets you apart as a qualified professional who understands the importance of IT governance and standards. It also gives you a good grounding in the impact of choice and maintenance involved in software acquisition.

CISA Exam Prerequisites & Exam Domains

Prerequisites: To take this exam, you need to have at least five years of information system auditing or security experience. You can reduce the five years to three if you have at least one year of information system experience, a bachelor’s degree that incorporates ISACA modules or a master’s degree in IT or information security.

The exam itself is broken down into 150 questions across five domains:

    • Domain 1: The Process of Auditing Information Systems (21%). Guidance in how to protect and control IS systems.
    • Domain 2: Governance and Management of IT (16%). Audit and assurance the correct roles are in place to support the goals of the organization’s strategy.
    • Domain 3: Information Systems Acquisition, Development and Implementation (18%): Ensure the acquisition, development and implementation of systems align with business objectives.
    • Domain 4: Information Systems Operations, Maintenance and Service Management (20%): Ensure the processes around operations and maintenance are aligned with business objectives.
    • Domain 5: Protection of Information Assets (25%): Ensure alignment of the organization’s standards and procedures and that they fit with the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information assets.

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

The CISM certificate is an internationally recognized way of demonstrating your capability in managing an organization’s information security. According to ISACA, this is one of the most sought-after certifications and holding it can help you command a higher salary. Cybersecurity, as a career, has never been more attractive, or more challenging. Typical roles that benefit from holding a CISM certificate include security architect and chief information security officer (CISO). According to Harvey Nash, the average salary for a CISO is $180,889.

Who is this certification for? Holding a CISM certificate is a way of demonstrating, not only your capability as a security practitioner, but also your commercial knowledge in applying security principles that align to business goals. The certification is seen in industry as an indicator of someone who can build and implement a company security program. Increasingly, risk management, data governance and compliance are seen as vital part of an organization’s security strategy. Having someone who understands how to deliver these pieces within a coherent strategy is a major advantage for an organization.

Where you would use it: More than 30,000 people have been certified as a CISM. The certification is recognized by governments and industries across the world as a valuable professional exam. Once you have this certification under your belt, you will be able to prove you have the right skills to manage a program of security across an organization’s IT systems.

CISM Exam Prerequisites & Exam Domains

Prerequisites: This is a prestigious exam and the requirements for entry are stringent. You must have at least five years of information security work experience. In addition, you are expected to have three years of information security management experience.

You can avoid some of the expected experience requirements if you hold a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) or a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or have a postgraduate degree in information security.

There are 150 questions in the CISM exam, and the work areas covered are broken into four parts:

    • Domain 1: Information Security Governance (24%): This covers the setup and maintenance of an information security governance framework.
    • Domain 2: Information Risk Management (30%): This demonstrates how to apply risk management based on business goals and expectations.
    • Domain 3: Information Security Program Development and Management (27%): Your ability to develop a security program to protect an organization’s assets whilst keeping the program in line with business goals.
    • Domain 4: Information Security Incident Management (19%): Understand how to detect, mitigate and recover from security incidents.

Certified In the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT)

This is a professional certification for those wishing to progress their career in the area of IT governance. IT governance is an increasingly important skill as organizations diversify their IT real estate. It is often described as a subset of enterprise governance. Practitioners of IT governance have the skills to align investments in IT with business strategies and goals, as well as ensure risk management is in place. The need for such alignment has several drivers, including creating competitive edge as well as helping to comply with regulations such as the Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA).

Who is this certification for? The exam is a way to demonstrate that you have a holistic approach to the area of IT governance. The exam is viewed as an indicator of your ability to work in a senior position and to understand how the correct application of IT can benefit the business as a whole.

Where you would use it: Anyone wishing to progress their career to a level of management in IT governance can benefit from the CGEIT certification. Certification in this area shows an ability to work within a C-level environment and to be able to communicate problems and ideas at that level.

CGEIT Exam Prerequisites & Exam Domains

Prerequisites: This is a management-level exam and you need to show at least five years of management experience in an IT-related or governance support position. There are no waivers for the experience required to take this exam, other than being allowed to substitute two years of teaching IT governance at an accredited university for every year of IT governance experience in industry.

The exam is a 150 question paper split into five main areas:

    • Domain 1: Framework for the Governance of Enterprise IT (25%): Establishment of a governance framework to achieve the vision and goals of the organization
    • Domain 2: Strategic Management (20%): Develop and monitor strategic IT planning
    • Domain 3: Benefits Realization (16%): Manage IT investments to ensure optimized benefits
    • Domain 4: Risk Optimization (24%): Develop a holistic IT risk management framework
    • Domain 5: Resource Optimization (15%): Fully optimize IT resources

Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)

Risk management is now a vital part of an enterprise. The IT resources used by a modern company are diverse and often involve third-party services in a Cloud environment. The role of the 21st Century IT professional has to encompass an understanding of the risk to information and systems that introduction of technology can add to an organization.

Who is this certification for? The CRISC exam prepares IT professionals to analyze and assess the pros and cons of using a given technology in their organization. The certification shows the individual is able to assess business risk and to then apply appropriate technical controls.

Where you would use it: Any IT professional wishing to work in a role that involves understanding business risk, as related to IT, would benefit from taking this exam. The CRISC certification encourages continuous professional development and cutting edge thinking on risk management. This makes it a valuable career tool for progressing your career as an IT professional.

CRISC Exam Prerequisites & Exam Domains

Prerequisites: Individuals wishing to take the exam will have to prove that they have relevant work experience.

The exam is 150 questions, split into four main areas:

    • Domain 1: IT Risk Identification (27%): Identification methods in determining IT risk in an organization and executing an IT Risk Management plan
    • Domain 2: IT Risk Assessment (28%): Analyze and evaluate IT risk
    • Domain 3: Risk Response and Mitigation (23%): Understand how to evaluate and capture risk response from stakeholders and align with business objectives
    • Domain 4: Risk and Control Monitoring and Reporting (22%): Understand how to define, monitor, and report key risk indicators (KRIs)

How to Earn Your Next ISACA Certification

Infosec Institute can help you prepare for ISACA exams with hands-on certification Boot Camps taught by experienced security professionals. The following exams are covered by their own dedicated Boot Camp:

CISA Boot Camp: This Boot Camp focuses on the essential areas required for success in the CISA exam. It teaches you all of the skills needed to prevent unauthorized access to information. It is an intensive course, testing your knowledge and showing you how to apply that knowledge in the real world. You will also be given practice CISA questions.

CISM Boot Camp: At 94%, this Boot Camp has the highest exam pass rate in the country. This five-day, instructor-led course is designed to give you the best possible chance of passing the CISM exam. The course is based on the official ISACA CISM review manual, and you’ll use practice questions and model answers to increase your chances of exam success.

CRISC Boot Camp: This Boot Camp is designed and run by IT professionals for IT professionals. It has an excellent rating by course attendees. The Boot Camp takes you through all of the designated exam areas, preparing you for exam success.

CGEIT Boot Camp: This four-day Boot Camp will explain the CGEIT exam process to ensure you are fully-prepared for the exam. Practice questions will help ensure your success.

All InfoSec Boot Camps can be taken in-person or online, or you can enroll in a Mentored Online course and learn at your own pace. In a Mentored Online course, you will take the exact same course as the instructor-led Boot Camp, but carried out at your own pace. You can also interact with 47 online modules taught by an expert instructor.

Conclusion

An IT professional must be at the forefront of technological changes. They are also expected to understand how those changes impact the enterprise and how best to align new technologies to business goals to maintain a competitive edge. Keeping up with these changes and demonstrating your skill in making the most of technology is greatly helped by the certification offered by ISACA. The ISACA exams are not for the faint-hearted. They will test your capability across many areas of IT governance, risk management and information security. The Infosec Institute course offerings, tailored to meet the ISACA exam requirements, can give you the best possible chance of exam success.

 

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