How Can I Be a Certified Information Systems Security Professional?

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as a Certified Information Systems Security Professional. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and certification information. Schools offering Computer Forensics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional?

Being a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) indicates that an individual is knowledgeable about information security systems and meets the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium standards. While this designation is not required for employment in the field, getting your certification will make you stand out among your competition when it comes to securing long-term employment. Certified professionals are experts in many areas, including ethics, investigations, cryptography, and operations security.

Two major careers that benefit from CISSP certification are information security managers and information security analysts. Both work to protect the security of a company's networks and databases, though managers tend to take a supervisory role and liaison with top executives about possible upgrades or issues. Below is a table listing some career facts about these two job options for individuals with a CISSP.

Information Security Managers Information Security Analysts
Degree Required Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Computer related Computer science or programming
Certification Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
Job Growth (2014-2024) 15% (for all computer and information systems managers)* 18% (for all information security analysts)*
Median Salary (May 2015) $131,600 (for computer and information security managers)* $90,120 (for all information security analysts)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is CISSP Certification?

CISSP certification is an industry-recognized certification that verifies the knowledge base of information systems security professionals. More than 64,000 security professionals throughout the world are certified. The certification program is administered by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2.

What Are the Eligibility Requirements?

In order to take the CISSP exam, you must submit an application and fee, possess at least five years of information security experience, or have an appropriate combination of education and work experience. Additionally, you must agree to adhere to a code of ethics and answer a few background questions. If you do not have sufficient experience to obtain complete certification, you may earn an Associate of (ISC)2 designation by successfully completing the exam.

How Do I Become Certified?

There are a variety of vendors who offer training for the CISSP exam, including the CISSP organization. Seminars, boot camps and practice tests are all available. The training covers the Common Body of Knowledge, often referred to as the CBK. The CBK covers ten domains, from which the exam questions are drawn. The domain topics include business continuity planning, cryptography, security management practices, law, investigation & ethics, physical security, telecommunications, operations security and more.

You have six hours to complete the 250 questions on the CISSP examination, although the average test-taker requires approximately four hours. The multiple-choice questions cover all ten domains in the CBK. The question pool includes up to 150 new questions each year in order to ensure the test incorporates current practices.

To achieve certification, you must meet the eligibility requirements, pass the examination and submit a completed endorsement form. The endorsement form must be completed by another certified professional; a copy is sent to those who pass the test. You could be audited to ensure your professional experience and background were reported accurately.

What Are Continuing Education Requirements?

Professionals must pay an annual fee in order to maintain their certification credentials. Additionally, you must earn continuing education credits through a variety of methods during a 3-year period. Options for earning credits include educational courses, seminars, meetings, conferences and college coursework.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Many alternate careers exist in the field of information security and technology. Network and computer systems administrators are directly responsible for daily maintenance and upkeep of an organization's networks. Computer network architects are those who design and implement networks for their companies, ranging from local area to wide area, as well as intranet systems. Positions also exist for hardware engineers, who test entire systems along with their components, which include processors, routers, and circuit boards.

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