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Understanding CISM vs CISSP: How They Differ and What They Offer


The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) are the two most important cybersecurity-related credentials. Both are highly regarded and offer great perks for people who work in cybersecurity. But, which of the two certifications is worth getting first?

CISM vs. CISSP: Understanding Each Certification

Two well-known certifications in information security are CISM and CISSP, but what does each certification mean?

CISM (Certified Information Security Manager)

CISM emphasizes handling security information and is ideal for people responsible for an organization’s information security. The CISM exam includes four main areas: overseeing information security, managing risks, developing security strategies, and handling security issues. To get certified, you must have worked in information security management for five years, with three of those years spent in each of the three CISM areas.

CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional)

CISSP certification is for experienced security professionals, managers, and executives looking to understand different security methods.

The test covers areas like managing security and risk, keeping assets safe, building and engineering, keeping communication and networks safe, managing identities and access, testing and assessment, and running the business. Those who want to apply must have worked full-time in at least two areas for five years.

CISM focuses more on information security management and control, while CISSP covers more security topics. Which one you pick will depend on your job goals and how good you are at cybersecurity.

Difference Between CISSP and CISM

CISM certification and CISSP are two prominent certifications in the field of information security, but they differ in focus and scope. Here’s a breakdown of the main differences between CISSP and CISM:

Certification Focus

CISSP: This certification involves various security topics, including asset protection, risk management, network and communication design and construction, identity and access management, security testing and assessment, and secure operations.

CISM: Conversely, CISM emphasizes the administrative and legal aspects of information security. Information security policy, information risk management, developing and managing information security programs, and incident management comprise the four primary components.

Certification Requirements

CISSP: Applicants must have five years of full-time job experience and two years of paid experience in at least two of the eight CISSP Common Body of Knowledge categories.

CISM: You need five years of information security management experience, including three years in three or more CISM areas.

Exam Structure

CISSP: The CISSP test has 100 to 150 multiple-choice questions you must finish in three hours. At least 700 out of 1000 points are needed to pass.

CISM: On the contrary, comprises 150 multiple-choice inquiries that require a four-hour time limit for completion. Passing requires a minimum score of 450 out of 800 points.

CISM vs. CISSP Salary and Career Prospects

CISSP: People who are certified as CISSPs are in high demand and often make more money than people who aren’t certified. The typical person with a CISSP certification makes about $116,000 a year.

CISM: Professionals certified in CISM also have good job chances and make an average of $133,000 a year.

Is CISM harder than CISSP?

The CISM and CISSP certifications are both challenging, but CISSP is often considered harder.

The CISSP certification is mostly about managing security and risks, keeping assets safe, building and designing things, keeping communication and networks safe, managing identities and access, testing and evaluating, and running things.

But CISM is more about controlling and monitoring how information is kept safe. Information security governance, risk management, program creation and administration, and incident management are some things it talks about.

The difficulty of each certification depends on your background and experience. It’s important to prepare well for either exam by studying the required topics and getting practical experience in information security.

CISSP vs. CISM: Which is the best security certification?

CISSP and CISM certifications are highly valued in cybersecurity and can help you advance your career. Your skills and career goals will determine which certification is right for you. If you prefer a technical role, CISSP might be the better choice. However, if you’re interested in management and governance, CISM could be a better fit. Ultimately, both certifications demonstrate your commitment to excelling in information protection.


  • Hailey Wilkinson

    Hailey is an accomplished writer with eight years of experience in top tech magazines, specializing in all things smart and innovative. As a tech aficionado, she is always up to date with the latest gadgets and appliances. When she's not immersed in the digital world, you can find her collecting sneakers or venturing into the great outdoors. Hailey is a versatile individual with a passion for technology, fashion, and the beauty of nature.