What is the Difference Between CISA and CISM?

What is the Difference Between CISA and CISM?

What is the Difference Between CISA and CISM?

difference between cisa and cism

Information Security is a vast field with various domains falling under it. Hence, the difference between CISA and CISM-certified professionals is unidentified. Companies recruit eligible and credible professionals who act as the company’s backbone. Therefore, CISM certification and CISA Certification gives assurance of the skills and practical knowledge of an individual. But there is tremendous confusion in choosing the certification when it comes to CISM vs CISA. Also, people have a great misconception about the difference between CISA and CISM. So, this blog is to clear out the distinct difference.

Although both the certification involve the Information Security industry, the distinct features set them apart. This offers diverged career paths in the IT field. So, CISA and CISM are the two sides of the same coin. You will ask which is better CISA or CISM? That is completely conventional as the comparison of CISA and CISM is totally up to you. But if you ask us which one will prove the best for you to get ahead in your career? That’s where we play our role. So, we save your day and your trouble. We wish to offer you a detailed guide to choose the best certification for your career.

The difference between CISA and CISM are-



Job ProfileIT Auditor, Consultant, Security Professional, Audit Manager, Non-IT-AuditorInfoSec Manager, CIO, Enterprise Leadership, Risk Manager
DomainsInformation System Auditing Process,
Governance and Management of IT, Information Systems, Acquisition, Development and Implementation,
Information Systems Operations
and Business Resilience, and Protection of Information Assets
First is Information Security Governance, second is Information Risk Management,
third is Information Security Program Development and Management,
and last is Information Security Incident Management
Level Standard Level Intermediate to Expert Level
Salary The US $ 110K+The US $ 118K+
Exam Requirements5 years experience in related domains5 years experience including 3 years in the specific domain


1. Job Profile difference between CISA and CISM

We wish to clear the acronyms to you before we jump on to describing the eligibility criteria to pursue the certification. The ‘IS’ in CISA and CISM stands for Information Systems and Information Security respectively. This mainly separates the two high-paid IT certifications’ core job profiles.

  • CISA- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification is for professionals already working in the auditing field and behold relevant experience. They have skills in evaluating Information System vulnerabilities, expertise in generating compliance reports and institutional control to manage IT infrastructure. Hence, both practitioners and experts of the Audit field can take up CISA.
  • CISM- Certified Information Security Management (CISM) Certification fits best for those who have excelled in their career and taken up managerial positions in their respective companies. Thus, it is specifically designed to train such professionals to disperse expertise and additional knowledge. It helps in making effective decisions in the field of business and security management, security program development, security incident management, risk analysis. Ultimately, they look after disaster recovery planning and designing and business impact analysis to accordingly assess the IT security management of the company.

Fact: Amongst all the above differences, the only similarity in both the certification is the preparation for risk management positions in the company. Well, everyone is a risk-taker in the field of IT.

2. Work Domains

Though both the certifications are for the professionals of the same industry, that is, Information Technology, the work domains have distinction. This further elaborate the job profile of the professional pursuing CISA and CISM:

  • CISA: CISA Certification is for the aspirants who wish to enter, progress and attain expertise in the below-mentioned domains:
    1. Information System Auditing Process
    2. Governance and Management of IT
    3. Information Systems Acquisition, Development and Implementation
    4. Information Systems Operations and Business Resilience
    5. Protection of Information Assets
  • CISM: The professionals are particularly fit for the following domains. CISM Certification is the door-knob to excel and earn expertise in the same.
  1. First, Information Security Governance
  2. Second, Information Risk Management
  3. Third, Information Security Program Development and Management
  4. Fourth,Information Security Incident Managament
difference between cisa and cism

3. Difference of level between CISA and CISM

In addition, every certification brings its level of difficulty and dedicated preparations are a must to crack any certification test. Though, the definition of the level of difficulty is subjective as it can be different for every individual. In other words, CISM can be easier for a Security Manager but difficult for a System administrator or auditor. So, CISA and CISM certifications do not have a comparison as per the level of difficulty in the test. But they can be further defined as per the level of certification.

  • CISA: CISA as a certification course can be categorised under the standard-level certification course for professionals looking forward to excelling in the auditing field.
  • CISM: Since CISM certification is for the professional already expertise in the field of security management, it won’t be wrong if we call it an Intermediate or even Expert level Certification Course.

4. CISA vs CISM: Salary

As per ISACA, the certification holders of both CISA and CISM enjoy a good salary along with an enriching work environment. Generally, CISM overpowers CISA salary but the appreciating job roles do not discourage the aspiring professionals of the auditing field It rather boosts their motivation to perform incredibly well in the workspace. Therefore the comparison between CISA and CISM salary is as follows:

  • CISA: The average salary of a CISA holder is more than $110K with a 22% potential pay boost. So, if you’re an auditor aspiring to boost your salary and career, you should enrol in our CISA Certification.
  • CISM: Similarly, CISM provides a guaranteed pay boost as per the research and various testimonials. With a 42% boost in the salary of managerial roles, CISM holders earn more than $118K. There should be no second thought to pursue CISM Certification after this figure!

5. Exam Requirements:

Like every certification, CISA and CISM aspirants have to meet certain exam requirements to become eligible to appear for the certification timely. The general requirement of 5 years of experience remains the same in both certifications. But there is something more to it that every aspiring professional should be aware of for the comparison between CISA and CISM.

  • CISA: The CISA candidates should necessarily have professional work experience in audit, control, and/or information systems security along with the 5 years of experience. In addition, CISA students also nedd to attend online review classes, be well-versed with software usage, and study various manuals and guide as per the CISA syllabus. They will also have to level up to meet the Information Security Standards after the CISA training programme.
  • CISM: CISM Certification requires five years of professional experience. Out of five, three years of experience is mandatory in the security management field. The work training requires knowledge of security program development, security incident management or a risk management program. Also, leadership quality is a salient requirement in this field.
difference between cisa and cism


So, the difference between CISA and CISM is relatively simpler for those who have a focused vision in their career. Though, it is a pro-tip that if you’re looking to establish yourself in IT, you should take up both the certification to broaden the horizon of experience and knowledge. In conclusion, the key to your car is in your hands. So, take the road that best suits your career needs. If you’re facing trouble choosing CISA vs CISM, then ZOC is always at your rescue.

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