best selling ISACA-Certifications

How to choose the best ISACA certification path for your career

ISACA offers a variety of certification options that are aligned with different roles, skill sets and job responsibilities. The main ISACA certifications are listed below:

  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)
  5. CDPSE (Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer)
  6. CSX-P (CSX Cybersecurity Practitioner)

ISACA also offers certificate paths (different from the more in-depth certifications above). These include COBIT-related certificates, such as:

  1. COBIT 2019 Foundation
  2. COBIT 2019 Design and Implementation
  3. Implementing the NIST Cybersecurity Framework Using COBIT 2019

A note on COBIT

COBIT 5, released in 2012, is the predecessor to COBIT 2019. The latter was designed to reflect the way that modern technology impacts cybersecurity risk. COBIT 2019 includes frameworks such as TOGAF, CMMI, and ITIL. COBIT 2019 is a more coherent and connected program than COBIT 5.

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

IT systems are often very complex. The enterprise is transforming and embracing a culture of digital diversity and cloud computing. The result is hyper-connectivity across the workforce and IT network. The job of an information systems auditor (ISA) is an important role in an organization. An ISA is 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 training other auditors. Completing training and certification as a CISA demonstrates your ability to do the job well.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has accredited the CISA exam, so it is a valuable ISACA qualification to hold.

Who is this certification for?

This is an industry-renowned and recognized certificate that is used to demonstrate the skills needed to be 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 would you 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 shows you are 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 and 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: information system auditing process (21%). Guidance in how to protect and control IS systems
  • Domain 2: governance and management of IT (17%). Audit and assurance the correct roles are in place to support the goals of the organization’s strategy
  • Domain 3: information systems acquisition and development (12%). Includes project governance and management, and lifecycle management of testing and releases
  • Domain 4: information systems operations and business resilience (23%). Ensure the processes around operations and maintenance are aligned with business objectives
  • Domain 5: protection of information assets (27%). Ensure alignment of the organization’s standards and procedures and that they fit with the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information assets. It includes measures such as encryption and PKI, and identity and access management

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

The ISACA CISM certificate is an internationally recognized ISACA qualification demonstrating your ability to manage an organization’s information security. According to ISACA, this is one of the most sought-after security 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, the average salary for a CISO is $222,950.

Who is this certification for?

Holding a CISM certificate is a way of demonstrating your capability as a security practitioner and commercial knowledge in applying security principles that align with business goals. The certification is seen in the industry as an indicator of someone who can build and implement a company security program. Increasingly, risk management and data governance, and compliance are a vital part of an organization’s security strategy. Having someone who understands how to deliver these pieces alongside a coherent strategy is a major advantage for an organization.

Where would you use it?

More than 46,000 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 and 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. Also, 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%). Covers the setup and maintenance of an information security governance framework
  • Domain 2: information risk management (30%). Demonstrates how to apply risk management based on business goals and expectations
  • Domain 3: information security program development and management (27%). 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 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 a 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.

Where would you 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 and exam domains

Prerequisites: This is a management-level exam, and you need 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 the industry.

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

  • Domain 1: governance of enterprise IT (40%). Establishment of a governance framework to achieve the vision and goals of the organization
  • Domain 2: IT resources (15%). Develop and monitor strategic IT planning
  • Domain 3: benefits realization (26%). Manage IT investments to ensure optimized benefits
  • Domain 4: risk optimization (19%). Develop a holistic IT risk management framework

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 modern IT professional must encompass an understanding of the risk to information and systems that the introduction of technology can add to an organization.

Who is this certification for? 

The CRISC exam readies IT, professionals, to analyze and assess the pros and cons of using a given technology in their organization. The certification shows the individual can assess business risk and can then apply appropriate technical controls.

Where would you 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 and 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)

CDPSE (Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer)

Privacy has taken center stage alongside security in an enterprise setting. The privacy of personal and corporate data is heavily regulated and requires specialist knowledge to understand the highly nuanced details of how to maintain data privacy. Data privacy specialists are involved in areas such as Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs), understanding what strategies are used to protect privacy, including security measures like encryption and measures such as data minimization as well as the governance of data. Understanding the lifecycle of data and how to classify it also plays a large role in ensuring that privacy is correctly applied.

Who is this certification for? 

The CDPSE is a technical, hands-on certification for people wishing to specialize in privacy matters. This is a new exam from ISACA and is an exam aimed at privacy engineers, privacy analysts, privacy managers, privacy architects, privacy consultants, and others in the privacy field.

Where would you use it? 

Privacy is a cross-disciplinary field and the exam is designed to measure the ability to work with folks from legal, policy, engineering, and so on. Holding a CDPSE certificate will demonstrate that you are able to:

  • Build and implement privacy measures
  • Understand and advise on data lifecycle regulatory requirements
  • Understand the principles of and be able to implement Privacy by Design (PbD)
  • Map privacy requirements to the goals and needs of the business.
  • Communicate across teams on privacy matters

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