If you’ve closely monitored our annual list of highest-paying certifications included in our IT Skills and Salary Report, you’ve probably noticed a few constants over the years.
- Salaries associated with certifications are trending upward.
- Cybersecurity and cloud tend to dominate the top-paying certifications.
- Project management credentials are always sprinkled throughout the top 10.
- The salaries are substantially higher than industry average—sometimes over 20% depending on the region.
If you take a look at our 2019 list, you’ll notice another fixture: CISSP - Certified Information Systems Security Professional.
This year, CISSP-certified IT professionals have the third highest global salary ($116,573) and the 10th highest in North America ($123,815). This is nothing new—CISSP has ranked in the top 10 in the U.S. each year since 2015, even coming in first in 2018. (Note: CISSP wasn’t included in our top-paying certification list in 2014 because it missed the inclusion threshold by one respondent. It would have ranked third.)
CISSP is a top-paying certification year after year. But how has it remained so relevant and valuable?
CISSP validates years of cybersecurity experience
Created by (ISC)2, the CISSP certification intends to prove cybersecurity expertise. CISSP-certified professionals tend to be more tenured and thus, have larger paychecks than the average IT professional.
Attaining this credential is proof of years of security experience. It’s not for newbies—achieving your CISSP has been likened to earning a master’s degree in IT security. It also requires you to have at least five years of full-time, relevant job experience before attempting the incredibly-demanding exam.
“Any organization with sensitive critical infrastructure and assets will look to the CISSP as a staple when screening prospective candidates for open cybersecurity leadership positions,” said Brad Puckett, Global Knowledge’s global portfolio director of cybersecurity. “Additionally, the CISSP has proven to be a solid boost in career salary results among certification-holders versus non-holders.”
Eight domains are covered in the CISSP exam:
- Security and Risk Management
- Asset Security
- Security Architecture and Engineering
- Communications and Network Security
- Identity and Access Management (IAM)
- Security Assessment and Testing
- Security Operations
- Software Development Security
The three-hour certification exam pings the student with questions on each domain, looking for weaknesses. The number of questions varies depending on performance—it ranges between 100 and 150 questions.
With expertise in all eight of these areas, CISSPs are truly authorities on critical security topics and routinely prove their value to their organization.
Cybersecurity salaries are some of the highest in the world
If earning potential is important, cybersecurity has a proven track record. In our list of the highest-paying certifications worldwide, four of the top 20 are security-related, including CISSP.
IT professionals with security certifications tend to have significantly higher average salaries. In North America, the average salary for security-certified individuals is $119,742, nine percent above the average IT professional. The same is true for other regions, with security professionals making on average 12% more in Latin America, eight percent more in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and six percent more in the Asia-Pacific region.
Cybersecurity certifications are also the most widely-held in our report, with over 26% of total respondents having at least one cybersecurity certification.
CISSP has staying power
This certification was unveiled in 1994 and is currently held by over 122,000 people worldwide. Of the 16,200-plus IT professionals who took part in our IT Skills and Salary Survey, over 1,300 are CISSP-certified.
In fact, the CISSP certification was the first of its kind to meet the stringent requirements of International Organization for Standardization and International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC) 17024 standards.
It’s no wonder why CISSP-certified employees are trusted to define the architecture, design, management and controls to ensure an organization’s security. There’s a lot riding on their success. Experienced security professionals are needed to protect valuable information, and CISSPs are often viewed as the best people to handle the job.
“The CISSP certification is held by over 130,000 credentialed (ISC)2 members globally and remains as a milestone achievement for those seeking to advance into senior leadership roles within cybersecurity organizations,” Puckett said.
How to prepare for the CISSP exam
The CISSP certification exam is challenging, but the benefits for you and your bank account are worth it. Students should begin studying for CISSP well before taking a review class. By knowing areas of weakness, they’ll know where they should focus their efforts and get more value out of a CISSP Certification Prep Course.
CISSP is complemented by other security certifications from CompTIA, ISACA, EC-Council and others. A strong cybersecurity team needs certifications from several organizations to be well-rounded.
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- 18 IT and Business Certifications Worth Having
- 2019 IT Skills and Salary Report