What's the Difference Between the CISSP and the CISM Certifications?

Both the CISSP and CISM certifications are designed to improve the information security of businesses. Both require passing an exam, completing at least 5 years of work experience, agreeing to a code of ethics, and completing a requisite number of continuing education hours upon receiving certification. Both are also valuable certifications in the information security sector that can advance your career in one way or another. That being said, there are some key differences to consider when deciding which certification is right for you.

The CISSP Certification

CISSP, which stands for “Certified Information Security Systems Professional,” is a certification offered by (ISC)2 that indicates an individual’s ability to deal with the tactical side of information security systems in a business. This means that they’re able to implement and maintain an information security system. The domains covered by the CISSP certification are as follows:

  • Domain 1: Security and Risk Management
  • Domain 2: Asset Security
  • Domain 3: Security Architecture and Engineering
  • Domain 4: Communication and Network Security
  • Domain 5: Identity and Access Management
  • Domain 6: Security Assessment and Testing
  • Domain 7: Security Operations
  • Domain 8: Software Development Security

These domains are more technical than managerial, and as such this certification is for people interested in a technically-focused job trajectory.
For more information about the CISSP certification, click here.

The CISM Certification

CISM, which stands for “Certified Information Security Manager,” is a certification offered by ISACA that shows an individual’s ability to implement information security programs into a business in order to accomplish the business’ overall goals. If your career trajectory is headed in a managerial direction rather than a tactical one, the CISM may be the right certification for you. It covers the technical aspects of information security only basically, as the focus of the certification is management.  The domains covered by the CISM certification are as follows:

  • Domain 1: Information Security Governance
  • Domain 2: Information Risk Management
  • Domain 3: Information Security Program Development and Maintenance
  • Domain 4: Information Security Incident Management

For more information about the CISM certification, click here.

Getting Both CISSP and CISM Certifications

It’s not uncommon for an information securities professional to decide to pursue both the CISSP and CISM certification. If you choose to pursue both certifications, it’s often a good idea to get CISSP-certified first in order to learn the technical skills behind information securities programs. Then, if it still interests you and you have a desire to advance to more managerial positions within the information securities sector, you can use the CISM certification to build upon your prior knowledge. Instead of viewing the CISSP and CISM certifications as separate certifications with different goals, try to see the two as complementary certifications that provide people with the tools necessary to support businesses and their information security networks from multiple viewpoints. While the CISSP may be more technically-focused and the CISM may be more managerially-focused, the skills learned through both certifications are helpful in ensuring the success of a company’s information security system.

Both the CISM and the CISSP are designed to cover a broad range of cybersecurity knowledge from a managerial perspective, and for that reason, many candidates tend to either confuse the two or struggle to determine which certification is right for them. Download this free whitepaper to determine whether you should pursue the CISSP, CISM, or both.