The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification is one of the most sought-after and stringent certifications in the IT industry.
CISSPs are lauded for their ability to design, implement and manage best-in-class cybersecurity programs – something many organizations severely lack today. As a result, companies eagerly seek out CISSP-certified professionals.
Passing the exam requires extensive knowledge about cybersecurity and hands-on experience in the field. Here’s what you need to know to be adequately prepared for the exam so you can earn the CISSP certification on your first attempt.
Want to start preparing for the CISSP today? Check out our CISSP training course.
What Is the CISSP?
CISSP stands for Certified Information Systems Security Professional. Created by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, also known as (ISC)², the certification tests IT professionals on their knowledge of advanced IT security threats, controls and technology.
One of the benefits of the CISSP is that it’s vendor neutral. It allows you to gain crucial experience in managing and implementing a security program without needing to stick with one platform.
The CISSP exam is six hours long. It contains 250 multiple choice and advanced questions meant to assess your knowledge and understanding of the eight domains within the (ISC)² Common Body of Knowledge (CBK).
Who Is the CISSP Meant For?
The CISSP is an advanced certification, so it’s not for everyone. It’s geared toward experienced cybersecurity practitioners, managers and executives who want to validate their knowledge across various cybersecurity principles.
Consider taking the CISSP if you are one of the following:
Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
Chief Information Officer
Security Systems Engineer
How Much Does the CISSP Certification Cost?
The CISSP certification exam typically costs $699, but the exact pricing and additional fees will change depending on where you take it. If you have to reschedule your test, you’ll have to pay a $50 fine. If you need to cancel, you’ll pay $100.
After you pass the exam, you get to keep your certification for the next three years. You’ll need to pay an annual maintenance fee and submit 40 continuing professional education (CPE) credits each year during that time.
Once your three years are up, you’ll have to get recertified.
What Does the CISSP Exam Cover?
The CISSP exam covers all eight of the domains of the Common Body of Knowledge (CBK), which are:
Security and Risk Management
Identity and Access Management
Communications and Network Security
Software Development Security
Security Assessment and Testing
No matter how much experience you have with each domain, you will probably encounter unfamiliar terminology and new concepts in the exam questions. Preparing for the CISSP with training, courseware and self-study aids is the best way to master the eight CBK domains.
Tip: The exam material regularly updates, which is one reason you have to recertify every three years. Make sure any study materials you use are recent.
What Are the CISSP Certification Exam Requirements?
Before taking the CISSP exam, you need to prove that you have at least five years of full-time work experience in at least two of the eight CBK domains.
If you don’t have that much experience, you might be able to satisfy the requirement with four years of experience if you also have a four-year college degree or additional approved credential.
After you pass the CISSP exam, you need to gain an endorsement form signed by an (ISC)2 certified professional and subscribe to the (ISC)2 Code of Ethics.
Tip: Make sure you submit the signed endorsement form within nine months of passing your exam to become fully certified. Passing the test doesn’t automatically grant you certification status.
3 Tips for Passing the CISSP Certification Exam
The CISSP certification exam is notoriously grueling. To demonstrate your expertise in each domain and pass the certification, you have to earn at least 700 points out of a 1,000-point maximum.
Here are three tips to make studying easier and help you pass the CISSP certification exam:
1. Seek Out Multiple Study Sources
The (ISC)2 provides a few resources to help you study for the exam, including an outline, a study guide, practice tests and more. You can also download an official study app, purchase the official textbook and use the CISSP flash cards. But while all of these guides are helpful, it’s not easy to get by on self-study alone.
Multiple study sources, including online and in-person professional training, are your best bet for passing the CISSP exam. You can take a course in a classroom setting with other professionals, opt for private one-on-one training or enroll in a small group course with people you know.
Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP)
2. Partner Up With Your Peers
Studying with other people can foster great group discussions and help you talk through concepts you don’t understand. If you’re planning to attend a training course, you’ll be able to connect with individuals going through the same material.
You can also look for online forums or create a study group of your own. Attend security professionals meetups to connect with people who have already taken the exam and get advice from others.
3. Balance Your Time
Preparing for the CISSP certification exam can take a lot out of you. You’re likely balancing studying with your full-time job and any other personal responsibilities you might have. The best strategy is to set aside specific hours for studying.
Make sure you balance studying with taking practice tests so you’re prepared for all types of questions that will be thrown your way. Plan to study for at least a month or two so you don’t end up cramming the week before your exam date.
Get Ready for the CISSP With New Horizons Training
Are you ready to become a CISSP and prove your skills to potential employers?
New Horizons, the world’s largest IT training company, provides expert-led CISSP training to help you prepare for the exam with confidence. Check out our CISSP course and learn how it can help you turn a six-hour test into a lasting accomplishment in your career.