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Last Updated On: June 26, 2024

Are you at a crossroads in your tech career, wondering which certification path to take? You're not alone! The debate between CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) and AWS (Amazon Web Services) certifications is a hot topic in the IT world, and for good reason. Both offer exciting opportunities, but which one is the right fit for you?

Whether you're passionate about cybersecurity or you're fascinated by cloud computing, we've got you covered. This guide will break down the key aspects of both certifications, compare their benefits and drawbacks, and help you determine which one aligns best with your career goals.

Ready to dive in and make an informed choice? Let's get started!

What is CISSP?

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) s a globally recognized certification in the field of cybersecurity. Administered by ISC2, the CISSP certification validates your expertise and skills in designing, implementing, and managing a best-in-class cybersecurity program. It is one of the most sought-after credentials for professionals aiming to advance their careers in information security.

The CISSP certification covers eight domains, including Security and Risk Management, Asset Security, Security Architecture and Engineering, and more. It provides a comprehensive framework for security professionals to safeguard their organization’s data and infrastructure against threats and vulnerabilities.

Achieving CISSP certification demonstrates your commitment to the cybersecurity field and proves that you have the necessary skills to protect organizations from a wide range of security threats. It’s a mark of excellence that can significantly boost your career prospects in an ever-evolving industry.

What Is AWS?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a comprehensive and widely adopted cloud platform offered by Amazon. It provides over 200 fully-featured services from data centers globally. AWS is a cornerstone in the realm of cloud computing, enabling organizations to innovate faster and reduce IT costs while scaling applications seamlessly.

Unlike CISSP, AWS isn't a certification itself. However, it offers various certifications that validate your expertise in using AWS services. These certifications are designed for different roles and skill levels, including:

  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect (Associate and Professional)
  • AWS Certified Developer (Associate)
  • AWS Certified SysOps Administrator (Associate)
  • AWS Certified DevOps Engineer (Professional)
  • AWS Certified Security – Specialty
  • AWS Certified Big Data – Specialty

Each certification focuses on specific areas of cloud computing, ensuring that professionals can demonstrate their specialized skills. AWS certifications help you advance your career by showcasing your ability to design, deploy, and manage applications on the AWS platform.

CISSP vs. CySA+: Pros and Cons

Feature

CISSP

AWS

Focus

Technical aspects of information security.

Cloud computing services and solutions.

Pros

  • Recognized globally across industries.
  • Opens doors to technical and high-level security roles.
  • Comprehensive coverage of information security topics.
  • Wide range of certifications for various roles and skills.
  • High demand for AWS-certified professionals.
  • Demonstrates expertise in a leading cloud platform.

Cons

  • Requires broad knowledge, making it challenging to prepare for.
  • May be too technical for professionals interested in management roles.
  • Each certification focuses on specific skills and may require multiple certifications for comprehensive knowledge.
  • Rapidly evolving services require constant learning and updates.

CISSP vs. AWS Certifications: How Do They Differ?

It’s pretty clear that CISSP and AWS certifications are distinct from one another, catering to different aspects of the tech industry. However, let's break it down even further to help you make an informed decision. Understanding their core differences will guide you in choosing the certification that aligns best with your career goals and interests.

Prerequisites

Some certifications require prior experience, while others are more accessible to beginners. Understanding these prerequisites can help you determine which certification path is right for you. So what experiences do you need for these certifications?

CISSP Prerequisites

Thinking about getting the CISSP? If so, be prepared to bring some experience to the table. To qualify, you need at least five years of paid work experience in two or more of the eight CISSP domains, which include Security and Risk Management, Asset Security, Security Operations, and more.

Don’t have the experience yet? No worries! You can still take the exam and become an Associate of ISC2. This gives you six years to earn the required experience. Plus, if you hold a four-year college degree or an approved credential, you can knock off one year from the experience requirement. CISSP is designed for those serious about climbing the cybersecurity ladder.

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AWS Certifications Prerequisite

AWS certifications are a bit more flexible, making them great for a wide range of professionals. For associate-level certifications like AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate, AWS Certified Developer – Associate, and AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate, it's recommended to have around a year of hands-on experience with AWS services.

Looking at professional-level or specialty certifications, such as AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional or AWS Certified Security – Specialty? You'll need about two or more years of deep, hands-on experience with AWS environments.

While AWS doesn’t enforce these prerequisites strictly, having practical experience with AWS services can make a huge difference in your preparation and confidence. AWS certifications are your gateway to showcasing cloud expertise, whether you're just starting or looking to specialize further.

Pro tip: If you get your AWS Certified Security - Specialty before the CISSP, you can substitute one year of the required experience for CISSP. This can be a strategic move to accelerate your journey in the cybersecurity world while gaining valuable cloud security expertise. It’s a win-win that can set you apart in both fields!

Exam Details

Knowing the exam coverage can help you decide which certification aligns with your career goals. Let’s dive into the specifics of the CISSP and AWS certification exams so you know what to expect and how to prepare effectively.

CISSP Exam Details

The CISSP exam is now delivered in a Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) format, regardless of the language you choose. This format adjusts the difficulty of questions based on your responses, providing a tailored testing experience.

The exam is available in several languages, including English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, and Korean. It consists of 100-150 multiple-choice and advanced innovative questions, and you have up to three hours to complete it. The exam covers eight domains, each with its own weight:

  1. Security and Risk Management (16%)
  2. Asset Security (10%)
  3. Security Architecture and Design (13%)
  4. Communication and Network Security (13%)
  5. Identity and Access Management (IAM) (13%)
  6. Security Assessment and Testing (12%)
  7. Security Operations (13%)
  8. Software Development Security (10%)

This comprehensive coverage ensures you have a robust understanding of key cybersecurity concepts.

AWS Certifications Exam Details

AWS certifications are designed to cater to various roles and expertise levels within the cloud ecosystem. The exams, typically multiple-choice and multiple-response, vary in duration from 90 to 180 minutes depending on the certification level.

Offered in several languages including English, Japanese, Korean, and Simplified Chinese, these certifications are structured to validate practical knowledge and hands-on skills with AWS services. Whether you're aiming for an associate, professional, or specialty certification, AWS exams ensure you are well-prepared to manage and deploy AWS solutions in real-world scenarios.

Career Opportunities and Salary

Choosing the right certification isn't just about the exam content; it's also about where it can take you. Both CISSP and AWS certifications open doors to exciting career opportunities and can significantly impact your earning potential. Let’s explore what each certification can offer you in terms of career growth and salary.

CISSP Career Opportunities and Salary

Earning a CISSP certification can catapult you into advanced roles in the cybersecurity field. With this certification, you can pursue senior positions like Security Analyst, Security Manager, Security Architect, and even Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).

The average salary for CISSP-certified professionals is around US $120,552 annually. However, your exact salary can vary based on your specific role, location, and level of experience. This certification is highly respected across industries, making you a competitive candidate for top-tier security positions

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AWS Certifications Career Opportunities and Salary

AWS certifications can significantly enhance your career in cloud computing. The salary range for AWS-certified professionals is broad, reflecting the various levels of expertise and roles available. Entry-level positions, such as AWS Cloud Practitioner, typically earn around US $41,278 per year.

As you gain experience and achieve higher-level certifications, you can move into senior roles, like AWS Solutions Architect or DevOps Engineer, with potential salaries soaring up to US $114,000 annually or more. Do note that the exact salary can vary depending on where you’re located, your experience, and the specific role you’re applying for.

Certification Cost and Renewal

When choosing a certification, it's important to consider not just the exam cost but also the ongoing renewal requirements. Both CISSP and AWS certifications have specific costs and renewal processes that you should factor into your decision. Let’s break down what you can expect.

CISSP Certification Cost and Renewa

Depending on your region, the CISSP exam costs between US $699 and US $749. However, the exam fee is just one part of the equation. You also need to account for other expenses, such as books, courses, practice exams, and other resources you may need to prepare for the exam.

Once certified, you’ll need to maintain your CISSP status by earning Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits and paying an annual maintenance fee of US $125. Every three years, you'll need to recertify by earning 120 CPE credits, ensuring that your knowledge stays current with the evolving cybersecurity landscape. This commitment to ongoing education ensures that CISSP professionals remain at the forefront of the industry.

AWS Certifications Certification Cost and Renewal

AWS certifications are generally more affordable, with costs varying based on the certification level. The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam is $100, associate-level exams are $150, and professional-level and specialty exams are $300. Keep in mind that taxes, such as Value Added Tax (VAT), may apply.

AWS certifications are valid for three years, after which you'll need to recertify. This process helps you stay up-to-date with the latest AWS technologies and best practices, ensuring that your skills remain relevant in the fast-paced world of cloud computing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is CISSP the Hardest?

The CISSP exam is considered one of the most challenging certifications in the cybersecurity field. Its broad scope, covering eight domains, requires extensive knowledge and experience. However, with dedicated study and preparation, passing the exam is achievable.

Why Do People Fail CISSP?

People often fail the CISSP exam due to the extensive breadth of topics covered, underestimating the exam's difficulty, and inadequate preparation. Successful candidates typically have a solid study plan, practical experience, and a deep understanding of the exam domains. Enrolling in a dynamic course like Destination Certification CISSP MasterClass can help you pass the test on the first try.

Does CISSP Expire After 3 Years?

Yes, the CISSP certification expires after three years. To maintain your certification, you must earn 120 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits and pay an annual maintenance fee of $125 over the three-year period. This ensures that you stay current with industry developments and maintain your expertise.

CISSP vs. AWS Certifications: Choosing the Right Certification

Deciding between CISSP and AWS certifications ultimately comes down to your career goals and interests. If you're passionate about cybersecurity and want to delve into protecting and managing information systems, the CISSP certification is a prestigious and comprehensive choice that can open doors to advanced security roles.

On the other hand, if cloud computing excites you and you're looking to become proficient in AWS services, AWS certifications offer a clear path to becoming a cloud expert, with numerous opportunities in one of the fastest-growing sectors in tech.

However, it’s not just about choosing one over the other, but rather deciding which certification to pursue first. In the IT industry, earning multiple certifications is often preferred and can significantly enhance your career prospects. By holding both CISSP and AWS certifications, you can position yourself as a versatile professional with a broad skill set, making you even more valuable to employers.

If you decide to go for the CISSP certification, let Destination Certification be your support throughout this journey. Our CISSP MasterClass is designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in cybersecurity. Led by experts with years of experience in the field, our course adjusts to your current knowledge and schedule, ensuring you get the most out of your preparation. Start your journey to certification success with us today!

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Rob Witcher

Rob is the driving force behind the success of the Destination Certification CISSP program, leveraging over 15 years of security, privacy, and cloud assurance expertise. As a seasoned leader, he has guided numerous companies through high-profile security breaches and managed the development of multi-year security strategies. With a passion for education, Rob has delivered hundreds of globally acclaimed CCSP, CISSP, and ISACA classes, combining entertaining delivery with profound insights for exam success. You can reach out to Rob on LinkedIn.

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