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Last Updated On: April 23, 2024

If you want to elevate your cybersecurity career with top cybersecurity certifications such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or the Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) can be a game-changer. Both credentials are highly esteemed within the industry, opening doors to opportunities that often remain closed to those without such certifications.

However, their focus areas differ significantly, catering to distinct career paths within the cybersecurity domain. So, how do you decide which one best suits your professional ambitions?

That's exactly what we're here to unpack. In this article, we'll explore the core differences between CISSP and CRISC, providing you with the clarity needed to make an informed decision about your career's next phase. Let's explore these certifications in detail and find out which one best suits your professional journey.

What is CISSP?

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) is a globally recognized certification granted by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, commonly known as ISC2.

This prestigious credential is designed for seasoned IT professionals seeking to demonstrate their expertise and skills in cybersecurity. The CISSP certification covers a wide range of topics that are essential for information security, including but not limited to security and risk management, asset security, security architecture and engineering, and software development security.

Earning the CISSP credential signifies that an individual possesses a deep and broad knowledge of all aspects of cybersecurity, making them highly capable of designing, implementing, and managing a best-in-class cybersecurity program.

Benefits of CISSP Certification

Recognized globally, the CISSP credential signals a profound level of expertise and commitment to the field, distinguishing you from your peers in the competitive landscape of IT security. Here are some key benefits of obtaining the CISSP certification:

  • Enhanced Career Opportunities: CISSP certification is highly regarded by employers worldwide, often serving as a prerequisite for senior cybersecurity roles.
  • Increased Earning Potential: CISSP holders typically enjoy higher salary prospects compared to those without the certification.
  • Professional Credibility: Achieving CISSP status demonstrates your deep knowledge and experience in cybersecurity, earning you respect and credibility in the industry.
  • Networking Opportunities: Join a unique community of certified professionals that offers networking, collaboration, and learning opportunities.
  • Commitment to the Field: Holding a CISSP certification shows your dedication to continuous learning and ethical practice in cybersecurity, aligning with the highest industry standards.

What Is CRISC?

The Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) certification is awarded by ISACA, a global association recognized for its IT governance, risk, and information systems control standards.

This certification is tailored for IT professionals, project managers, and others who play a pivotal role in identifying and managing risks through the development, implementation, and maintenance of information systems controls. CRISC certification focuses on four key areas: risk identification, risk assessment, risk response and mitigation, and risk and control monitoring and reporting.

Obtaining the CRISC demonstrates a professional's ability to understand and manage IT risk and implement and maintain control systems. This certification is particularly valuable for those looking to specialize in risk management and information systems control, making it a sought-after credential for career advancement in these areas.

Benefits of CRISC Certification

Securing the Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) certification brings a wealth of benefits, positioning you as a recognized expert in risk management. Here's why obtaining the CRISC can be a pivotal move for your career:

  • Specialized Knowledge: CRISC certification equips you with the latest skills and knowledge in IT risk management and information systems control, setting you apart in the field.
  • Marketability: With the growing focus on IT risk, professionals holding a CRISC certification are in high demand, enhancing your job prospects and security.
  • Higher Earnings: CRISC-certified professionals often command higher salaries due to their specialized skills and the certification's prestige.
  • Global Recognition: Like CISSP, CRISC is recognized globally, offering career opportunities worldwide and acknowledging your expertise in risk management across borders.
  • Networking Opportunities: Gain access to a global community of peers, experts, and organizations, expanding your professional network and opportunities for collaboration.

CISSP vs. CRISC: Pros and Cons





Technical aspects of information security.

Management of IT risk and information systems control.


  • Recognized globally across industries.
  • Opens doors to technical and high-level security roles.
  • Comprehensive coverage of information security topics.
  • Highly valued for roles focusing on risk management.
  • Suitable for IT professionals aiming for leadership positions in risk management.
  • Focuses on governance, risk assessment, and response strategies.


  • Requires broad knowledge, making it challenging to prepare for. 
  • Demands significant work experience.
  • More specialized focus, which may not appeal to those interested in a broad range of cybersecurity topics.
  • Requires specific experience in risk management and information systems control.

CISSP vs. CRISC: Understanding Their Differences

While both the CISSP and CRISC are aimed at cybersecurity professionals, they serve distinct purposes and lead to different career paths. Let's examine how these two certifications stack up against each other.

Work Experience Requirements

Both certifications mandate candidates to have relevant work experience. This prerequisite underscores the importance of practical, hands-on experience in the field, ensuring that certified individuals are not only knowledgeable but also adept at applying their skills in real-world scenarios. Let's explore the specific work experience requirements for each certification.

CISSP  Work Experience Requirements

To be eligible for CISSP certification, candidates need five years of full-time, paid work experience in two or more of the eight domains of the CISSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK). Part-time work and internships can contribute towards this requirement, although at a proportional rate.

Importantly, one year of the required experience can be waived for candidates holding a four-year college degree or an approved credential.

If you don't have the required experience, you can still take the CISSP exam; however, you won't receive the CISSP certification until you meet the experience requirements. Instead, you will be considered an Associate of ISC2, demonstrating your knowledge and commitment to the field as you gain the necessary experience.

CRISC Work Experience Requirements

CRISC candidates must show three years of experience in at least two of the four CRISC domains, with one year focusing on risk and control monitoring and reporting or risk response and mitigation. Unlike CISSP, there is no provision to waive any part of the CRISC work experience requirement through education or other certifications.

Similar to CISSP, if candidates do not yet have the required experience, they are allowed to take the CRISC exam but will not earn their CRISC designation until the work experience requirements are met.

Pro Tip: If you're leaning more toward CRISC, there's some good news. CRISC is one of the approved credentials by ISC2, and holding this certificate can offset one of the required years of work experience for the CISSP certification. This cross-recognition can particularly benefit professionals aiming to add these prestigious certifications to their portfolios.

Difficulty Level and Exam Details

Understanding the qualifications for CISSP and CRISC certifications is just the beginning. To fully determine which certification aligns with your career goals, it's crucial to delve into the specifics of the exams themselves. Both exams present unique challenges and are designed to test your knowledge and the depth of understanding in their respective areas.

CISSP Difficulty Level and Exam Details

The CISSP exam is often described as "a mile wide and an inch deep," highlighting its broad coverage across numerous domains of information security while not requiring depth of expertise in any single domain. This makes the CISSP exam particularly challenging, as candidates must demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of a wide array of topics.

The exam covers the eight domains of the CISSP CBK, which include:

  1. Security and Risk Management (15%)*
  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 (11%)**

*changing to 16% on April 15
**changing to 10% on April 15

The CISSP exam is available in multiple languages and in two formats: CAT (Computerized Adaptive Testing) for English speakers, which adjusts the difficulty of questions as you answer them, and the linear, fixed-form exam for all other languages.

The CAT exam consists of 125 to 175 questions and a three to four-hour time limit, depending on when you take it, while the linear exam contains 225 to 250 questions to be completed within six hours. The broad scope and adaptive nature of the CISSP exam require a well-rounded knowledge base and strategic test-taking skills.

Important reminder: The CISSP exam will be updated on April 15, 2024. Certain changes will occur, including changes in domain weight, exam format, and duration. Please refer to this guide for more information.

CRISC Difficulty Level and Exam Details

The CRISC exam focuses on four main areas:

  1. Governance (26%)
  2. IT Risk Assessment (20%)
  3. Risk Response and Reporting (32%)
  4. Information Technology and Security (22%)

This specialized focus means that the CRISC exam delves deeper into risk management and control measures compared to the broad overview provided by CISSP. The CRISC exam is known for its rigorous evaluation of a candidate's ability to manage IT risk and implement effective controls.

The CRISC exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions, covering both theoretical concepts and practical knowledge in risk management. Candidates have four hours to complete the exam, which is available in English, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese. Preparing for the CRISC exam requires a focused study on risk management practices and principles, demanding both conceptual understanding and practical application skills.

Salary Prospects and Job Roles

It's no surprise that earning either the CISSP or CRISC certification can significantly elevate your career. Beyond the prestige and recognition these certifications bring, they also substantially impact your salary and job prospects.

Let's examine how these certifications can enhance your earning potential and open doors to new and exciting roles in cybersecurity and risk management.

CISSP Salary Prospects and Job Roles

The CISSP certification is highly regarded in the field of information security and often leads to a considerable increase in salary. The average salary for CISSP holders is US $120,552, which varies by location, experience, and role but is consistently higher than that of non-certified professionals.

Earning the CISSP can qualify you for a variety of high-level positions, including but not limited to:

  • Security Manager
  • Information Security Officer
  • Security Analyst
  • Security Architect
  • Security Auditor
  • IT Director/Manager
  • Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

These roles not only offer competitive salaries but also the opportunity to play a critical part in shaping an organization's cybersecurity strategy and defenses.

CRISC Salary Prospects and Job Roles

Similarly, the Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) certification can lead to enhanced salary prospects and specialized job opportunities focused on risk management. The average salary for CRISC holders is US $77,000 to $145,000, which is also notably higher than that of non-certified IT professionals, reflecting the demand for skilled risk management professionals.

With a CRISC certification, you can expect to be considered for roles such as:

  • Risk Manager
  • Risk Analyst
  • IS Control Officer
  • IT Risk and Assurance Manager
  • Compliance Professional
  • Business Analyst
  • Project Manager

These positions are integral to identifying, managing, and mitigating risks within an organization, ensuring the security and compliance of information systems.

Cost and Certification Renewal

The final deciding factor that might help you choose which certification to pursue is the cost of the exam and the process required for certification renewal. Both the CISSP and CRISC certifications come with their own set of fees and renewal requirements, which are important to consider as part of your long-term career planning.

Here's the breakdown:

CISSP Cost and Certification Renewal

The cost of the CISSP exam is around US $799 and can vary depending on the region. Beyond the exam fee, candidates should also consider the cost of preparation materials, courses, and potentially retaking the exam.

Once certified, CISSP holders must renew their certification every three years. The renewal process involves earning Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits and paying an Annual Maintenance Fee (AMF). CISSP professionals need to accumulate 120 CPE credits over the three-year cycle to maintain their certification, with a minimum of 40 CPEs earned each year. This requirement ensures that CISSP professionals stay current with the rapidly evolving field of information security.

CRISC Cost and Certification Renewal

The exam cost for CRISC is US$575.00 for ISACA members and US$760.00 for non-members. As with CISSP, candidates should consider the cost of preparation and the possibility of needing to retake the exam.

CRISC certification also requires renewal every three years, with a requirement to earn Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits and pay an Annual Maintenance Fee. CRISC-certified individuals need to secure at least 120 CPE credits during their three-year certification cycle. This process ensures that professionals maintain their competency in IT risk management and information systems control, aligning with the latest industry standards and practices.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is CRISC Easier Than CISSP?

The difficulty of CRISC compared to CISSP depends on your background and areas of expertise. CRISC is more focused on risk management and control, which might be more straightforward if you have experience in these areas. CISSP covers a broader range of cybersecurity topics, which could be challenging if you're less familiar with some domains.

Is CRISC Worth Getting?

Yes, CRISC is definitely worth getting if your career goals align with risk management and information systems control. It showcases your expertise and dedication to the field and can significantly enhance your career opportunities and salary prospects.

Which ISACA Certification Is Easiest?

The difficulty level of ISACA certifications such as CISA, CISM, CGEIT, and CRISC depends on your experience and knowledge in the respective areas. Among these, CISA might be seen as more straightforward for professionals already working in IT auditing, as it aligns closely with their daily tasks.

CISSP vs. CRISC: Choosing the Right Path

Deciding on a certification in the cybersecurity industry often isn't a matter of choosing one over the other, but rather deciding when to pursue each. The journey of cybersecurity professionals typically involves accumulating multiple certifications over time, reflecting their expanding expertise and the evolving landscape of cybersecurity challenges.

If you're at the beginning stages of your career, opting for CRISC might serve you well, considering its lower barrier of entry in terms of work experience. On the other hand, if your sights are set on leadership positions within the information security realm, the CISSP is an invaluable credential that signifies a comprehensive understanding and capability in cybersecurity.

For those ready to advance their careers and who see CISSP as the next milestone, Destination Certification is here to guide you. Our CISSP MasterClass is designed to cater to your unique learning needs, adjusting to your existing knowledge and schedule. Whether you're starting with a solid foundation or building from the ground up, our training program is crafted to ensure you not only pass the exam but also gain a deeper understanding of cybersecurity principles and practices.

Ready to elevate your cybersecurity career with CISSP certification? Let Destination Certification be your ally on this journey. Explore our CISSP MasterClass today and take the first step towards achieving your cybersecurity career goals.

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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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