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Last Updated On: February 12, 2024

The CISSP is a highly respected certification that brings a wealth of benefits to cybersecurity professionals. But how does one achieve this esteemed status?

Let's explore the path to becoming a CISSP, tackle the key questions you might have about the certification, and guide you toward earning one of the most sought-after credentials in the cybersecurity world.

What is a CISSP Expert?

A CISSP expert is recognized as a leading professional in the cybersecurity field, showcasing not just extensive knowledge and mastery of information security practices and principles but also the skills to address complex security challenges. These experts navigate areas from risk management to security architecture, making pivotal decisions to protect an organization's information assets.

Of course, becoming a CISSP expert involves passing the CISSP exam—a crucial step. However, the journey to expertise extends beyond the exam itself, embodying a deep commitment to cybersecurity, ongoing education, and adherence to a rigorous code of ethics.

This path, which we will explore in later sections, elevates professionals to leadership roles, where they guide their organizations through the continuously shifting landscape of cyber threats and vulnerabilities, thus setting a benchmark for security excellence.

Who Should Become a CISSP?

The CISSP is tailor-made for IT and cybersecurity professionals who are serious about their career trajectory. We're talking about security managers, IT directors, auditors, consultants, architects, and anyone who plays a pivotal role in securing their organization's digital assets.

If you find yourself constantly drawn to the latest in cybersecurity trends, if safeguarding digital information feels more like a calling than just a job, or if you're already in a role where you're making decisions that affect your organization's security posture, then the CISSP is right up your alley. It’s for those who not only want to validate their extensive knowledge and skills but also aim to position themselves as leaders in the field.

If you're nodding along, thinking, "That's me," then pursuing CISSP certification could be the pivotal move for your career. Whether you're aiming to bolster your resume, step up into a more senior role, or simply want to join the ranks of the world's leading cybersecurity professionals, becoming a CISSP is a powerful step forward.

How to Become a CISSP

Before you start your journey of getting a CISSP, it's essential to grasp what becoming one truly involves. Be warned: becoming a CISSP is no easy feat. It demands not just a broad understanding of cybersecurity but also a deep commitment to the field's ever-evolving dynamics.

The process is multi-layered, with each step critical to demonstrate your expertise and dedication. Despite the hurdles, the benefits of being a CISSP are immense. Ready for an overview of the process? Let's explore what it takes to earn your CISSP.

1. Prerequisites and Eligibility

Before you can take the CISSP exam, there are a few boxes you need to tick in terms of prerequisites and eligibility. At its core, the CISSP requires candidates to have at least five years of full-time, paid work experience in two or more of the eight domains of the CISSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK). If you’re a bit short on experience, don’t worry—a four-year college degree or an approved credential can substitute for one of those years.

So, if you’ve been working in cybersecurity and have the experience or the educational background to show for it, you’re on the right track to becoming a CISSP.

2. Study for the Exam

Studying for the CISSP exam is arguably the most critical step in your journey to certification. It's the make-or-break phase that will largely determine your success.

When it comes to preparation, one size does not fit all. You have to choose between an in-person class or an online CISSP training based on what suits your learning style best. For those who thrive in a classroom setting, an in-person class could be beneficial. However, if you prefer flexibility and convenience, an online course like our CISSP MasterClass, designed to fit into your life seamlessly, might be right up your alley.

In addition to selecting the right course, picking out the best resources to supplement your study is key. Whether it's choosing the most comprehensive CISSP book or utilizing a practice questions app, every tool can play a pivotal role in your preparation.

A pro tip: consider integrating a flashcard app into your study routine to help cement your knowledge.

Equally important is establishing a study schedule that fits your lifestyle and committing to it. Consistency is your ally here, enabling you to cover all necessary material systematically and without rush.

Finding what works best for you and sticking to a well-structured plan can significantly enhance your chances of passing the CISSP exam and moving one step closer to becoming a certified expert.

Steps in the CISSP Endorsement Process

Once you've got your prerequisites in check, it's now time to start your CISSP endorsement process. Here's what your journey will look like:

  1. Submitting the Endorsement Application: After those victorious moments of passing the CISSP exam, your first pit stop is the endorsement application. Here, you'll detail your professional experience, and that's where your ISC2-certified buddy steps in to vouch for you. They basically need to sign their portion of the endorsement form.
  2. Verification of Work Experience: This is the point where ISC2 does a background scan. They'll take a magnifying glass to your claimed work experience, ensuring every detail aligns with their criteria. Honesty is the best policy here—after all, a robust security background is built on trust.
  3. Review by ISC2: Finally, once you've made your claims and they've verified them, the ISC2 team will have a final look. They'll review the entire endorsement application and decide if you're all set to receive the CISSP certification.
  4. Receiving Your Certification: Once the ISC2 team gives your endorsement the thumbs up, they won't keep you on tenterhooks. An email will swing by, confirming that you're now a certified CISSP.
  5. Pay Annual Maintenance Fee (AMF): After receiving the email, you'll need to pay the AMF of your new certificate. Then, keep an eye out for the official certification kit in the mail. You're now a CISSP holder.

Reminder: A handful of people who clear the ISC2 exam and send over their certification applications might get a special invite for an audit. This selection is random. If you're one of the chosen few, you'll get the heads up via email.

3. Pass the CISSP Test

Once you've immersed yourself in the study and feel confident in your grasp of the material, it's time to face the next critical milestone: passing the CISSP test. This exam is not just a test of your knowledge but also your endurance and time management skills.

Here are some tips to help you navigate the exam successfully:

  • Understand the Format: Familiarize yourself with the exam's updated format. The CISSP English exam is a computer-adaptive test that can range from 100 to 150 questions, with a time limit of three hours. For those getting it in Chinese, German, Japanese, Korean, or Spanish, you’ll have 6 hours to answer 225 questions.
  • Practice Time Management: With a considerable number of questions to tackle in a limited time, practicing how to manage your time efficiently is crucial. Aim to spend no more than a minute or two on each question.
  • Read Questions Carefully: Make sure to read each question and all the possible answers thoroughly before selecting your choice. Sometimes, the key to the correct answer lies in understanding what the question is truly asking.
  • Use the Process of Elimination: If you're unsure about an answer, use the process of elimination to narrow down your choices. Often, you can eliminate one or two options right off the bat.
  • Stay Calm and Focused: It's natural to feel nervous, but staying calm and focused will help you think more clearly and make better decisions.
  • Review Your Answers: If time allows, go back and review your answers, especially for questions you were uncertain about. Your first instinct is often correct, but a quick review can catch any mistakes made by overthinking.

With the proper preparation and mindset, you can navigate this challenge and emerge as a CISSP-certified professional, ready to take on the cybersecurity world.

4. Obtain an Endorsement

Hold up, if you think you're done after passing the CISSP exam, well, think again. There's one more crucial step before you can officially call yourself a CISSP-certified professional: obtaining an endorsement.

The CISSP endorsement process is essentially ISC2's way of ensuring that your claims of professional experience are valid and that you adhere to their code of ethics. Here's a quick rundown of what it involves:

  1. Find an Endorser: You'll need to have your application endorsed by an active ISC2-certified professional. This person vouches for both your professional experience and your character.
  2. Submit Your Application: Once you've passed the exam, you have nine months to submit your endorsement application. This includes detailing your work experience and getting that all-important endorsement.
  3. Wait for Confirmation: After submitting your application, ISC2 will review it, which can take up to six weeks. Once approved, you'll officially be a CISSP.

Remember, passing the exam is a huge milestone, but it's the successful endorsement that crosses you over the finish line. So, make sure you have a plan for obtaining your endorsement as soon as you've passed the CISSP exam.

5. Be Prepared for an Audit

While not a direct step in becoming a CISSP expert, being prepared for an audit is crucial once you've achieved certification status. The audit, conducted by ISC², serves to verify the accuracy of the information you provided during the endorsement process.

It involves a random selection of applications, where selected individuals are asked to furnish documentation and evidence that substantiate the professional experience and qualifications claimed.

This process is essential for maintaining the integrity and value of the CISSP certification. Keeping detailed records and staying organized with your professional documentation can make this verification step smoother and less daunting.

6. Maintain and Renew Certification

Achieving your CISSP certification is a significant milestone, but the journey doesn’t end there. To maintain and renew your certification, you’ll need to engage in continuous professional education (CPE) and pay an Annual Maintenance Fee (AMF) of US$125.

CPE credits are a way to ensure that CISSP professionals stay current with the latest developments in cybersecurity. You’re required to earn a specific number of credits each year to keep your knowledge up to date and your certification active.

On top of that, the AMF is necessary to support the ongoing costs of maintaining the CISSP credential and accessing the resources provided by ISC².

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take to Get a CISSP?

The time it takes to get your CISSP certification can vary based on several factors, including your background, experience, and the amount of time you dedicate to studying. In general, the process from starting your study to becoming certified can take anywhere from six months to over a year.

At Destination Certification, our online CISSP MasterClass is designed to accommodate your schedule, whether you're aiming to become CISSP-certified in a week or spread your study over a year. It's worth noting that aiming for a one-week turnaround is an intense commitment, requiring rigorous study of up to 16 hours a day.

However, we've seen students successfully pass the test within 3 months by tailoring their study plans to fit their personal and professional lives. Our MasterClass adjusts to your pace, making it possible to achieve your CISSP certification in the time frame that works best for you, from rapid immersion to a more measured approach.

How Much Does CISSP Cost?

The cost of CISSP certification primarily focuses on the exam fee, which is usually $749 but can vary depending on the location. However, that's not the only thing you should consider. Preparation materials, courses like our CISSP MasterClass, and the annual maintenance fee of US $125 to keep the certification active also contribute to the overall cost. It's important to factor in these additional expenses when budgeting for your CISSP journey.

Can I Self-Study CISSP?

Yes, you can definitely self-study for the CISSP certification. Many candidates leverage a variety of resources such as textbooks, online forums, practice exams, and video tutorials to prepare on their own. This method offers the flexibility to study at your own pace and focus on areas where you need the most improvement.

To enhance your self-study, consider enrolling in an online course like Destination Certification's CISSP MasterClass. Not only does it adjust to your schedule, but it also tailors the content to your current level of knowledge, making your preparation as effective as possible.

Ready to Become a CISSP Expert?

Now that you're familiar with the steps to becoming CISSP certified, it's time to take that crucial leap. Let Destination Certification be your guide on this significant journey. Our CISSP online course is designed to streamline your path to certification, ensuring a stress-free experience.

What sets us apart is our commitment to providing a learning experience that's customized to you—not just a one-size-fits-all approach. Forget the hassle of syncing your schedule with in-person classes or retreading familiar ground. Our course dynamically adjusts to your current knowledge level, ensuring you spend time on what you truly need to learn.

The best part? You're in full control. Whether you're aiming for an intense study plan or prefer a more laid-back approach, our course flexibly accommodates your needs. Join our MasterClass today and become a CISSP expert at your own pace.

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