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Last Updated On: February 23, 2024

Earning the CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) certification is a significant achievement for any cybersecurity professional. It's a globally recognized credential that demonstrates your expertise and commitment to information security.

In this guide, we'll walk you through each essential phase, providing insights and tips to help you prepare, qualify, and ultimately earn the CISSP certification, marking your standing in the industry.

What is the CISSP?

The CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) certification is a premier credential for IT and cybersecurity professionals, highlighting an individual's proficiency in information security. Administered by ISC2, it covers a comprehensive framework of practices in the industry, structured around eight domains:

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

Collectively, these domains ensure a certified professional has a balanced understanding of critical security concepts, practices, and trends. The CISSP certification is designed for experienced security practitioners, managers, and executives interested in proving their knowledge across a wide array of security practices and principles.

Step-By-Step Guide on How to Earn the CISSP Certification

Earning the CISSP certification involves more than just passing an exam; it's a comprehensive journey that requires dedication and a strategic approach. Here, we'll outline the crucial steps you need to take, from meeting initial requirements to securing your certification, ensuring you're fully prepared for this esteemed credential.

Step 1: Obtain the Necessary Experience

To begin your journey towards earning the CISSP certification, you'll need to first ensure you meet the required work experience criteria set by ISC2.

You are expected to have at least five years of direct, full-time professional work experience in two or more of the eight domains of the CISSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK). Part-time work or internships are also counted. However, they are calculated differently from full-time roles. Specifically, 1040 hours of part-time or internship work equals one year of full-time experience, allowing for a flexible path toward meeting the certification prerequisites.

Furthermore, you can satisfy one year of the required experience through academic achievements or other credentials. A relevant four-year college degree or an approved credential from the ISC2-approved list can waive one year off the five-year experience requirement.

If you're short on this experience, don't worry. You can still earn the CISSP by becoming an Associate of ISC2. To become one, you must pass the CISSP exam, even without five years of experience. It grants you a six-year period to accumulate the necessary expertise. This approach makes the CISSP certification accessible even early in your career, allowing you to grow and advance in the information security field.

Step 2: Study for the Exam

Once you've met the experience requirements, the next essential step in your CISSP certification journey is dedicated exam preparation. A wealth of resources is available, including specialized books, online forums, study guides, and practice exams. Whether you opt for self-study or seek structured guidance, there's a resource tailored to your learning style.

A crucial part of your preparation is selecting the right training format that suits your learning style and schedule. For those who prefer structured learning or direct interaction, in-person classes may be ideal. However, if you need a more adaptable approach to fit your busy lifestyle, a CISSP online course is a better fit, offering the convenience of accessing comprehensive materials from anywhere at any time.

The key is to choose a training program that not only aligns with your learning preferences but is also reputable and closely follows the CISSP CBK. Whether through classroom engagement or the flexibility of online education, the right training will equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed on the exam.

Step 3: Pass the Exam

Easier said than done, especially since the CISSP examination is often cited as one of the most challenging certifications to obtain in cybersecurity. However, don't let its reputation daunt you. With the right preparation, a solid study plan, and a deep understanding of the CISSP CBK, passing the test is within your reach.

To increase your chances of success, focus on a comprehensive study, use practice exams to familiarize yourself with the format—especially if you're taking the CAT exam—and types of questions you'll encounter, and allocate time to review areas where you feel less confident. Remember, persistence and thorough preparation are your best allies in conquering the CISSP exam.

Step 4: Get Endorsed

After successfully passing the CISSP exam, you've cleared a significant hurdle, but your journey isn't over yet. The next step is to complete the endorsement process within nine months from the exam date. This crucial phase involves having your professional experience and qualifications endorsed by an existing CISSP holder.

The endorsement process is designed to validate your claims of professional experience and ensure you adhere to the ISC2 Code of Ethics. To begin, you'll need to submit a formal endorsement application that includes documentation of your work experience in the information security field directly related to the CISSP CBK domains.

Once you've submitted your endorsement application, ISC2 typically takes up to 6 weeks to review your submission and provide an update. In some cases, the review process may extend beyond the expected period. If you haven't received any communication from ISC2 after eight weeks, it's advisable to contact them for an update.

Step 5: Earn Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Credits

Congratulations, you've earned your CISSP certification! With this achievement, you join the ranks of ISC2, a global community committed to the field of information security. However, to maintain your CISSP status and ISC2 membership, there's an important ongoing requirement: recertification every three years.

To recertify, you have to satisfy two things: earning Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits and paying the Annual Maintenance Fee (AMF). You can accumulate CPE through various ways, including but not limited to activities like webinars, conferences, training, or self-study.

You must earn at least 40 CPE credits annually, reaching 120 credits over three years. On the other hand, the AMF is $125 annually.

Remember, failing to meet these requirements means you would have to undergo the rigorous process of retaking the CISSP exam to regain your certification. And let's be honest: once you've achieved this milestone, you'll want to do everything you can to maintain it without having to retake that challenging exam.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take to Get a CISSP Certification?

The time it takes to get a CISSP certification can vary widely depending on your background, study habits, and the amount of time you can dedicate to preparation. Generally, candidates spend anywhere from 3 to 6 months studying for the exam.

However, the complete process from starting your study to receiving your certification, assuming you pass the exam on your first attempt and complete the endorsement process promptly, can take anywhere from 6 to 9 months. This includes the time needed for ISC2 to endorse your application and officially award your certification.

How Much Does CISSP Cost?

The CISSP exam costs US $749. If you need to reschedule, there's a fee of US $50, and canceling the exam costs US $100.

Is the CISSP Exam Hard?

Yes, the CISSP exam is considered hard due to its comprehensive coverage of information security topics and the depth of knowledge required. It tests a wide range of skills across eight domains, requiring not only memorization but the ability to apply concepts in various scenarios.
However, with thorough preparation, understanding of the material, enrolling in the right CISSP course, and practice, it is achievable.

Ready to Earn Your CISSP Certification?

If you've made the decision to start this challenging yet rewarding journey, Destination Certification is here to guide you every step of the way. Our CISSP MasterClass is crafted with your specific needs in mind. This isn't a one-size-fits-all course; it's a dynamic learning experience tailored to your existing knowledge, making your exam preparation as effective and engaging as possible.

The best part? The course flexibly adjusts to your schedule. Whether you're aiming to fast-track your certification process or prefer to spread your study over a few months, our MasterClass is the ideal partner in your preparation.

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