Guide to Getting CISSP Certification

There’s more to success in cyber security than just specialized IT skills and experience. Information security professionals frequently have access to data that’s private or sensitive, making integrity an essential consideration when government agencies and private sector firms pursue new hires. Of course, advanced capabilities and a record of practical success can help set you apart as a candidate, but employers, first and foremost, need to be sure they aren’t leaving themselves vulnerable to an attack from the inside. Additionally, as the cyber security industry is constantly evolving, those armed with the most relevant techniques may find themselves with an advantage in job interviews.

Earning professional certification in the field can help you build a reputation as an ethical, competent professional committed to developing your skills. The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium ((ISC)²) one of the foremost certifying organizations in cyber security, offers a number of credentials. One of the most prominent is the Certified Information Systems Security Professional ®(CISSP®), a well-recognized designation pursued by experienced practitioners of digital security.

Getting CISSP certification is a rigorous process that, upon completion, speaks volumes about those who can list the credential on their resume. It not only certifies that you have advanced abilities in creating secure environments for businesses and agencies, but also that you adhere to high standards of ethics. For experienced cyber security professionals looking to earn greater recognition of their capabilities and pursue new opportunities in their career, earning CISSP status can be a powerful step.

How to Earn CISSP Certification

Meet Qualifications

In order to pursue CISSP certification, candidates must have 5 years of paid, full-time work experience in at least 2 of the 10 required disciplines (or “domains”). If you have an approved college degree, you can have 1 of these years of experienced waived by filling out the proper paperwork.

The 10 subject matter domains are:

-Access Control
-Telecommunications and Network Security
-Information Security Governance and Risk Management
-Software Development Security
-Cryptography
-Security Architecture and Design
-Operations Security
-Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning
-Legal, Regulations, Investigations, and Compliance
-Physical (Environmental) Security

After achieving this level of practical and professional experience, applicants may qualify for the exam.

Prepare for the Exam

The exam is a comprehensive, skill-based test designed to thoroughly assess a cyber security professional’s knowledge and competency. The (ISC)² provides a complete exam outline that can be downloaded here, along with several other resources, including a textbook and webcasts examining each subject area domain. Free CISSP practice exams are available online to assess your skill-set prior to the exam.

Subscribe to the (ISC)² Code of Ethics

After passing the examination with a score of 700 points or greater, you’ll be asked to commit to upholding the (ISC)² Code of Ethics. Each CISSP is held to the highest standards of behavior, being required to use their technical skills to safeguard public security and provide capable service or risk the loss of their certification. This is what makes CISSP status such a well-noted mark of a trustworthy security professional.

Receive Endorsement

Within 9 months of taking the exam, CISSP candidates are required to seek out endorsement from an existing, active (ISC)² certified individual to confirm that the applicant is honest, competent, and has completed the necessary practical experience. The (ISC)² can also act as an endorser for those who may not know a certified cyber security professional.

Maintaining Certification through CPE

CISSP’s are required to pursue specialized, perpetual requirements every 3 years to recertify and maintain their base of knowledge. Continuing professional education (CPE) credits are a major part of these requirements, with 120 credits that must be completed as part of the 3 year cycle. 20 of these credits must be completed each year, meaning that CISSPs need to spread out their ongoing education efforts. As a result, getting and keeping CISSP certification is a life-long commitment (or for as long as the holder wishes to maintain certification), demonstrating an individual’s genuine dedication to the field of cyber security.

Looking to advance in or enter cyber security? Explore the online Master in Cyber Security offered by Valparaiso University. The program includes a practical, hands-on curriculum that focuses on the development of technical skills. It also includes a CISSP prep elective to help you succeed on the examination and in the field.

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