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How to Get CISA Certified and why it's Worth It

[fa icon="calendar"] Aug 13, 2014 9:00:46 AM / by Jackie Somma

A CISA, or Certified Information Systems Auditor, certification is recognized by almost all employers across a large variety of industries. The CISA certification is best described as an all-inclusive information systems audit qualification. The certification requires an applicant to be knowledgeable about information technology and general aspects of business. While there are other IT audit certifications available, they don't have the same universal acceptance as CISA. Those who are CISA certified have illustrated their IT skills and their capability to tackle auditing tasks.

How To Earn a CISA Qualification

In order to become CISA certified, an applicant must pass a multiple choice examination that consists of 200 questions. The exam must be completed in a maximum of 4 hours. Applicants must also have five years of relevant industry experience. Those who hold degrees in related fields or experience in similar industries might be able to chop off a year or two of the required five years of mandatory experience.

The exam is quite extensive and requires test takers to have a comprehensive understanding of both enterprise IT and business. Those who have such knowledge should not have a problem passing the exam. A book and CD with practice questions are available to help prepare for the exam. While the book may not exactly grab your attention, it is helpful to pinpoint a test taker's weak points. The CD is extremely helpful as it provides questions that are quite similar to those on the actual exam. The exam is comprised of six domains: Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery, IS Audit Process, IT Governance, Protection of Information Assets, Systems and Infrastructure Lifecycle management and IT Service Delivery and Support. It costs $500 to take the exam.

How to Stay Certified after Passing the CISA Exam

In order to maintain the CISA certification, individuals must follow a set of strict guidelines. After passing the exam, individuals must submit an application for CISA certification, adhere to a code of professional ethics, comply with information systems auditing standards and follow the continuing professional education program's requirements for continuing professional development (CPD).

In order to remain CISA certified, individuals must perform 20 hours of CPD per year and across a three year span, 120 hours must be completed. There are week-long CPD courses available and there are also seminars administered by ISACA. Those interested in holding onto their CISA certifications can also earn CPD by partaking in branch operations or by completing quizzes in the ISACA journal.

Who Should Become CISA Certified

CISA is ideal for anyone in the IT field, especially those who would like to perform IT audits and manage security and control operations. It gives them an edge on those who don't have the certification when employers are comparing prospects for an opening. There's an enormous influx of college graduates and even experienced professionals entering the IT field, especially the IT audit field. Technology is growing at a rapid rate and IT auditing allows one to differentiate himself from the pack. Simply put, obtaining the CISA makes one more marketable and improves his job security. While it is commonplace for a college to churn out hundreds of IT graduates per year, most of them aren't specialized within the field. Obtaining the CISA adds another element to an individual's resume that could tip the scale in his or her favor to obtain a job, be promoted or receive a raise.

Other Reasons to Obtain the CISA Certification

Others view IT auditing as a means of intellectual stimulation and a challenge to their abilities. Since IT auditing is a dynamic and ever-evolving field, staying abreast of updates and changes in technology makes the job that much more interesting. IT auditors need to constantly change and improve their knowledge base and skills in order to understand the latest improvements in technology. Obtaining the CISA certification really separates common IT personnel and business managers from the rest of their peers.

While high level management might view low level IT and management personnel as unimportant due to a lack of specialized knowledge and unique skills, employees with a CISA certification will be seen in a different light. They'll be able to assess risks and recommend problem solving strategies that will protect sensitive information. In short, someone with a CISA certification represents part of the solution to many of the challenges that face contemporary businesses. That alone, makes the CISA certification worth pursuing.

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Jackie Somma

Written by Jackie Somma

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