CEH vs CISSP: The Ultimate CyberSec Showdown

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Ever wondered how to crack the code to a successful career in cybersecurity? The answer lies in getting certified in this increasingly competitive space. Two prominent certifications that often spark deliberation among aspiring cybersecurity professionals are the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). Both certifications carry significant weight in the industry, each catering to distinct aspects of cybersecurity. Now, the question is, which certification will give you the boost you need to succeed in this digital battleground?

If you find yourself at the crossroads of choosing between CEH and CISSP, you’re not alone. In this article, we’ll be your guide, shedding light on the distinctions, advantages, and considerations that will help you carve a path aligned with your aspirations. Ready to dive into the world of ethical hacking and security professionalism? Let’s navigate the CEH vs. CISSP terrain together.

What Is The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)?

Certified Ethical Hacker, often abbreviated as CEH, is a certification tailored for individuals keen on honing their skills in ethical hacking. Ethical hacking, or penetration testing, involves simulating cyber-attacks on systems, networks, and applications to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses. The CEH certification equips professionals with the knowledge and techniques essential to secure digital spaces by thinking like a hacker, albeit an ethical one.

The task of Certified Ethical Hackers? Uncover vulnerabilities and weaknesses within the system before malicious hackers exploit them. It’s a digital game of cat and mouse, where the CEH professional plays the role of the savvy mouse, keeping one step ahead.

The CEH certification, offered by the EC-Council, covers a comprehensive range of topics, including but not limited to footprinting and reconnaissance, scanning networks, system hacking, and web application penetration testing. It is a dynamic certification that evolves with the changing cyberspace, ensuring that certified professionals stay adept at preventing potential cyber threats.

Benefits Of Obtaining A CEH Certification

Achieving the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification offers a myriad of benefits, positioning professionals for accelerated career growth in the realm of ethical hacking and cybersecurity.

1. In-Demand Skill Set:

CEH equips individuals with practical skills in ethical hacking, a capability highly sought after in the industry. Ethical hacking involves simulating cyber-attacks to identify vulnerabilities, providing a hands-on approach to cybersecurity.

2. Career Advancement:

Recent research indicates that over 95% of professionals choose CEH for career growth, with over 50% experiencing promotions after earning this certification. This underscores the direct correlation between CEH certification and career advancement within the field.

3. Industry Recognition:

An impressive 92% of hiring managers prefer candidates with CEH for roles that require ethical hacking skills, underscoring the certification’s industry recognition. Employers value CEH as an assurance of a candidate’s practical knowledge and capability in securing digital assets.

4. Organizational Impact:

According to the CEH Hall Of Fame, 93% of professionals stated that CEH skills significantly improved their organization’s security, showcasing the tangible impact of CEH expertise. Certified professionals contribute to a proactive security posture, effectively identifying and mitigating potential threats.

5. Salary Prospects:

CEH-certified professionals often experience positive salary outcomes. Research shows that individuals with CEH certification witness salary increases and enhanced earning potential, further validating the financial benefits of obtaining this credential. The salary benefits are covered in further detail under the ‘CEH vs CISSP: Salary Prospects’ section

Read more: CEH Certifications Worth & Demand


On the other side of the spectrum stands the Certified Information Systems Security Professional, or CISSP. CISSP is a globally recognized certification administered by (ISC)², designed for professionals who play a key role in defining the information security policies and strategies of an organization. Unlike CEH, CISSP takes a holistic approach, covering not only technical aspects but also managerial and strategic dimensions of information security.

CISSP is a certification tailored for professionals who aspire to be leaders in the field of information security, contributing not only to technical solutions but also to the overall security posture of an organization.

Benefits Of CISSP

Earning the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification brings forth a host of benefits, establishing professionals as elite information security experts.

1. Global Recognition:

CISSP is globally recognized as a gold standard for information security professionals, enhancing your credibility on a global scale. Organizations worldwide acknowledge CISSP as a benchmark for excellence in the field. This means that wherever you are, you will always be in demand. 

2. Leadership Opportunities:

CISSP’s comprehensive coverage of security domains positions professionals for leadership roles, allowing them to contribute to strategic and managerial aspects of information security. CISSP-certified individuals are often entrusted with shaping and implementing organizational security policies.

3. Workforce Demand:

With the global cybersecurity workforce estimated at 5.5 million, CISSP addresses the demand for skilled professionals, making certification holders highly sought after in the industry. The certification aligns with the increasing need for cybersecurity experts in a rapidly evolving digital space.

4. Certification Requirement:

A notable 72% of cybersecurity professionals are required to hold a certification by their employers, highlighting the significance of certifications like CISSP in the workforce. CISSP not only serves as a professional achievement but is often a prerequisite for leadership roles and key positions within organizations.

5. Salary Prospects:

CISSP-certified professionals also experience favorable salary outcomes. The comprehensive nature of CISSP and its alignment with strategic roles in information security contribute to competitive compensation packages for certified individuals.

The CISSP certification not only validates your technical expertise but also demonstrates your commitment to excellence in information security, making it a valuable asset for advancing your career.

Read more: CISSP Certification Exam Guide

CEH vs CISSP: Differences In Exam Structures

Table with Varying Number of Columns
Certification Exam Practical
Certification Provider EC-Council ISC2
Exam Format Multiple Choice Questions iLabs Cyber Range Multiple choice and advanced innovative items
No. Of Questions 125 20 125-175
Exam Duration 4 Hours 6 Hours 4 Hours
Passing Score 60% - 85% 70% 700
Testing Center ECC EXAM, VUE Aspen – Labs ISC2 Authorized PPC and PVTC Select Pearson
VUE Testing Centers

CEH vs CISSP: Domain Variations

CEH Key Domains

The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification is distinguished by its focus on practical, hands-on skills in ethical hacking. The domains covered in the CEH certification provide a comprehensive understanding of the tools and techniques used by ethical hackers to identify and rectify vulnerabilities. Related skills and knowledge in the following modules have been defined by the EC-Council for the CEH certification:

ceh exam domains

CISSP Key Domains

CISSP domains cover a wide range of topics, emphasizing not only technical aspects but also managerial and strategic considerations in information security. To obtain the CISSP certification, candidates must pass the CISSP exam and have at least five years of cumulative, paid work experience in two or more of the eight CISSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK) domains:

Key domains of cissp

Eligibility Requirements

When determining which certification to pursue, the eligibility criteria is an essential aspect to take into consideration. Let’s take a better look at the eligibility criteria of these cybersecurity certifications.  

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Eligibility Requirements

Before embarking on the journey to becoming a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), it’s essential to understand the eligibility criteria set by the EC-Council. There are two paths that have been defined. 

Path 1 Path 2
Attend an official EC-Council training course, that is targeted for all skill levels. The training does not require any prior cybersecurity experience. Candidates must have at least two years of work experience in the Information Security domain. They will need to submit evidence and need to have knowledge in the following fields:
  • Information security and ethical hacking
  • Reconnaissance techniques
  • System hacking phases and attack techniques
  • Network and perimeter hacking
  • Web application hacking
  • Wireless network hacking
  • Mobile platform, IoT, and operational technology (OT) hacking
  • Cloud computing
  • Cryptography
  • Practical: While there are no specific eligibility criteria for the CEH (Practical), candidates are highly recommended to first take the CEH course

    Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) Eligibility Requirements

    The path to obtaining the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification involves meeting specific eligibility criteria outlined by (ISC)². The key eligibility requirements for CISSP certification is as follows:

    • CISSP candidates must have at least five years of cumulative, paid work experience in two or more of the eight CISSP domains. 
    • Candidates with a post-secondary degree (bachelor’s or master’s) in computer science, information technology (IT), or equivalent education can fulfill one year of the required experience. Part-time work as well as internships can count towards experience requirements. 
    • Candidates who do not meet the full five years of experience can also obtain a one-year waiver by possessing an approved credential from the (ISC)² approved list.

    Difficulty Level

    The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification exam presents candidates with a challenging yet rewarding experience. The difficulty level of the CEH exam is designed to assess a candidate’s practical knowledge and skills in ethical hacking. Here are key aspects that contribute to the perceived difficulty of the CEH certification:

    1. Practical Application:

    CEH places a strong emphasis on practical application, requiring candidates to demonstrate their skills in real-world scenarios. The hands-on nature of the exam ensures that certified professionals are not only well-versed in theoretical concepts but also capable of applying their knowledge effectively.

    2. Diverse Knowledge Domains:

    CEH covers a wide range of knowledge domains, including footprinting, scanning, system hacking, malware threats, web application penetration testing, and more. The diversity of topics ensures that candidates have a comprehensive understanding of various ethical hacking techniques.

    3. Time Management:

    The CEH exam has a time limit, and effective time management is crucial. Candidates must efficiently navigate through the questions, applying their knowledge and skills to solve challenges within the allocated time frame.

    While the CEH exam is considered challenging, the practical nature of the certification ensures that successful candidates possess not only theoretical knowledge but also the ability to tackle real-world cybersecurity scenarios.

    Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

    The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification is renowned for its depth of knowledge, covering a wide range of security domains. The CISSP exam is known for its comprehensive nature, reflecting the multifaceted responsibilities of information security professionals. Here are key aspects contributing to the perceived difficulty of the CISSP certification:

    1. Comprehensive Coverage:

    CISSP spans eight domains, each delving into specific aspects of information security. The comprehensive coverage requires candidates to have a deep understanding of security and risk management, asset security, security architecture, communication and network security, and more.

    2. Managerial and Strategic Focus:

    Unlike some technical certifications, CISSP incorporates managerial and strategic elements, challenging candidates to think beyond technical solutions. This managerial focus adds complexity to the exam, requiring candidates to demonstrate proficiency in both technical and strategic aspects of information security.

    3. Experience Requirement:

    CISSP has a stringent experience requirement, demanding a minimum of five years of work experience in at least two of the eight domains covered by the certification. This prerequisite ensures that CISSP candidates not only possess theoretical knowledge but also practical experience in information security.

    4. Adaptive Exam Format:

    The CISSP exam utilizes an adaptive format, adjusting the difficulty of questions based on the candidate’s responses. This dynamic nature of the exam requires candidates to have a deep understanding of the subject matter, as questions may become progressively more challenging

    Read more: Critical Analysis of CISSP vs CCSP

    CEH vs CISSP: Cost Analysis

    Another crucial factor to take into consideration is the ultimate cost involved in obtaining each of these certifications. This is especially important if you have financial restrictions in place. Let’s look at the cost for these certifications: 

    Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

    As we discussed earlier, there are two paths to meeting the eligibility criteria set by the EC-Council for the CEH certification. The cost you face will vary depending on which path you choose. The cost breakdown is as follows: 

    Option 1: Attend Official EC-Council Training

    Cost of Official CEH Training Course $850
    Exam Voucher Price
  • $1,119 (Pearson VUE Exam Voucher)
  • $950 (ECC Exam Voucher)
  • Option 2: Exam Attempt Without Training

    If you want to move forward with this option, you will not have to take the official training course. However, under the eligibility requirements, you will need to prove your 2 years of knowledge and experience in the domains mentioned above. 

    Submit an Eligibility Application Form? Yes
    Non-Refundable Fee for Eligibility Application Form $100
    Approval Required From EC-Council Cert Department? Yes
    Exam Voucher Price
  • $1,119 ( Pearson VUE Voucher)
  • $950 (ECC Exam Voucher)
  • Recertification:

    CEH certification is valid for three years. To maintain certification, professionals are required to earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) through various activities, including attending training, conferences, webinars, or participating in self-study. The recertification process ensures that certified professionals stay updated with the latest developments in ethical hacking and cybersecurity

    Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP):

    Earning the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification also involves financial commitments, with exam fees and potential training costs. Here’s an overview of the costs associated with CISSP:

    Exam Fee: The CISSP exam fee varies based on your location but in the US, the cost of the CISSP exam is $749. 

    Training Costs: While not mandatory, many CISSP candidates choose to undergo training to enhance their preparation for the exam. Training costs vary, with options for in-person or online courses, ranging from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars.


    CISSP certification is valid for three years. To maintain certification, professionals are required to earn Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits. CPE activities include attending training, participating in webinars, publishing articles, and other relevant activities. The recertification process ensures that CISSP-certified professionals stay on top of advancements in information security.

    CEH vs CISSP: Market Demand Analysis

    The year 2023 was big on cybercrime, reporting an average increase of 15.1% in cyberattacks and data breaches from the previous year. This surge in cyber threats across various company types underscores the demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals, revealing a notable gap in the available workforce.

    Despite the growing interest in this field, a workforce study conducted by (ISC)² indicates that 60% of cybersecurity professionals believe that the shortage of experts is exposing their companies to risks. In 2023, it was revealed that the cybersecurity workforce deficit grew by 12.6% to $4 million. Since then, this figure has increased significantly. 

    A contributing factor to this shortage may be the prevalent requirement for certifications like the CISSP in most cybersecurity job listings. Obtaining such certifications demands a significant investment of time and effort, making it challenging to bridge the workforce gap. 

    Meanwhile, the technological advancements employed by malicious actors outpace the entry of IT and cybersecurity professionals into the field, hindering the development of expertise necessary to protect against evolving threats. And in all this, the demand for certified cybersec professionals has only gone up. Let’s take a look at the industry demand for two of the most popular certifications in this domain.

    The Demand For CEH Professionals

    The demand for Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certified professionals is steadily increasing as organizations recognize the critical role of ethical hacking and penetration testing in cybersecurity. CEH certification is particularly valued in roles such as Ethical Hacker, Penetration Tester, and Security Consultant. In the financial and banking sector, where protecting sensitive financial data is paramount, CEH certified professionals are sought after. Government agencies and defense organizations also prioritize CEH certification to bolster their cybersecurity capabilities, contributing to national security.

    The healthcare industry, grappling with the digitization of patient records, looks to CEH-certified individuals to safeguard against cyber threats and ensure compliance with data protection regulations. Technology and IT services companies find value in CEH certification for securing software, networks, and applications. As cyber threats continue to evolve, the demand for CEH-certified professionals grows. According to recent data, there has been a notable increase in job listings requiring CEH certification, with over a 20% rise in the past year alone.

    The Demand for CISSP Professionals

    Across various industries, there is a substantial demand for CISSP professionals owing to their capability to safeguard against data breaches, possess advanced knowledge, and enhance security measures.

    As per CyberSeek, CISSP certifications are the most sought-after among current cybersecurity job openings that require certification. As of January 2024, over 140,000 cybersecurity job listings specifically seek candidates with CISSP certification.

    CEH vs CISSP: Job Opportunities

    We have covered the rising demand for both these certifications. Let’s look at the job prospects and at different multinationals that hire CISSP and CEH-certified professionals. 

    CEH Job Prospects

    CISSP Job Prospects

    cissp jobs in usa

    Multinationals That Hire CEH-Certified Professionals

    Intel Target Leidos
    Emongrass Liveperson Lockheed Martin
    Microsoft National Geographic Society Nokia
    NorthRop Grumman Ntt Data Okko
    Oracle Sony Qatar Airways
    Tata Consultancy Service SIEMENS Telefonica

    Read more: OSCP vs CEH 

    Multinationals That Hire CISSP-Certified Professionals

    cissp professional

    CEH vs CISSP: Salary Prospects 2024

    A common benefit that both these certifications shared was improved earning potential. Let’s take a more detailed look at the salary prospects of both these certifications. 

    Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Salary

    Variations In salaries Of CEH Certified Professionals Based On Location

    The salary packages and earning potential can vary based on your geographical location. The following data has been taken from ZipRecruiter

    Location Annual Average Salary
    San Buenaventura, CA $119,477
    Santa Clara, CA $108,298
    Federal Way, WA $107,112
    Washington, DC $106,716
    San Francisco, CA $104,186
    Los Angeles, CA $102,352
    Marysville, WA $102,080

    Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) Salary

    cissp salary and companies

    Variations In salaries Of CEH Certified Professionals Based On Location

    As we discussed earlier, there can be variations in salaries depending on where you might be situated. Here is a look at the salary prospect variations in different locations in the US. This data has also been taken from ZipRecruiter:

    Location Annual Average Salary
    Johnstonville, CA $152,941
    Berkeley, CA $150,089
    Daly City, CA $142,044
    Paradise, PA $140,578
    South San Francisco, CA $139,991
    Cool Valley, MO $139,634
    Kensington, NY $138,431

    Conclusion: Which Path To Take

    Choosing between the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certifications depends on your career goals, interests, and the specific path you wish to pursue in the field of cybersecurity. Here are tailored recommendations based on different scenarios:

    Choose the CEH Certification If:

    Focus on Ethical Hacking Skills: If your primary interest lies in developing practical, hands-on skills in ethical hacking, penetration testing, and actively identifying and mitigating security vulnerabilities, the CEH certification is the ideal choice. CEH equips professionals with the technical prowess needed to navigate the dynamic landscape of cybersecurity threats.

    Entry-Level Ethical Hacking Roles: For individuals entering the field of ethical hacking, CEH opens doors to roles such as ethical hacker, penetration tester, security analyst, and other positions that require a strong foundation in practical expertise for addressing cybersecurity threats.

    Industry Recognition and Career Growth: CEH is widely recognized in the industry, with a high demand for professionals possessing ethical hacking skills. Choosing CEH can serve as a catalyst for career advancement, leading to roles with increased responsibilities and competitive compensation, especially in areas where hands-on technical expertise is highly valued.

    Choose the CISSP Certification If:

    Information Security Leadership Aspirations: If your career aspirations involve leading information security initiatives at a strategic level, the CISSP certification is the natural choice. CISSP is designed for professionals who want to contribute to the development and implementation of comprehensive information security programs and assume leadership roles like Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), security director, or security manager.

    Global Leadership Opportunities: CISSP’s global recognition positions professionals for leadership roles across industries. If you aim to lead and shape an organization’s overall security posture on a global scale, CISSP aligns with these objectives. The certification’s comprehensive coverage ensures that you can address not only technical aspects but also strategic and managerial dimensions of information security.

    Interest in Risk Management and Compliance: CISSP places a strong emphasis on risk management, compliance, and the development of security policies. If you are interested in shaping an organization’s overall security posture, ensuring compliance with regulations, and managing risks effectively, CISSP provides the knowledge and skills required for these strategic objectives.

    Ultimately, your choice between CEH and CISSP depends on your unique career goals and the specific skills and responsibilities you aim to acquire. Some professionals may choose to pursue both certifications to have a well-rounded skill set that combines practical hacking skills with strategic leadership capabilities

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Yes, pursuing both certifications is a viable option, and many professionals choose this path. Combining CEH and CISSP provides a well-rounded skill set that encompasses practical ethical hacking expertise and strategic leadership capabilities. This dual certification approach can enhance your versatility and appeal to a broader range of cybersecurity roles.

    Both CEH and CISSP certifications are valid for three years. The recertification process for CEH involves accumulating Continuing Education Credits (CECs) through activities such as training, conferences, and webinars. CISSP professionals must earn Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits during the certification cycle through various approved activities.

    Yes, both CEH and CISSP certifications are recognized globally. CEH is acknowledged as a valuable credential for ethical hacking skills, while CISSP is considered a gold standard for information security professionals. Employers worldwide recognize and value individuals holding these certifications.

    The demand for CEH and CISSP professionals varies based on specific job roles and industry requirements. CEH is often sought after for roles focused on ethical hacking and penetration testing, while CISSP is in high demand for leadership positions in information security management. Researching job market trends and industry needs can help you align your certification choice with market demands.

    Yes, individuals with limited IT experience can pursue both CEH and CISSP certifications. CEH, in particular, is accessible for entry-level professionals, and CISSP offers a one-year experience waiver for candidates with relevant four-year college degrees. However, acquiring practical experience, even through entry-level positions, enhances the understanding and application of certification concepts.



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