Complete Breakdown Of CISM Certification Exam Cost in 2024

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Today, information security is a paramount concern for organizations of all sizes. As cyberattacks grow in sophistication and frequency, the demand for skilled professionals who can safeguard critical data and infrastructure is at an all-time high. This is where the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification comes into play.

But before embarking on your CISM journey, it’s natural to consider the associated costs. This blog post will serve as your comprehensive guide, unveiling the CISM exam cost and exploring the factors contributing to the overall investment. We’ll delve into each cost component, analyze the value proposition of CISM certification, and offer tips to maximize the benefits of your investment.

What Is CISM?

The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification, offered by the globally recognized Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), validates an individual’s expertise in information security management. It equips professionals with the knowledge and skills to develop, implement, and oversee robust information security programs. Earning your CISM certification demonstrates your commitment to information security excellence and positions you as a leader in this crucial field.

CISM Exam Structure

Exam Format Multiple Choice Questions
No. Of Questions 150 Questions
Exam Duration 4 Hours
Passing Score 450
Languages Offered English, Chinese Simplified. Japanese, and Spanish

CISM Major Exam Domains

ISACA has defined the CISM exam domains in its CISM exam outline along with their respective weightage in the exam. They are as follows: 

Key Domains Weightage (%) In The Exam
Information Security Governance 17%
Information Security Risk Management 20%
Information Security Program 33%
Incident Management 30%

CISM Real Exam Questions

Prerequisites For The CISM Certification

 In order to qualify for the CISM Certification exam, candidates must have a minimum of 5 or more years of experience in information security management. Of these 5 years, a minimum of 3 years must be in 3 out of the 4 CISM job practice areas covered above. 

Experience Waivers

Experience waivers are available for a maximum of 2 years. 

Here are the potential waivers for the CISM work experience:

  • Current CISA in good standing (2-year waiver) 
  • Current CISSP in good standing (2-year waiver)
  • An MBA or master’s degree in Information Security/ related field (2-year waiver)
  • Bachelor’s degree in Information Security (1-year waiver) 

Skill-based certification, such as GIAC, MCSE, CompTIA Security+, CBCP, ESL IT Security Manager (1-year waiver)

More On These Certifications:

CISM Exam Cost Breakdown: Understanding Your Investment

The cost of obtaining your CISM certification can be broken down into several key components. Understanding these elements will help you make an informed decision about pursuing this valuable credential.

Exam Fee:

The primary cost associated with CISM certification is the exam fee.  ISACA offers the exam at a different price point for members and non-members. Here’s a table outlining the CISM exam fee structure:

Membership Status Exam Fee (USD)
ISACA Member $575
Non-Member $760

As you can see, becoming an ISACA member offers a significant $185 discount on the exam fee. This highlights the first financial benefit of joining ISACA, even if you want to obtain the CISM certification.

Here are some additional points to consider regarding the exam fee:

  • The exam fee covers the cost of developing, administering, and scoring the CISM exam.
  • The fee is non-refundable, so ensure you’re fully prepared before scheduling your exam.
  • You can reschedule your exam appointment for a fee, but there are limitations, so carefully review ISACA’s exam policies before booking your test date.

ISACA Membership

While ISACA membership isn’t mandatory for taking the CISM exam, it can be considered a strategic investment that unlocks many different benefits for aspiring CISM professionals.  The initial exam fee discount is just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s a deeper dive into the value proposition associated with ISACA membership:

  • Resources for CISM Exam Success: ISACA equips you with a comprehensive knowledge arsenal to conquer the CISM exam. Members gain exclusive access to the CISM Review Manual, a key resource comprehensively covering all the domains tested on the exam. This in-depth guide, available in both print and digital formats, becomes your trusted companion on the road to CISM certification.
  • Staying Ahead of the Curve: The information security space is a dynamic one, constantly evolving with emerging threats and new technologies. ISACA membership ensures you stay ahead of the curve with access to industry publications and research reports. These valuable resources, compiled by ISACA’s team of experts, provide insightful analyses of the latest trends and best practices.
  • Building Your Professional Network: ISACA membership boosts a sense of community, connecting you with a global network of information security professionals. This invaluable network offers a multitude of benefits. You can actively participate in local chapter meetings, online forums, and other networking events. Engaging with peers allows you to share best practices, exchange valuable insights, and gain practical knowledge from seasoned professionals in the field.
  • Elevating Your Credibility: Earning your CISM certification is a remarkable achievement, but ISACA membership takes it a step further. As a member, you have the privilege of using the designation “CISM (ISACA)” after your name. This esteemed credential immediately sets you apart from other information security professionals, signifying not only your expertise but also your commitment to the profession and adherence to ISACA’s rigorous ethical standards.
  • The cost of ISACA membership varies depending on your membership level (individual, student, etc.). However, the aforementioned benefits transcend the initial investment.  ISACA membership empowers you with the knowledge, resources, and network to not only effectively prepare for the CISM exam but also become a highly sought-after information security leader throughout your career. 

Here is a look at the membership fees and how it varies: 

Student $25
Recent Graduate $68
Professional $145 to join ($135/year after)

Training Materials

The CISM exam is a rigorous assessment of your knowledge and skills in information security management.  While ISACA membership provides a strong foundation, some candidates may choose to invest in additional training materials to solidify their understanding and optimize their exam preparation. Here’s an overview of the different types of training materials available:

CISM Review Courses:

Offered by various training providers, these comprehensive courses delve deep into the five domains tested on the CISM exam.  They typically involve instructor-led sessions, interactive exercises, and practice exams.  The cost of these courses can vary depending on the provider, format (in-person vs. online), and duration.

CISM Study Guides:

These self-paced resources serve as companions to the official ISACA CISM Review Manual.  They often provide additional explanations, practice questions, and case studies to enhance your exam preparation.  The price range for study guides can vary depending on the format (physical book vs. ebook) and publisher. Normally, this might cost you anywhere up to $50.

CISM Practice Exams:

Taking practice exams under timed conditions allows you to gauge your knowledge retention, identify areas requiring improvement, and familiarize yourself with the exam format.  

Several providers offer practice exams as standalone products or bundled with other training materials.  The cost for practice exams can vary depending on the number of questions offered and the level of detail provided in the answer explanations. Exam dumps by Dumpsgate are also a great resource to improve your practice and, in turn, your preparation for greater chances of success in the exam. These cost only $25 and contain over 1,000 questions.

Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether to invest in additional training materials:

  • Your Learning Style: Consider your preferred learning style. Do you learn best in a structured environment with instructor-led courses that provide a roadmap for your studies and the opportunity to ask questions in real-time? Or are you a self-directed learner who thrives with the flexibility of setting your own pace and learning independently through study guides and practice exams?
  • Your Budget:  Training materials can add to the overall cost of CISM certification.  Carefully evaluate your budget and determine the resources that provide the most value for your investment. Consider factors like the comprehensiveness of the materials, their alignment with the CISM exam content, and any additional features or support offered by the provider.
  • Your Existing Knowledge Base:  Evaluate your current understanding of information security concepts. If you have extensive experience in the field and possess a strong foundation in information security best practices, you might require less supplemental training compared to someone new to the information security domain. Conducting a self-assessment through practice exams or reviewing the CISM exam content outline can help you identify areas where you may benefit from additional study resources.

Application Processing Fee

Once you pass the CISM exam and meet the experience requirements, you can apply for your CISM certification. ISACA charges a one-time application processing fee to validate your experience and officially award you the credential. This fee typically falls within the range of USD 50 to USD 100.

Here are some key points to remember regarding the application processing fee:

  • The fee covers the administrative costs of processing your application and verifying your experience.
  • You’ll be required to pay this fee after passing the exam and fulfilling the experience requirements.
  • ISACA provides clear guidelines on acceptable documentation to demonstrate your experience in information security management.

By completing the application process and paying the associated fee, you’ll officially become a CISM-certified professional. This prestigious credential signifies your expertise and elevates your standing within the information security community.

Learn more about it: CCSP certification complete overview of job requirements, salary, and cost

Maximizing Your Investment: Strategies for a Smart Approach

Earning your CISM certification is a wise investment in your information security career.  By strategically leveraging these cost-saving measures, you can minimize the financial investment associated with CISM certification while still acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in the exam and your information security career. Here are some practical tips to consider:

Leverage Free Resources: 

Before investing in additional training materials, explore the wealth of free resources available online. ISACA itself offers a plethora of valuable resources beyond the member-exclusive benefits. Their website features a dedicated CISM candidate resource section comprising sample questions, exam preparation tips, and white papers on relevant information security topics.

Additionally, numerous industry publications, blogs, and online communities offer valuable insights and practice questions related to the CISM exam content. Utilize these free resources to solidify your knowledge base and gauge your understanding before deciding on additional paid study materials.

Explore Group Discounts: 

If you’re considering enrolling in a CISM review course, inquire about group discounts.  Many training providers offer reduced rates for groups, especially for companies sponsoring multiple employees for CISM certification.

Seek Employer Reimbursement:  

Many organizations recognize the value of the CISM credential and offer financial assistance to their employees pursuing this certification. Explore your company’s tuition reimbursement program or negotiate with your manager to offset some of the costs associated with CISM certification.   Demonstrate the value proposition of CISM for your organization and how your newly acquired expertise will benefit your team and the overall information security posture of the company.

Read more: CDPSE Certification Cost Salary and Worth

Beyond the Cost: The Value of CISM Certification

While the cost of CISM certification is a crucial consideration, it’s essential to weigh it against the significant value proposition this credential offers. Here’s a closer look at the benefits that  extend far beyond the initial investment:

Enhanced Earning Potential

Numerous studies highlight the positive impact of CISM certification on earning potential.  CISM certification positions you as a highly sought-after information security leader,  commanding a higher salary compared to your non-certified counterparts.

Career Advancement Opportunities:  

The CISM credential demonstrates your commitment to information security excellence and opens doors to lucrative career opportunities.  Organizations across various industries actively seek CISM-certified professionals to lead their information security programs,  manage security risks, and ensure data confidentiality, integrity, and availability.  Earning your CISM certification significantly enhances your resume and positions you as a top contender for leadership roles in the information security domain.

Professional Recognition

The CISM certification is a globally recognized symbol of expertise in information security management.  It signifies your dedication to the profession and earns you the respect of your peers within the information security community.  This recognition elevates your professional standing and establishes you as a thought leader in the field.

Improved Job Security 

Organizations require skilled information security professionals to safeguard their critical assets.  The CISM certification demonstrates your proficiency in identifying, mitigating, and recovering from security threats.  This expertise makes you a valuable asset to any organization,  enhancing your job security in a competitive market.

Continuing Education Opportunities

ISACA promotes a culture of continuous learning among CISM-certified professionals.  They offer a comprehensive range of CPE courses to help you stay current with the latest information security trends and best practices.  Maintaining your CISM certification requires fulfilling ongoing CPE requirements, ensuring you continuously refine your skills and adapt to the evolving threats. 

Final Thoughts

As we’ve explored throughout this blog post, the cost of CISM certification encompasses various components, including the exam fee, ISACA membership (optional but highly recommended), training materials, and the application processing fee. While the initial investment might seem significant, it’s crucial to consider the long-term benefits associated with this prestigious credential.

Remember, the true value of CISM certification extends far beyond the bottom line. It’s an investment in your professional growth, career advancement, and ultimately, your future success as an information security leader.

More On CISM: 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Studies consistently show that CISM certification can significantly increase earning potential. (Include a link to a relevant salary survey here.) The exact salary increase can vary depending on your experience, location, and industry. However, CISM-certified professionals generally command higher salaries compared to their non-certified counterparts.

The CISM certification is valid for three years. To maintain your credential, you must fulfill ongoing Continuing Professional Education (CPE) requirements offered by ISACA. This ensures you stay current with the latest information security trends and best practices.

Depends on your preferences! If you want to gain more managerial skills and aim to work in a leadership role, CISM may be a better choice for you. On the other hand, if the technical side of information security is more intriguing to you, you might want to consider pursuing CISSP



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