Which One is Best for Career Growth?

See also: Lifelong Learning

Let’s clear up one thing before we go any further; both the CISA and CISSP information security certifications will have a positive impact on your career.

Indeed, any additional training you participate in or qualification you earn will lead to a better and brighter future, whether that’s a role with more responsibilities, a promotion or a better-paying job elsewhere.

However, it’s possible to separate these two particular courses and qualification according to what your own professional aims and ambitions are, and where you see yourself in the next five to ten years.

Hold on tight as we drill down into the details of the skills and specifics of each certification, showing you what opportunities they open up, and giving you a framework on which to base your decision.

Close up of business man holding a folder and notebook.

Understanding CISA skills & benefits

Becoming a Certified Information Systems Auditor means getting a CISA certification and, in doing so, acquiring the specific technical skills needed to oversee the IT infrastructure of an entire organization.

As the name suggests, this is fairly focused on the particulars of auditing the cyber resources of modern businesses.

To complete the CISA course, you’ll be tested on all sorts of relevant knowledge. However, there are many other skills needed to fulfill this role, such as:


Few jobs are completely free from any requirement for communication skills, and you’d be wrong to assume that an IT role is any different.

In fact, for those who want to become a CISA, learning to communicate effectively with others is the crux of career growth in the long term.

You have to be able to express yourself well, whether verbally or in written form. You also need to know how to listen, because without the ability to hear what others are saying, it’s difficult to stay on top of the needs of your employer.

Public speaking

Another transferable skill which IT auditors must acquire is that of being a confident public speaker. After completing an audit, you’ll typically need to present your findings to a committee, and so you have to be comfortable with holding court in such scenarios.

A combination of knowing your area of expertise inside out, along with rigorous prep and planning, will help a lot in this context.

This also ties into communication skills, because you don’t want to get overly technical when presenting a report to non-experts. Clarity and the ability to translate in-depth ideas to people in a way they can understand will give you the edge.

Problem solving

When auditing IT systems, you will need to be adept at rooting out issues which exist so that these can be highlighted to decision-makers within a business.

However, this is really only half the battle, since problem solving skills must also be brought to bear on your part in order to fix the foibles you’ve found.

Various other skills fall under the umbrella of problem solving, from creative thinking and research, to being a team player and knowing how to manage risk and make decisions rather than procrastinating.

So, in short, if you settle on the CISA, you will be expected to hone a wide range of skills that will propel you along this career path, as well as being valued even if you do decide to change direction in future.

Investigating CISSP skills & opportunities

Taking things up a gear and broadening your horizons by becoming accredited as a Certified Information Systems Security Professional is a logical step for many cyber specialists who have significant ambitions.

On paper, a CISSP is attractive because they are some of the most in-demand IT professionals around right now. In turn this means the prospect of a wider range of jobs, and better salary to boot.

Of course, it’s possible to make the leap from being a CISA to a CISSP with additional training. In fact, it is rare for anyone to take this journey in reverse.

This means that in the simple terms, the CISSP is the more attractive certification to have on your resume. Things are always more complex than this, of course, and lots of widely applicable skills come into play here as well, including:

Emotional intelligence

Being emotionally intelligent is a two-pronged process which covers both how we handle our own actions and mental states, along with how we wrangle relationships with the other people in our lives.

For security professionals, having emotional intelligence is important since it covers everything from trustworthiness and initiative-taking to appreciating how to exert influence and catalyze change within a business.

Many of us need to work more on our emotional intelligence, and it’s unhelpful to assume that you are either stuck with an innate amount of these skills, or that you are already appropriately endowed with them because of your upbringing or past experiences.


Anyone with a CISSP certification will usually be tasked with more senior duties, and this means leadership responsibilities fall well within their remit.

People management is particularly pertinent here as you’ll be responsible for overseeing a team of employees in order to enact the best strategies and policies for a business’ cyber needs.

In addition, you’ll have to master the art of forging a vision for where to take the company from an IT and security perspective, and then seeing these plans through to fruition.

It’s an intricate web of interlocking skills which fuel the most successful CISSP careers and, as with the CISA certification, you’ll be able to deploy these abilities widely wherever your life takes you.

Wrapping up

By dint of its narrower focus, a CISA certification is arguably not as capable of growing your career as the CISSP. However, this in itself is perhaps an imperfect comparison, since you can tackle both at different stages, and one may lead to the other, as discussed.

The main takeaway is that building on your soft skills in any role will always be worthwhile, as these can complement any technical learning and training you go through to a significant degree.

About the Author

Cristina Par is a content specialist with a passion for writing articles that bridge the gap between brands and their audiences. She believes that high-quality content plus the right link building strategies can turn the tables for businesses small and large.