ISACA’s CISM vs CRISC: Which Certification Is Right for You?

ISACA’s CISM vs CRISC: Which Certification Is Right for You?

Categories: Cyber Security|Published On: April 22, 2024|10.8 min read|
About the Author
Alan Yau - Cybersecurity Consultant and Trainer

Alan Yau

Seasoned Information Security specialist with expertise in Next Generation Security Operation Center, IT Cybersecurity Infrastructure Review, Penetration Testing, and more.
Trainocate X ISACA

Which Certification Is Right for You?

ISACA's CISM vs CRISC: Which Certification Is Right for You?

Comparing CISM & CRISC

Are you aiming to become a leader in the field of information security management? Grasping the distinctions between CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) and CRISC (Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control) certifications is essential.

These certifications validate your ability to manage and protect an organization’s information assets effectively. This guide will explore how the CISM and CRISC certifications compare, highlighting their unique focuses, requirements, exam details, and how they contribute to career growth in the cybersecurity industry.

You’ll gain the necessary insights to determine which certification aligns best with your professional aspirations and how each can help you advance in the dynamic field of cybersecurity.

ISACA Element
ISACA Element
ISACA Element

Key Takeaways

  • CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) certification emphasizes management, governance, and strategy in information security and requires five years of experience, while CRISC (Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control) focuses on IT and enterprise risk management with a different set of experience requirements.
  • Earning a CISM or CRISC certification has significant career benefits including job advancement, a competitive edge in the IT industry, and a potentially higher salary.
  • To maintain the CISM or CRISC credential, certified professionals must complete 20 continuing professional education (CPE) credits annually (120 over a three-year period) and adhere to ISACA’s Code of Professional Ethics to avoid revocation of the certification.

CISM Certification: Your Pathway to Becoming a Certified Information Security Manager

The CISM certification is a globally recognized credential that validates your proficiency in managing, designing, and overseeing an enterprise’s information security.

Fun fact: There’s 248% increased demand for CISM since 2018.

The organization behind this certification, ISACA, has an impressive reach serving more than 170,000 members across 188 countries, emphasizing the value and credibility that CISM brings to your professional profile.

The relevance of CISM certification is ever-increasing, particularly in light of the projected $10.5 trillion in damages from cybercrime expected by 2025.

Enterprises are in dire need of professionals who can manage risk and shield them from a myriad of threats. That’s where CISM-certified professionals step in, armed with the knowledge and expertise to safeguard networks and systems against cybercrime.

The Essence of CISM Certification

At its core, CISM certification is more than just a test of technical skills. It’s about the strategic and managerial aspects of information security. CISM validates your expertise in key areas such as information security governance, risk management, and incident response. This certification equips you with the skills required to manage and lead information security programs, making you an invaluable asset to any enterprise.

The CISM exam covers four comprehensive study areas:

  1. Information Security Governance
  2. Information Risk Management
  3. Security Program Development and Management
  4. Security Incident Management

This breadth of knowledge, coupled with recognition in the field, makes CISM a sought-after certification for aspiring security leaders. After all, when it comes to information security, who wouldn’t want to be led by an expert?

What makes CISM different?

First offered in 2002, CISM certification has been earned by over 88,000 information security professionals, with a MYR 182,000 average annual salary in Malaysia. CISM certification is held and valued by distinguished leaders across the spectrum of industry sectors and leading global brands, helping to solve the puzzle of getting the mix of critical technology and business skills and experience just right. — source: ISACA.

According to the latest estimates from Statista’s Market Insights, the global cost of cybercrime is expected to skyrocket in the next four years, rising from $9.22 trillion in 2024 to $13.82 trillion by 2028.

Having a CISM certificate sets you up with the expertise needed to handle cybersecurity challenges effectively, making it a top choice for security professionals aiming to safeguard organizations from cyber threats.

CRISC Certification: Mastering Risk and Information Systems Control

Now, let’s turn our attention to the CRISC certification. Recognized globally, Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) certification is an authoritative assessment of an IT professional’s risk management proficiency within an enterprise.

Fun Fact: There’s a 136% increased demand for CRISC since 2018.

The certification is tailored for professionals who manage risk at the enterprise level, ensuring they can identify, evaluate, and manage a variety of risks to strengthen information systems control.

CRISC certification is suitable for a diverse range of professionals, from IT and project managers to business analysts and compliance officers. As a CRISC-certified professional, you demonstrate your ability to effectively manage and communicate complex IT risks, create value-driven risk management programs, and establish best practices within an enterprise.

With its sole focus on enterprise IT risk management, CRISC certification prepares and enables IT professionals to become strategic partners to the enterprise.

Key Features of CRISC Certification

CRISC certification offers a multitude of key features that make it a desirable qualification for IT professionals. It is designed for those specializing in IT and enterprise risk management, and is one of the most sought-after qualifications in this field. CRISC-certified professionals are recognized for their expertise in managing enterprise IT risk and implementing effective information systems controls.

The certification encompasses comprehensive knowledge across four domains:

  1. Governance
  2. IT Risk Assessment
  3. Risk Response and Reporting
  4. Information Technology and Security

With such comprehensive coverage, CRISC certification undoubtedly enhances the credibility of the IT team in the eyes of stakeholders and clients.

What makes CRISC different?

CRISC is the only credential focused on IT risk professionals, offered since 2010, with over 40,000 individuals having earned certification. The annual renewal and CPE requirements ensure that CRISC holders will stay up to date to handle new challenges and trends, with over 25,000 currently holding certification boasting an average salary of $167K in North America. — source: ISACA

According to Statista – during the fourth quarter of 2023, data breaches exposed more than eight million records worldwide.

Security breaches are simply a part of today’s world that organizations need to accept and prepare for, and the best way to do so is to have a top-flight information security auditor on staff. One of the top certifications for security auditors is CRISC.

Steps to Achieving CISM & CRISC Certification

So, how do you go about obtaining the CISM or CRISC certification? First, you must meet the eligibility requirements, which include both education and work experience. Once eligible, you prepare for the exam using official review materials and potentially attending training courses.

1. Find the right training

Starting your certification journey on the right foot is key, and selecting top-notch training is a crucial step. As an official ISACA training partner, we at Trainocate Malaysia offer comprehensive training programs specifically designed for both CISM and CRISC certifications.

By enrolling in our courses, you gain access to extensive study materials, expert instruction, and a clear understanding of what to expect on the exams. Our courses are meticulously planned to cover all necessary topics in depth, ensuring you not only succeed in passing your exams but also deeply understand the material. We keep our courses up-to-date with the latest developments in cybersecurity, which is essential in this fast-evolving field.

Find out more about CISM & CRISC on our websites:

CISM: Certified Information Security Manager

CRISC: Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control

2. Preparing for the exam

Once you’ve completed the training, your next goal is to successfully pass the exam. Both the CISM and CRISC certification exams are designed to test your knowledge through a series of 150 multiple-choice questions, completed over a span of 4 hours (240 minutes). The exams are scored on a 200-800 point scale, and achieving a minimum of 450 points is required to pass.

At Trainocate Malaysia, we integrate the exam preparation into our training programs to ensure you are thoroughly prepared. By choosing to train with us, you benefit from dedicated exam preparation sessions that aim to equip you with the skills and confidence needed to pass the exam. These sessions include practice tests that simulate the actual exam environment, comprehensive review materials, and strategies for effective test-taking.

3. Eligibility and Prerequisites

Achieving CISM or CRISC certification involves more than just passing the exam; it also requires you to meet specific professional experience criteria.

  • CISM Requirements:

To qualify for the CISM credential, you must have five years of information security work experience. This must include a minimum of three years of information security management experience in three or more of the job practice analysis areas. This experience demonstrates your ability to manage and lead a security program effectively.

  • CRISC Requirements:

For the CRISC certification, you need at least three years of relevant work experience in IT risk management and information systems control. This background ensures that you have practical knowledge in identifying and managing IT risks.

While no specific degree is required for either certification, your qualifications can be enhanced through various forms of education and practical experiences, such as participating in official training programs. At Trainocate Malaysia, we offer official training that not only helps you pass your certification exams but also enriches your professional experience, preparing you to apply your knowledge effectively in real-world scenarios.

It’s not just about passing the exam, but showing that you have the practical experience to back up your knowledge.

Maintaining Your CISM or CRISC Credential

Once you achieve your CISM or CRISC certification, the journey doesn’t end there. Maintaining your certification is just as important. Both certifications are valid for three years from the date of issue.

To renew it, you must adhere to ISACA’s continuing professional education (CPE) policies and pay a renewal fee. Failure to comply with ISACA’s CPE policy can lead to revocation of the CISM certification.

1. Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Credits

To retain the active status of your CISM or CRISC certification, you are required to complete a minimum of 20 CPE hours annually and a total of 120 CPE hours in a three-year period. You can earn these CPE credits through:

  • Attending conferences
  • Attending online trainings/training weeks
  • On-demand learning
  • Skills-based training/lab activities
  • And more

All earned CPE credits must be reported to ISACA, and if selected for a CPE audit, you must present documented evidence for all reported CPE activities. Learn more about how to earn CPE on Isaca’s website.

2. Certification Renewal Fees

All ISACA certification holders are required to pay an annual maintenance fee to keep their credentials active. The fee is structured as follows:

  • For ISACA Members: $45 per year
  • For Non-members: $85 per year

These fees ensure that your certification remains valid and reflects your ongoing commitment to professional development in the field of information security and risk management.

3. Adhering to Professional Ethics

As a CISM/CRISC-certified professional, you agree to adhere to ISACA’s Code of Professional Ethics. These ethics require you to:

  • Perform your duties with due diligence
  • Maintain confidentiality
  • Encourage compliance with information governance standards
  • Ensure stakeholder education is supported

Breaching these ethics may lead to disciplinary actions, including an investigation into your conduct.

To ensure impartiality and prevent harassment, ISACA adheres to additional governance policies, including analysis control implementation, during the complaint process.

Choosing Between CISM and CRISC Certifications

Choosing between CISM and CRISC certifications ultimately boils down to your specific career goals. Here’s a detailed target audience for both certifications.

CISM’s target audience

  • Mid to high-level professionals in enterprises, who have a minimum five years of work experience in CISM domains
  • IT teams who interface with clients, regulators and external auditors
  • IT team leaders who are strategic liaisons with upper management and boards, and need to communicate potential vulnerabilities and solutions at a high level with typical non-IT audiences

CRISC’s target audience

  • IT managers
  • IT risk analyst
  • IT consultant
  • IT risk/security advisory manager
  • IT compliance manager
  • IT risk assessment specialist

Decision Factors

When deciding between CISM and CRISC, you should consider which certification aligns best with your long-term career goals.

If you aspire to advance as an information security leader, CISM would be your best bet.

On the other hand, if you see yourself specializing as an IT risk practitioner, then CRISC would be the better choice.

Enroll CISM & CRISC trainings with Trainocate today

Why wait any longer to advance your cybersecurity career?

Register for Trainocate’s CISM or CRISC certification training courses today. With expert guidance and comprehensive resources, you can confidently take the next step in your professional journey.

Don’t just dream about success, make it happen with Trainocate.




In the ever-evolving field of cybersecurity, standing out is key. With CISM and CRISC certifications, you can validate your expertise, unlock new opportunities, and elevate your earning potential. Whether you’re drawn to the strategic and managerial aspects of information security management with CISM, or the operational and technical components of IT risk management with CRISC, both certifications offer a pathway to success. With Trainocate’s comprehensive training programs, you are well-supported in your journey towards certification. So, why wait? Embark on your certification journey today and shape a brighter future in cybersecurity.

Empower your cybersecurity skills with ISACA Cybersecurity Training.

Explore how ISACA certifications can fuel your cybersecurity career journey. We’ve written additional blog posts delving into different aspects of ISACA’s value. Check them out below!

Top ISACA Cybersecurity Certifications 2024 | Career Advancement

Become a leader with ISACA: Cybersecurity Leadership

Your Ultimate Guide to the ISACA CISM Certification

Incorporating ISACA Certifications into Corporate Training Program

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the CISM certification?

The CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) certification is a globally recognized credential that validates proficiency in managing, designing, and overseeing an enterprise’s information security. It is a valuable certification for those in the field of information security.

2. What is the CRISC certification?

The CRISC (Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control) certification is a globally recognized assessment of an IT professional’s risk management proficiency within an enterprise. It demonstrates expertise in identifying and managing IT risks.

3. How do I choose between CISM and CRISC certifications?

Choose CISM if you are an experienced information security manager focused on strategic and managerial aspects, and opt for CRISC if you are an IT professional handling IT-related business risk identification and management. Both certifications cater to different career goals and skill sets.

4. How do I maintain my CISM or CRISC certification?

To maintain your CISM certification, you need to adhere to ISACA’s continuing professional education (CPE) policies, complete a minimum of 20 CPE hours annually, and a total of 120 CPE hours in a three-year period, along with paying a renewal fee.

5. Where do I get my CISM or CRISC training?

It is recommended to take your CISM or CRISC training at an official ISACA training partner like Trainocate Malaysia that offer comprehensive training programs specifically designed for both ISACA certifications.

ISACA Certifications
Alan Yau - Cybersecurity Consultant and Trainer