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Listen to: "Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA): How Are They Qualified?"

What Is a CISA?

CISA, which stands for Certified Information Systems Auditor, is a globally recognized credential for professionals working with information system (IS) auditing, and is accredited under ISO/IEC 17024:2012. As the most well-known designation for IS audit control, assurance, governance, compliance, and as a foundation for security professionals, CISA instantly gives IT managers and CIOs an insight into an IT professional’s capabilities. 

Designed and controlled by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), companies can offer clients the reassurance that their team’s information system auditors have undergone this robust certification process. As of 2021, there are more than 151,000 professionals in 180 countries hold ISACA-developed CISA credentials. 

Is CISA Internationally Recognized? 

Yes, CISA certification is recognized all around the world for IS audit, control and security professionals. It is ISACA’s most longstanding certification and, in fact, the exam is offered in 10 different languages.  

What Does it Take to Earn CISA Credentials? 

Preparation for the exam ranges from 4 to 8 months depending on the individual’s experience level and familiarity with all of the areas covered. IT professionals who want to earn a CISA accreditation need to participate in a course covering five domains, which are sometimes also called modules, before they are considered eligible to take the certification exam.  

 It is also imperative that the candidate adheres to a code of professional ethics and carries on studies through the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Program to earn their credentials. Eligibility is established at the time of exam registration and is good for twelve months. 

They can schedule the exam for any available date, time, or location within their 365-day eligibility period. Previously auditing professionals needed to plan carefully when pursuing CISA certification because it was conducted in-person only three times a year. The good news is that they can now register anytime online and the exam can now be taken online with a remote proctor in addition to the option of doing it at a testing center.  
The actual exam lasts four hours and consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. Still, will all the preparation support that is available, it’s considered extremely challenging. Usually, only 50% of individuals taking the test pass; the percentage is even lower for those taking it for the first time. High quality of the examination process is ensured through a stringent review process, test exams, and updates recommended by independent committees. 

What Does the Five Domain CISA Examination Preparation Course Cover?

Each of the five CISA domains informs the student about an individual aspect of IS auditing, providing a discretely earned credit upon completion. The course is also comprehensive, and it is required for students to earn credits for each module before applying for certification. 

Domain 1 – The Process of Auditing Information Systems

This domain features lessons and tools that help the CISA candidate gain the knowledge they need to meet the highest standards and to provide the best audit for information systems. With this module, the candidate will be able to confidently provide thorough control and protection of any business and its information systems.

Domain 2 – CISA’s Role Regarding IT Governance and Management

Domain 2 helps candidates learn to develop strong and sound IS management mechanisms and control approaches. Once certified, CISA candidates can provide an organization with assurance of best policies, accountability, and monitoring structures to reach peak IT governance.

Domain 3 – CISA’s Role Regarding Systems and Infrastructure Life Cycle Management

In this domain, CISA certification candidates learn about processes and methodologies that modern organizations use while updating or reinventing infrastructure components of their systems. This model features IS acquisition and development and implementation studies.

Domain 4 – CISA’s Role Regarding IT Service Delivery and Support

The candidate will learn about processes and methodologies in different IT systems in this domain. An important component of this lesson includes the learning how to approach an IS audit in the event of a disruption. Disaster recovery procedures are essential for the timely resumption of database services for IS operations, maintenance and service management. With a CISA candidate’s success in this module, an employer can rest easy knowing that they can resume regular business processes quickly and with minimal losses.

Domain 5 – CISA’s Role Regarding Protection of Information Assets

The integrity, availability and confidentiality of a business’s information assets is paramount, and domain 5 covers these features intensively. The CISA candidate will also learn about instituting physical and logical access control, as well as additional security measures.

Who Is Eligible to Apply to Become a CISA?

ISACA only considers serious candidates for this globally renowned certification and requires strict academic and professional criteria for candidates.
Candidates must have a minimum of 5 years of professional information systems auditing, control or security work experience, but there are waivers and substitutions to acknowledge various alternative professional and educational backgrounds for CISA candidates.

What Is a CISA Certification Good For? 

CISA certification is extremely important for IT professionals and is has practically become a required credential in this industry. CISA can demonstrate your experience and assert your ability to plan, execute, and report on audit engagements using a risk-based approach if you are an entry-level to mid-career professional. 
“The CISA credential is often a mandatory qualification for employment as an IS auditor,” said Frank Schettini, ISACA’s chief innovation officer. “As the business technology landscape rapidly evolves and creates new challenges, employers recognize that CISA-certified professionals have the knowledge and global credibility to deliver on rising expectations for audit, control and security professionals.” 

What Are the Benefits of Hiring a CISA?

Whether your organization features a roster of international clients, or you simply want to reassure your local and national clients that you expertly manage your information system’s infrastructure with their best interests in mind, CISA is essential. A CISA certification confirms that your auditor can easily undertake an information technology audit, ensuring they can objectively and thoroughly examine your organization’s operations.

Given the technology-focused nature of modern business, it is crucial to properly safeguard assets, maintain data integrity, and operate effectively to achieve your organization’s goals or objectives within a safe computing environment. Similar to a CPA, a CISA provides IT specialization and an additional layer of qualifications to make sure your organization meets or exceeds the ideal auditing criteria for the desired results.

Experienced CISA Professionals When You Need It

If no one on your team is currently a CISA, we can help you at I.S. Partners, LLC. Our IS auditing team members hold CISA certification and can quickly and effectively assess your processes. We are happy to help you achieve all of your organization’s auditing goals and objectives. Learn more about our CISA Advisory services.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2017 and has since been updated and corrected for accuracy.

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