Q&A: How Long Does It Take To Get the CISSP Certification?

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification is one of the most esteemed credentials in the field of information security. Administered by (ISC)², the CISSP demonstrates a professional’s expertise in designing, implementing, and managing a best-in-class cybersecurity program. For many aspiring information security professionals, the question often arises: “How long does it take to get the CISSP certification?” The answer can vary widely based on several factors. This article explores these factors and provides a comprehensive timeline for obtaining the CISSP certification.

Understanding the CISSP Certification Requirements

Before delving into the timeline, it’s essential to understand the prerequisites for earning the CISSP Training . To qualify for the CISSP exam, candidates must have at least five years of cumulative, paid work experience in two or more of the eight domains of the CISSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK). These domains include:

  1. Security and Risk Management
  2. Asset Security
  3. Security Architecture and Engineering
  4. Communication and Network Security
  5. Identity and Access Management (IAM)
  6. Security Assessment and Testing
  7. Security Operations
  8. Software Development Security

If a candidate does not meet the work experience requirement, they can still take the exam and become an Associate of (ISC)². This status allows them six years to gain the required experience and become a fully certified CISSP.

The Preparation Phase

Self-Assessment and Planning (1-2 weeks)

The first step in the journey towards CISSP certification is a self-assessment. Prospective candidates need to evaluate their current knowledge and experience against the CISSP domains. This self-assessment helps in identifying areas where they need more focus and allows them to create a study plan. This phase typically takes about one to two weeks.

Study Materials and Resources (1-2 weeks)

Next, candidates must gather study materials. Recommended resources include the official (ISC)² CISSP Study Guide, CISSP Practice Exams, online courses (such as those offered by Cybrary, Pluralsight, and Coursera), and study groups or forums. This phase also involves scheduling study time and setting realistic goals. This can take another one to two weeks.

Studying and Review (3-6 months)

The most time-consuming part of the preparation is studying the material. Depending on the candidate’s familiarity with the subject matter, this phase can take anywhere from three to six months. A structured study plan, dedicating a few hours each day or more intensive weekend sessions, is critical during this period.

Practice Exams (1-2 months)

Practice exams are an essential part of preparation. They help candidates familiarize themselves with the exam format and identify areas that need further review. Taking multiple practice exams over one to two months can significantly improve confidence and performance on the actual exam day.

Taking the CISSP Exam

Scheduling the Exam (1-2 weeks)

Once candidates feel adequately prepared, they can schedule the CISSP exam through Pearson VUE. The scheduling process can typically be completed within one to two weeks, depending on the availability of test centers and preferred dates.

Exam Day (1 day)

The CISSP exam itself is a rigorous, six-hour test consisting of 250 multiple-choice and advanced innovative questions. It covers all eight CISSP domains, assessing a candidate’s knowledge and application of security principles.

Post-Exam Process

Receiving Results (0-2 weeks)

Candidates receive their unofficial results immediately after completing the exam. The official results are usually available within a week or two.

Endorsement Process (4-6 weeks)

After passing the exam, candidates must complete the (ISC)² endorsement process. This involves having another (ISC)² certified professional verify the candidate’s professional experience. This process can take four to six weeks.

Continuing Professional Education (CPE)

Maintaining the CISSP certification requires earning Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits. CISSPs must earn 120 CPE credits every three years to keep their certification in good standing.

Conclusion

In summary, the timeline for obtaining the CISSP certification varies based on an individual’s prior experience, study habits, and availability. On average, it takes most candidates about six to nine months to go from deciding to pursue the certification to becoming fully certified. This includes the preparation phase, taking the exam, and completing the endorsement process. However, with a structured study plan and dedication, candidates can achieve this prestigious certification and significantly advance their careers in information security.

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