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Certified Information Systems Auditor Career Guide

How To Become a Certified Information Systems Auditor

Certified information systems auditors are a foundational piece in successful IT departments. These IT professionals perform audits of technology governance structures, data application controls, data integrity, and system security. Simply put, they’re responsible for the protection of information assets and providing recommendations for IT systems to keep them high-functioning and secure.

The Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certificate is issued by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA). Securing this title is a defining step in the journey to entering this line of work. It’s a recognized standard for appraising an IT auditor's knowledge, expertise, and skill in assessing vulnerabilities and instituting IT controls in an enterprise environment. CISA candidates must have at least five years of professional experience and must undertake 20 hours of training annually to keep their designation.

Working as a CISA is a fulfilling career with daily variety, attractive benefits and salaries, and a positive job outlook. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about certified information systems auditors and the necessary steps to start your career.

female CISO crunching numbers using a calculator

What Is a Certified Information Systems Auditor?

CISAs are recognized internationally as professionals with the skills, experience, and credibility to leverage standards, manage vulnerabilities, ensure compliance, offer solutions, institute controls, and deliver value to enterprise-level IT systems. They’re responsible for auditing, controlling, and providing cybersecurity measures for information systems operations in business and IT industries.

To receive a Certified Information Systems Auditor certification, candidates must pass a comprehensive exam and satisfy industry work experience requirements.

With a CISA certification and a relevant degree, you have a wide variety of job titles you’re qualified to hold. Some common information systems auditor jobs include:

  • Internal Auditor
  • Public Accounting Auditor
  • IS Analyst
  • IT Audit Manager
  • IT Project Manager
  • IT security officer
  • Network Operation Security Engineer
  • Cybersecurity Professional
  • IT Consultant
  • IT Risk and Assurance Manager
  • Privacy Officer
  • Chief Information Officer

What Does a Certified Information Systems Auditor Do?

The daily work of a CISA has a lot of variety, so if you’re interested in this career, rest assured that you won’t be bored. From developing audit strategy to providing recommendations to IT management, CISAs perform essential tasks to maintain the health and effectiveness of a company’s IT systems.

Day-to-day responsibilities of a certified information systems auditor include:

  • Implementing a risk management-based audit strategy for information systems (IS). 
  • Planning audits that can be used to determine whether or not IT assets are protected, managed, and valuable.
  • Executing the audits in compliance with the organization's set standards and objectives.
  • Sharing audit results and providing recommendations to management based on the results.
  • Performing reexaminations of the audits to ensure the recommended actions have been performed by management.
  • Obtaining, installing, and integrating software as part of information systems acquisition efforts.

How Do I Become a Certified Information Systems Auditor?

CISAs are highly educated professionals. One essential prerequisite is that you have a relevant bachelor’s degree—however, many seek a master’s degree in accounting or an MBA in IT, which makes them more competitive in the job market. An accounting degree may seem unrelated at first glance, but accountants have the same auditing skills needed in the CISA profession. On top of a degree, you’ll also need to secure a certification and follow a continuing education program to stay on top of industry standards. 

Essential steps to become certified information systems auditor:

CISA Degree Options

Information Technology Management – M.S.

A degree for experienced IT professionals ready to lead:...

A degree for experienced IT professionals ready...

A degree for experienced IT professionals ready to lead:

  • Time: 89% of graduates finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $4,235 per 6-month term.

Included in your program—at no extra cost—is the opportunity to earn the valuable PMI Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification.

Maximize the opportunities that your IT career path has afforded you—earn your master's and keep moving up. 

MBA Information Technology Management

Earn the online college degree that can move your career into IT...

Earn the online college degree that can move your...

Earn the online college degree that can move your career into IT upper management:

  • Time: Graduates can finish in 12 months
  • Tuition and fees: $4,675 per 6-month term.

Sample careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Chief technology officer
  • Director of IT services
  • Senior systems administrator
  • Management information systems director
  • Computer and information systems manager

Learn to navigate emergencies, execute strategies, and optimize systems with the competencies within this specialty MBA.

Compare with M.S. IT Management

Accounting – B.S. Business Administration

Have a knack for numbers or fine-tuning finances?...

Have a knack for numbers or fine-tuning finances?...

Have a knack for numbers or fine-tuning finances?

  • Time: 70% of graduates finish within 41 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,720 per 6-month term.

Some careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Accounting manager
  • Financial director
  • Vice president of finance and operations
  • Chief financial officer
  • Forensic accountant

Take your first step toward CPA certification and learn how to use GAAP, ledgers, and journals.

Accounting – M.S.

Become better qualified to pursue a greater variety of public...

Become better qualified to pursue a greater...

Become better qualified to pursue a greater variety of public and private accounting positions:

  • Time: 70% of grads finish within 23 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $4,675 per 6-month term.

Some careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Accountant
  • Accounting manager
  • Internal audit manager
  • Senior accountant
  • Other specialized finance roles

This MAcc program is designed to prepare you for the CPA exam and also the CMA or CIA exams.


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What Skills Does a Certified Information Systems Auditor Need?

male CISO crunching numbers using a calculator

Certified information systems auditors are in charge of keeping important and sensitive information safe and compliant, which is why it’s so important that they are adequately trained. The following is a detailed list of skills and prerequisites you need to start your career as a CISA.

  • One year of information systems experience or non-information systems auditing experience
  • 60 to 120 completed university semester credit hours (60 credit hours is equivalent to one year of work experience and 120 credit hours is equivalent to two years of work experience) 
  • A bachelor’s degree from a university sponsoring ISACA (although many also pursue a master’s degree in information security or information technology)
  • Experience with general and application control reviews for both simple and complex computer information systems
  • Deep knowledge of developing and maintaining computerized audit software
  • The ability to conform to the company’s financial policies and procedures so that they accommodate all local, state, and federal parameters

How Much Does a CISA Make?

$136,082

Depending on experience and location, professionals with CISA certification can make between $52,459 and $140,342 per year. Internal audit directors are one of the highest-paid positions with a CISA certificate, earning an average annual salary of $136,082.

What Is the Job Outlook for a CISA?

12%

The job market for aspiring CISAs is growing and the salary opportunities are high. IT security auditors benefit from an estimated 12% growth in employment from 2018 to 2028. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information technology occupations will add more than 500,000 positions by 2028.

Do I Need Certifications for This Profession?

Yes

To become a certified information systems auditor, you’ll need to obtain the CISA certification. This entails passing the CISA exam and applying for certification. To learn more about the exam, visit isaca.org.

Frequently Asked Questions About CISA

CISAs can work in a variety of professional settings. They often work with companies and organizations to provide comprehensive audits of online security systems. It’s also not uncommon for them to work as independent consultants or consultants for auditing firms. Large corporations will often hire full-time information systems auditors, while small businesses are more likely to hire consultants.

To work as a CISA, you’ll need a bachelor’s or master’s degree in accounting. Many CISAs also hold a master’s degree in information security or information technology.

On average, if you study for two to three hours a day, you’ll be ready to sit for the exam within two months. The CISA examination is a four-hour exam consisting of 150 multiple choice questions. Once you register for the CISA exam you have 12 months to schedule and take the test.

Interested in Becoming a Certified Information Systems Auditor?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this lucrative career.

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