Salary Survey Extra: Deep Focus on ISACA CISA

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Salary Survey Extra is a series of dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our annual Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

The CISA certification from cybersecurity and IT governance association ISACA is the signature IT auditing certification.What does a certified information systems auditor do? There’s a succinct and engaging discussion of this unique and important IT role at GoCertify.com, and the author of that piece recommends ISACA’s Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) as the key credential of interest for persons who are interested in becoming IT auditors.

The CISA is reliably a fixture of each year’s Salary Survey 75 List (No. 16 on our most recent list, which is precisely where it landed in 2019), regularly ranking as one of the best-compensated certifications in the industry. Here’s what the salary picture looks like for CISA holders who responded to the Salary Survey:

All U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $131,870
Median Annual Salary: $126,670
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: 10.9 percent
Very Satisfied: 13 percent
Satisfied: 45.7 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 21.7 percent
Not At All Satisfied: 8.7 percent

All Non-U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $71,100
Median Annual Salary: $73,750
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: 8.7 percent
Very Satisfied: 11.4 percent
Satisfied: 31.4 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 31.4 percent
Not At All Satisfied: 17.1 percent

The largest single body of CISA holders to participate in the survey is made up of U.S. residents (57.5 percent of respondents), but we also heard from credential holders in 22 other countries:  Albania, Austria, Canada, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, and the United Kingdom.

Most of the CISA holders we heard from are men (95 percent of those surveyed), with just a handful of female certified professionals in the mix. A majority of the survey group is clustered around middle age, with nearly 70 percent of respondents either between the ages of 35 and 44 (32.5 percent) or between the ages 45 and 54 (36.3 percent). The rest are either between the ages of 25 and 34 (10 percent of respondents), between the ages of 55 and 64 (20 percent), or between the ages of 65 and 74 (1.2 percent).

More than 90 percent of the CISA holders who responded to the survey have an educational background that includes time spent at a college or university. The highest level of education completed by most CISA holders is either a master’s degree (56.3 percent of those surveyed), bachelor’s degree (25 percent), associate’s degree (3.9 percent), professional degree (3.6 percent), or doctorate (2.5 percent). The outliers are the 5 percent of respondents whose formal education went no further than completing some level of post-high school technical training, the 2.5 percent who exited the realm of formal education after completing high school, and the 1.2 percent who are currently students.

An impressive 97.6 percent of CISA holders who participated in the survey are employed full-time, with the remaining 2.4 percent either on sabbatical (1.2 percent) or out of work (also 1.2 percent). Among those who have full-time jobs, most are punching the clock either for the standard 40 hours per week (40.7 percent of respondents) or for between 41 and 50 hours per week (42 percent). The rest are either getting off easy with a full-time work schedule of between 31 and 39 hours per week (9.9 percent of those surveyed) or getting rubbed raw keeping their noses to the grindstone for more than 50 hours per week (7.4 percent).

At least prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, most CISA holders were spending the lion’s share of those hours in a traditional workplace setting, working from home either fewer than 10 hours per week (60.5 percent of those surveyed) or between 10 and 20 hours per week (16 percent). The rest were substantially more familiar with what has become the norm for many, working from home either between 21 and 30 hours (7.4 percent of respondents), between 31 and 39 hours per week (2.5 percent), 40 hours per week (6.2 percent), or more than 40 hours per week (7.4 percent).

In terms of workplace standing, the largest single group of CISA holders we heard from (35.6 percent of those surveyed) are employed at the senior specialist level. The rest, in descending order, are either managers (18.4 percent of respondents), senior managers (also 18.4 percent), directors (13.8 percent), specialists (9.2 percent), executives (3.4 percent), or rank-and-file employees (1.1 percent).

A strong 67.9 percent of the CISA holders who participated in the survey are IT veterans, having worked in a role that directly utilizes one or more of their certified skills for more than a decade. The rest have been plying their certified skills for either between zero years (1 to 11 months) and 2 years (2.2 percent of those surveyed), between 3 and 5 years (5.7 percent), between 6 and 8 years (17.2 percent), or between 9 and 10 years (7 percent).

Finally, here’s the view of CISA holders on key questions from the survey about how certification impacts job performance:

At my current job I use skills learned or enhanced through certification: 
Several times a day: 49.5 percent
Several times a week: 35.6 percent
Several times a month: 6.9 percent
Occasionally: 6.9 percent
Rarely: 1.1 percent

Since becoming certified, I feel there is greater demand for my skills. 
Strongly agree: 43.7 percent
Agree: 36.8 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 18.4 percent
Disagree: 1.1 percent
Strongly Disagree: [No responses]

Becoming certified has increased my problem-solving skills.
Strongly agree: 26.4 percent
Agree: 40.2 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 26.4 percent
Disagree: 7 percent
Strongly Disagree: [No responses]

Becoming certified has increased my workplace productivity.
Strongly agree: 21.8 percent
Agree: 38 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 31 percent
Disagree: 6.9 percent
Strongly Disagree: 2.3 percent

PAST CISA DEEP FOCUS FEATURES

2019

2018

2017

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CertMag Staff

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Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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