Salary Survey Extra: Deep Focus on ISACA CISA
Posted on
June 23, 2017

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 These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

ISACA's CISA certification is a key credential in the IT auditing realm.

What does a certified information systems auditor do? There's a succinct and engaging discussion of this unique and important  IT role at that also 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 a recurring presence in our annual Salary Survey 75 rankings (No. 26 on this year's list), and reliably stakes out a position in the upper echelons of IT salary.

A majority (67.5 percent) of the CISA-certified individuals who responded to our 2016 Salary Survey live and work in the United States, but CISA also has a large global footprint. We heard from CISA holders in 26 other nations: Albania, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom.

Among CISA-certified professionals in the United States, the average annual salary in 2016 was $126, 540, with a median annual salary of $125,000. For those outside the United States, the average annual salary was $98,400, with a median annual salary of $97,000.

A solid majority of those surveyed are men (88 percent), but there was double-digit representation of women, something of a rarity in IT circles. CISA, it would seem, is not for young folk: We didn't hear from a single individual younger than 25, and just 7.2 percent of those surveyed are between the ages of 25 and 34. Though there is a notable bloc of CISA holders (26.8 percent of those surveyed) who are between the ages of 35 and 44, most are either comfortably into middle age, between the ages of 45 and 54 (36.8 percent) or eyeing retirement between the ages of 55 and 64 (24.4 percent).

The highest level of education attained by most CISA holders is either a master's degree (49.3 percent) or bachelor's degree (31.6 percent). If you aren't university-educated, then the most common educational background is either an associate's (two-year) degree (5.7 perent), or some form of non-collegiate technical training (5.3 percent).

Most CISA holders surveyed are employed full-time — 94.7 percent — versus just 2.9 percent who are unemployed, or 1.5 percent who work part-time. Among those who have full-time jobs, more than 58 percent have a longer-than-normal work week, putting in either between 41 and 50 hours (45.9 percent), or more than 50 hours (13.5 percent). Just 28.7 percent work a standard 40 hours per week, while a lucky 10.9 percent work between 31 and 39 hours per week.

Based on our data, it's quite common to find CISA-certified professionals in management roles. While senior specialist (33.5 percent) is the most common job level among survey respondents, a shade more than 20 percent of those surveyed are managers, with 13.4 percent serving as senior managers, 15.7 percent at the director level, and 8.6 at the top of the pyramid in executive roles. Almost no CISA holders are either specialists (6.3 percent of those surveyed) or rank-and-file employees (2.4 percent).

Just as most CISA holders we surveyed are older work, most are also highly experienced in their field: 67.9 percent have been plying their certified skills for more than 10 years. The next largest group have been in the game for between 9 and 10 years (12.9 percent of those surveyed), and smaller contingents have between 6 and 8 years of experience (6.7 percent), between 3 and 5 years of experience (9.6 percent), or between zero years (1 to 11 months) and 2 years of experience (2.9 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: 55 percent
Several times a week: 25.4 percent
Several times a month: 12 percent
Occasionally: 5.7 percent
Rarely: 1.9 percent

Since becoming certified, I feel there is greater demand for my skills.
Strongly agree: 45.5 percent
Agree: 38.7 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 12.9 percent
Disagree: 1.9 percent
Strongly Disagree: 1 percent

Becoming certified has increased my problem-solving skills.
Strongly agree: 24.4 percent
Agree: 38.3 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 26.8 percent
Disagree: 8.6 percent
Strongly Disagree: 1.9 percent

Becoming certified has increased my workplace productivity.
Strongly agree: 19.6 percent
Agree: 39.2 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 31.2 percent
Disagree: 8.1 percent
Strongly Disagree: 1.9 percent

About the Author

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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