Salary Survey Extra: Deep Focus on ISACA CISA
Posted on
September 7, 2018

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 These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

ISACA's CISA credential is the gold standard for information systems auditors.

What does a certified information systems auditor do? There’s a succinct and engaging discussion of this unique and important IT role at, 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 a recurring presence in our annual Salary Survey 75 rankings (No. 11 on this year’s list), and reliably stakes out a position in the upper echelons of IT salary. Here’s what the salary picture looks like for CISA holders who responded to the Salary Survey:

All U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $135,160
Median Annual Salary: $128,570
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: 6.1 percent
Very Satisfied: 24.4 percent
Satisfied: 51.2 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 17.1 percent
Not At All Satisfied: 1.2 percent

All Non-U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $84,650
Median Annual Salary: $90,000
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: 3.8 percent
Very Satisfied: 13.5 percent
Satisfied: 42.3 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 26.9 percent
Not At All Satisfied: 13.5 percent

The largest single body of CISA holders who responded to the survey is made up of U.S. residents (61.2 percent), but we also heard from certified professionals is 26 other countries: Australia, Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Qatar, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, and Zambia.

There are somewhat more women among CISA holders — 13 percent of respondents — than is the norm in IT, though men still rather comfortably predominate. On the age spectrum, CISA holders lean toward late middle age, with 37.3 percent of those surveyed between the ages of 45 and 54, and 28.4 percent between the ages of 55 and 64. The more youthful outliers are either between the ages of 35 and 44 (24.6 percent of respondents) or between the ages of 25 and 34 (9.7 percent).

In terms of the highest level of formal education completed, the overwhelming majority of CISA holders hold some form of college degree, either a master’s degree (46.3 percent of respondents), bachelor’s degree (38.8 percent), associate’s degree (5.2 percent), professional degree (1.5 percent), or doctorate (0.8 percent). A tiny handful either concluded their formal education with some degree of technical training after high school (6.7 percent of respondents) or are currently in school (0.7 percent).

Full-time employment among CISA holders is at a rock solid 91.7 percent of those surveyed, with 5.5 percent employed part-time, 0.7 percent on sabbatical, and just 2.1 percent currently unemployed. Among those with full-time jobs, most put in either a standard 40 hours per week (32.1 percent of respondents) or are on the clock for between 41 and 50 hours per week (45.5 percent). The outliers are the 14.9 percent of those surveyed who work more than 50 hours per week, the 6.8 percent who work between 31 and 39 hours per week, and the 0.7 percent who put in fewer than 20 hours per week.

In terms of workplace standing, the largest single group of CISA holders, 36.9 percent of those surveyed, are at the senior specialist level. The rest, in descending order, are  either managers (21.7 percent of respondents), senior managers (14.6 percent), directors or executives (10.2 percent per each), or specialists (6.4 percent). No one who responded is a mere rank-and-file employee, which is something of a stark rarity in our Salary Survey annals.

Well more than half of those surveyed — 70.1 percent — 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 (1.9 percent of respondents), between 3 and 5 years (6.4 percent), between 6 and 8 years (12.7 percent) or between 9 and 10 years (8.9 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: 59.2 percent
Several times a week: 25.5 percent
Several times a month: 10.2 percent
Occasionally: 3.2 percent
Rarely: 1.9 percent

Since becoming certified, I feel there is greater demand for my skills.
Strongly agree: 40.1 percent
Agree: 43.9 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 10.8 percent
Disagree: 3.2 percent
Strongly Disagree: 1.9 percent

Becoming certified has increased my problem-solving skills.
Strongly agree: 27.4 percent
Agree: 46.5 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 17.8 percent
Disagree: 5.1 percent
Strongly Disagree: 3.2 percent

Becoming certified has increased my workplace productivity.
Strongly agree: 23.6 percent
Agree: 43.2 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 26.8 percent
Disagree: 3.2 percent
Strongly Disagree: 3.2 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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