CISA Certification Cost and Exam Fee Structure

cisa certification cost

Let’s check out the CISA certification costs. The most common question I hear about CISA is, “How much does it cost to take the CISA exam?” While the answer is a simple enough one, there are also many other things to consider that are a part of this. Knowing all the info and all the angles is really the best way to look at this question. In addition, you want to know what you get for the fees you pay. So, it’s not as simple as, “You pay $xx” and move on.

If you’re planning on getting your CISA certification, you have to take the exam. That’s going to cost you some money. In addition, there are other CISA requirements and other fees you may need to pay.

Learning about these costs in advance will be very important to prepare for the exam. How much is the CISA exam? Is it worth all the time, money and effort? If you’re going to take the CISA examination, one of the first things on your mind might be how much it costs. In this post, I’m going to break it down for you – explain each cost, why you need it (or don’t need it) and help you navigate the CISA certification fee waters.

Let’s go!

CISA Certification Costs

When it comes to CISA certification costs, the first big questions are what you pay and when you pay. These certification exams can be pricey, and while necessary, it makes sense if you want to know what you’re getting into upfront. Let’s look at the fees involved, starting with the optional membership dues.

1. ISACA Membership (Optional)

Membership to ISACA is optional, but there are some reasons you may want to consider it. CISA membership fees consist of international dues, local chapter dues, and new member fees. Here is the level in 2019:

  • International dues: $135
  • Local chapter dues: range from $0 to 140
  • New membership fee: $10 if online; $30 if faxed

Although you don’t need to be a member to take the CISA exam, the membership discount to exam fee ($185) is enough to offset this membership fee in the majority of cases. There are also some additional benefits to the membership over time (such as free CPE classes/credits) so many people decide to go for membership. In the long term, it benefits you the most.

Other Benefits to ISACA Membership

There are also other benefits to getting your ISACA Membership. For example, you have access to over 70 free CPE credit courses. Since you’re going to need the CPE in the future, it can’t hurt to get the membership now, take advantage of the reduced exam costs, and reap additional benefits later.

What are the next costs?

2. CISA Certification Exam Cost

While membership to the ISACA is optional, the costs of the actual CISA exam are not. You will need to pay fees to “sit” for your exam. This is a registration fee that ensures people actually show up when they are supposed to in order to take the test. It also helps cover the expenses at testing centers, such as the proctors on site, and it helps with the processing of the scoring.

Basically, everything that is needed to keep CISA exams running will be, at least partially, funded by the fees you pay. Registration fees serve a purpose, and they are important, even if you can’t see all of that upfront when being asked to ay them. So, what do you need to pay to register to take this CISA exam?

The following refers to online registration. Mailing and faxing your registration will incur an additional cost of $75. This is because CISA, like many places today, is trying to go all digital as much as possible.

2019 CISA Exam Fee
Member
Non-Member
Early-bird registration
$525
$710
Standard registration
$575
$760

The CISA exam fee itself has not increased since 2017, at least, so this is good news. If you want to save as much as possible, go for the early bird registration. It will save you $50 off whichever registration you choose (member or non-member) and that $50 really adds up.

3. Additional CISA Exam Cost

Are there any other additional CISA exam costs? What if you need to defer your exam because you can’t make the date you registered for?

If you need to defer your exam, there is a processing charge of $50 to $100 depending on when you submit the request. If you know you have to defer, earlier is always better, of course. These slots in the exam seats are highly sought after.

There is no discount for retakers. This is a good incentive to pass the exam on your first try!

4. Certification Application Fee

Furthermore, you need to pay $50 for a one-time application fee, followed by a maintenance fee every year, as shown below.

5. Annual Maintenance Fee

Once you fulfill all the requirements, you can obtain the certificate. The annual maintenance fee is $40 for members and $65 for non-members.

6. Other CISA Certification Cost

CISA exam fee paid at the registration does not include any study materials. The study materials cost anywhere from $40 for a study guide, to $300+ for the official CISA review manual and question database. Please refer to this page for review and comparison.

So, does that sound like a lot in terms of CISA costs? Well, it’s really not all that bad in comparison to other exams. There are also ways you can plan ahead and save more money. Let’s take a look at the different potential scenarios and play out how much you could pay vs. how much you could save.

CISA Certification Cost Comparison

How much could you save on CISA certification? Let’s do a cost comparison to find out. Here are four scenarios. The first two reflect a well-planned candidate who makes good use of the savings, such as registering online and getting an early-bird discount.

The last two reflect a “disorganized” candidate who registers late and without using the online system, and defers his exam. This shows the most you would need to pay to take this examination. .

The difference between member and non-member is small, but the timing of application has a bigger impact:

Member
early-bird
Non-Member
early-bird
Member
Regular
Non-member
Regular
Membership fee (median)* $175  – $175  –
Exam Registration $525  $710 $575  $760
Mail-in application charge  –  – $75  $75
Deferral charge  –  – $200  $200
Certificate application fee $50  $50 $50  $50
Certificate maintenance fee $45  $85 $45  $85
Review materials $450 $450 $450 $450
Total $1,245 $1,295 $1,570 $1,620

In conclusion, plan ahead. When you take advantage of all the discounts and opportunities to save afforded to you,  it can add up quite a bit. You’re looking at potentially $400 in savings.

Lastly, is the CISA Exam Cost More Expensive than Other Professional Exams?

With only one exam part and relatively less expensive review materials, your CISA investment is likely the most affordable of the other exams. Let’s take a look at how it stacks up to other popular exams and courses.

Here is estimated spending in USD for your reference:

Exam fees only  Exam fees + review course
 CPA  ~$1,000  ~$3,000
 CIA  ~ $1,000  ~$2,000
 CMA  ~$1,300  ~$2,500
 CFA  ~$3,000  ~$4,500

As you can see from the chart, the CISA exam comes out cheaper than these others once you factor in a great review course to the exam fees as well. Of course, when it comes to your career, it’s not about cutting corners. You want to get the best

CISA Fee Comparisons

Let’s take a look at the breakdown of those fee comparisons a bit more. I am going to use the Regular Member pricing for the purposes of comparison here. Keep in mind that some prices will vary and there are discounts and study materials both to factor in.

CPA Fees vs CISA Fees

Your CPA exam will run you around $1,000 before your review courses. With CISA sitting around $1500, you can see this is cheaper.

CIA Fees vs CISA Fees

Looking on, the CIA exam is also around $1,000 for exam fees only. Additionally, it’s cheaper than CISA before you factor in the review course materials, too.

CMA Fees vs CISA Fees

Next, we have CMA fees coming in at around $1,300 in exam fees only. With CISA at $1,570 for regular members, that’s still cheaper. If you get the member discount and the early-bird discount on CISA, it could come out lower than the CMA base exam fee, but only just barely at $1,245.

CFA Fees vs CISA Fees

Finally, we have CFA exam fees at $3,000. This is before review courses. As you can see, the CFA is more expensive than the CISA, even if you miss all the opportunities to save on CISA.

Keep in mind that it’s not just about the cost, or about choosing the certification that is cheapest. Since each is designed for a different specialty, it really wouldn’t make any sense. Rather, you’re going to choose the certification that meets your needs the most. You will need to choose the one that puts you in the best position for the career path you plan to take. It’s not about the cheapest course. This is just meant to serve as a tool for showing you how it measured up to similar exam costs.

What’s In It for the Price?

Even more important than just asking how much each exam costs, is asking what you get for it. CISA is worth it when you look at the breakeven rate, the same as the rest of these highly regarded courses. What do I mean by this?

CISA Breakeven

Furthermore. If you’re feeling a bit stressed about the initial costs of the exam, take a look at the CISA breakeven rate. The average salary range for a professional holding the CISA certification ranges approximately from $52,459 to $122,326. So, while it may cost you up to $1600 in exam fees, plus the costs of study materials before then, you will recoup those costs in your first year of working as a certified CISA.

Any time you look at certification courses like this, know that they are an investment in your career. Therefore, it’s an investment into your future as well. You cannot get a top level job in this field without having passed the exam. CISA has even stricter requirements for the entire certification process, apart from the exam itself.

You need to have at least 5 years of experience in information system auditing, control or security. The work experience must be gained within 10 years preceding the application date, or within 5 years from the date of passing the exam.

As you can see, that’s a lot of work expertise! The CISA certification is a way for you to prove you have this work experience, have passed the CISA exam, and met all other requirements for CISA certification. It’s far more than just “some test”. It’s very important.

CISA Certification Cost in India

As you may know, CISA is available in other countries as well. It is growing internationally, especially in India. This is a popular testing location for CISA. Are you looking for information on CISA course fees in India?

CISA cost in India will be the same as taking it elsewhere. The more important thing to know about CISA in India is that the exam is still given in English. If English is not your first language, you may want to be sure you are very comfortable reading and writing it as part of your exam prep. 

Most of the exam prep courses are in English as well, although some have been translated to other languages to make it easier for you to study. This is something else to consider and research if you plan to take CISA in India (or other countries).

CISA Exam Fees Conclusions

At the end of the day, if you’re going to take the CISA exam, you’re going to pay for it. There’s just no getting around this aspect of it. All of these exams have exam fees, registration fees, etc. What I hope you learned from this post is more information about what you are paying for, how many fees there are, and also how you can plan ahead and save a bit more. You will also find discount codes for course review, information about choosing a course review, and so much more here on the site.

I hope you will stick around and browse, and that you find other tools to make taking CISA easier for you. Furthermore, I hope you will share with anyone you know who is taking CISA, or thinking about taking the CISA certification exam.

For Your Reference

* We take the median of local chapter dues ($40). The total membership fee presented here is $135 + $40 = $175. New members need to pay an extra $10 to join the membership.

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About the Author Stephanie

I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley) and the publisher of this and several accounting professional exam prep sites.

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  • Ken says:

    Today is 10/2602016. I was granted CISM Oct 2015, and and CISA this month and have registered for CRISC.
    To get me here, ISACA has collected the following but I don’t know what everything is for.
    Feb. 2015: $170
    Mar. 2015: $490
    Jul 2015: $440
    Aug 2015: $50
    May 2016: $45
    Sep: 2016 $855 + $50.

    ISACA shows I owe another $45 to renew CISA already +another $45 to renew CISM. If I pass CRISC, I guess i’m supposed to pay another $50 to apply and then annual renewal for all three + membership + local chapter $135 dues.

    I just want the letters behind my name and to maintain 8570 or whatever it’s called now. I never imagined how much money ISACA would take. And continue to take.

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Ken, thanks for sharing. I can’t figure it out either… it would be great if you can find out the nature of the bigger items — v helpful info to alert the readers!

  • RONO CHERUIYOT JACKSON says:

    Kindly advice on the added advantages of completing CPA and having a degree on Accounting and Finance.

  • Khanya says:

    Good day

    If I want to write in the September period will I get an opportunity to access the early registration discount that the June exam takers get? or is there a way to register now and only have my first attempt in September. I want the early registration discount but I don’t want to write in June, its too soon 🙁

  • Tendy says:

    good day
    there is no Zimbabwe on the Chapters. so is it possible to register under the South African Chapter??

    thank you

  • harry says:

    Dear Stephanie

    Just after completed CIA exams, now I am preparing for CISA exam to have an exam in November or December this year. I just joined a member of ISACA by paying the member fee, by which we can expect a discount on exam fee, but it is not clear for me how much we can get a discount on the early exam registration …. just I found on the ISACA website such discount for Yr2016, but not for Yr2017, can you advise me whether they still have early exam registration discount ?

    Thank you !

  • Cristi says:

    Hello,

    If I register as ISACA member during this period(1 June – 31 July), am I entitled for full rights, especially in what regards the exam registration(for current exam registration period ending on 30 September) and preparation materials discounts(CISA) ?

    Thanks,

    Cristi,

  • Sine says:

    Hi Guys…I have been trying to get the cisa exam early bird deadline registration for the august/september period, but there is nothing on the ISACA website and another thing is that I heard that there was discount they ( repeaters who wrote in June 2016 preparing for September 2016) normally received in previous years, is that still applicable in 2017?

    Thanks

  • malixole says:

    Hi Guys

    I want write CISA exams now in November- December period 2017, I see there is an exam amount of 760 for non-members, does it include the study material required to the exam? is there a special price for this period of the year or it only applies in january

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Malixole,
      I wish I could answer this question but I am still trying to figure it out… the CISA info isn’t as clear as before. You might want to call them up directly. Regards, Stephanie

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