Once you discover how beneficial the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification can be to your career, you’ll know that it is worth however much you’ll spend earning it. But you’ll probably still wonder exactly how much the CISA certification costs. You’ll also want to know what the certification costs cover. For example, earning the CISA involves passing the CISA exam, and, consequently, paying the CISA exam fees. So, discovering each CISA certification cost and CISA exam fee is essential for embarking on your CISA journey. After all, you have to prepare your wallet to pay the CISA fees, just as you must prepare your mind to pass the CISA exam. Thankfully, you can use this information to see what the cost of CISA really is.
To earn the CISA certification, you need to know what you’ll pay for and when you’ll pay for it. And the sooner you know this information, the better, as then you can prepare for each expense and not miss a payment deadline. So, pay attention to and plan for each of these items in the CISA fee structure.
You don’t need to be a member of ISACA to take the CISA exam, but you can get a discount on CISA exam fees if you are a member. You can also receive access to professional networking, volunteer opportunities, online forums, professional and industry advocacy, and more. Finally, you can even enjoy free webinars, free audit programs, and free CPE. So, if you want to be a CISA, you’ll also benefit from being an ISACA member.
But of course, you’ll have to pay for this membership. Specifically, you’ll have to pay the new member fee, international dues, and local chapter dues. The membership types are as follows:
And the amounts of these fees are:
|New Membership Fee|
$10 if paid online; $30 if paid via mail or fax
While you don’t have to pay for ISACA membership, you do have to pay for the CISA exam. Though the CISA exam fees are not cheap, they are essential for ensuring that candidates show up for the test and that the organizations involved can cover expenses such as testing center usage, exam proctors, and the scoring process.
These exam fees are non-refundable and non-transferrable. Furthermore, when you register for the exam, you will begin your exam eligibility period of 12 months (365 days). If you do not schedule and take the exam during this time, you will forfeit your exam fees.
Once you have passed the CISA exam and acquired the relevant full-time work experience, you can submit the CISA certification application and pay the application processing fee at the same time. The application processing fee is $50 for both ISACA members and non-members.
After you have obtained the CISA certification, you must follow the steps to maintain it. These steps including paying the CISA maintenance fee and reporting CPE hours annually. The annual maintenance fee is as follows:
|Certification Maintenance Fee||Member||Non-Member|
The CISA exam fee paid at the registration does not include any study materials. Therefore, the study materials cost anywhere from $40 for a study guide to $300+ for the official CISA review manual and question database. You can learn more about CISA review courses in my comparison of some of the best options.
So, what will your CISA certification costs be? You can see the total cost for members and non-members in this table.
|Membership fee (median)*||$175||–|
|Mail-in application charge||$75||$75|
|Certificate application fee||$50||$50|
|Certificate maintenance fee||$45||$85|
* We took 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 for membership.
With only one exam part and relatively less expensive review materials, your CISA investment is likely the most affordable of the other accounting certifications you can earn. You can see how much the process of passing a few other accounting certification exams costs in this table.
|Exam fees only||Exam fees + review course|
Clearly, taking the CISA exam is cheaper once you factor the price of a great review course into the exam fees as well.
Taking the CPA Exam will costs at least $1,000 before you purchase a CPA review course. So, with the CISA exam costs sitting at about $1500, the CPA Exam is cheaper to start, but the price of a review course will definitely double your investment.
The cost of the CIA exam is also around $1,000 when not including the cost of a CIA review course. So, the CIA exam is cheaper than CISA before you factor in the expense of review course materials. But once you pay for the course you’ll need to pass the CIA exam, you’ve spent more than you would have on the CISA exam.
Finally, we have CFA exam fees at $3,000, again, before the purchase of a CFA review course. As you can see, the CFA exam is more expensive than the CISA at each stage in the preparation process.
All this being said, choosing the best accounting certification for you is not about how much you must pay to pass the exam. These certifications enable you to specialize in different areas of accounting and hold different roles. Therefore, you need to determine which certification will enable you to meet your career goals. You may end up spending a bit more depending on the certification you choose, but if it’s the one that leads you down the career path of your dreams, then you’ve chosen the best certification for you. And in this case, the money you spend is completely worth it.
If the fact that the CISA may be the perfect certification for you isn’t relieving your stress about the CISA exam costs, then you should consider the CISA breakeven rate. The average salary range for a professional holding the CISA certification ranges from approximately $52,459 to $122,326. So, while the CISA may cost you up to $1,600 in fees as well as the cost of study materials on top of that, you will still recoup those costs in your first year of working as a certified CISA.
What’s more, anytime you consider earning a certification, you have to know that you are making an investment in your career and, consequently, your future as well. You can’t get a top-level job in information systems auditing without the CISA. And if you’ve already worked several years in the industry, earning the CISA won’t be that much more work for you, as the CISA experience requirement is 5 years of experience in information systems auditing, control or security. Additionally, you have 10 years before you apply or 5 years after you pass the exam to meet the experience requirement, so you have plenty of time.
And if you were planning on putting this amount of time into information systems auditing anyway, then getting the CISA certification allows you to definitively prove your expertise in the field. You’ll have what it takes to pass the exam and secure the certification, so you shouldn’t let the CISA exam fees scare you away from this very beneficial designation.
As you may know, the CISA certification is available in other countries as well. It is growing internationally, especially in India. In fact, India is a popular testing location for the CISA exam. What’s more, the CISA cost in India will be the same as CISA costs elsewhere. So, the more important thing to know about earning the CISA in India is that you will still have to take the exam in English. Therefore, if English is not your first language, you must make developing your ability to read and write in English a part of your CISA exam prep.
Furthermore, most of CISA exam prep courses are in English as well. So, getting the best CISA review course for you will help you improve your English and your understanding of the exam content.
At the end of the day, if you’re going to take the CISA exam, you’re going to have to pay for it. All certification exams have exam fees, registration fees, etc. But these fees do not have to push the CISA certification out of reach. Instead, when you use this information about each fee you’ll have to pay to create your CISA budget and save your money, you can be completely prepared to handle this part of the CISA certification process. You can also cut your CISA costs by using my CISA review course discounts to save big on your CISA exam prep.
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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