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Steps to Becoming A CISO: A Definite Guide to Scale UP the Enterprise Security Ladder

A CISO, Chief Information Security Officer is a moderately new job profile, but one that’s expanding every day. Organizations are starting to acknowledge the remarkable task that is managing a company’s digital security. They are referring these high-level executive officers to manage all aspects of the business, concerning information security.

What is the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)?

As the world becomes more and more dependent on digital technology, an organization’s data and information demand new means of protection and security against the wicked hacker. With the inception of e-commerce, users have become more conscious of the risks of inserting their financial information “out there,” and are even more demanding than organizations retain their business and personal data secure; in some businesses, information security is imposed by law (HIPAA, GDPR, etc.). As databases replace filing cabinets throughout the world, organizations are restoring physical barriers and keys with digital ones.

The CISO is a comparatively new position, emerges as a result of the growing importance of cybersecurity requirements. Previously, cybersecurity has fallen under the category of the Information Technology field and has been categorized among department heads and sections within the organization — with the premise that each group learns best how to defend the data within their province of responsibility. As digital information replaces physical files, and organizations depend even more on robust cybersecurity, the role of chief information security usually becomes more focused. CISOs managing information security extends a level of accountability not earlier possible and improves the entire standard of an organization’s security practices.

The CISO is an expansion of that role: an executive team member-directed completely on information security, promoting information security to the equivalent extent as other essential business lanes (joining the ranks of the Chief Executive Offers, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Technical Officer, and other Senior Management (C-suite) positions that portray an organizations’ entire investment in that field of expertise). The CISO may report to the CTO, the CEO, or a company’s board of directors.

What Does a CISO Do?

The role of a Chief Security Officer is usually outlined with four core functions:

  • Protect, Defend, Shield, and Prevent
  • Detect, Monitor, and Hunt
  • The Response, Sustain and Recover
  • Manage, Govern, Comply, Educate, and Manage Risk

The CISO formulates strategies, methods, and practices and employs and trains team members to ensure that an organization is completely secured from security threats. The CISO is responsible for ensuring that strategies and staff are expertly observing everyday operations, proactively hunting suspicious behavior, and taking steps to react and overcome from any attacks.

Success and Leadership in Corporate IT Security with CCISO

The endowment of a CISO can be a vital step for an organization, and one that proves to clients, stockholders, and other audience a definite promise to information security. Often this takes place a publicly visible violation of security. Organizations in the sphere of finance, government, medicine, and pharmaceuticals are especially security-sensitive and are more likely to focus on safety by appointing a CISO. But even small scale businesses and those in other fields may avail of hiring CISO presently, to build a stable security infrastructure as they expand. As data theft and “hacked” systems make titles, organizations start to shift budget and resources to this sensible and important area. Going ahead, forecasters anticipate information security jobs to progress in both pay and availability.

CISO Salary

The average salary that chief information security officers are receiving from approximately $105,000 to about $225,000 per year, with an average annual salary of $160,000. Bonuses, commissions, and co-participation can sum as much as $350,000 per year.

These moderately soaring salaries describe the high level of this position, and the significant education and experience needed to get there. Below we’ll discuss how to become a CISO, comprising education necessities, work experience, and skills. If you are just beginning your career in information security, this will help you outline the next 5-7 years, qualifying you to acquire the skills and expertise needed to be eligible for this crucial information security role.

If you are further moving in your career, you may notice that much of your prior experience will help you in achieving your aim of becoming a skilled CISO; the information further away can help you address the gaps in your experience, skills, or education.

Steps to Becoming A CISO (Chief Information Security Officer)

Acquire Needed Experience

The routes to becoming a Chief Information Security Officer can differ hugely, but they usually comprised of robust IT backgrounds, coding experience, and management background. This experience is often gathered in the workplace, as an IT engineer, for instance, who takes a special concern in the security perspectives of his job. If you’re about to start your career and have your objectives set on getting that CISO title, you would do well to start as a Network, Systems, or Security Administrator.

It would be best if you then geared towards climbing “up the ladder” toward higher-level and more distinguished IT positions, with precise emphasis on information security. Such jobs may involve Security Analyst or Security Engineer, moving up to similar roles that incorporate “Manager,” “Lead,” Director,” or “VP” in their names. All in all, you are expected to have 7 to 12 years of increasingly constrained experience before you can apply to be a CISO.

Education Requirements

There are several paths professionals might exert towards the aim of being a CISO. As this designation demands skills in both technology and business, many CISOs have an MBA degree. A Master of Business Administration has the advantage of solid business judgment, something that will assist the CISO well in working with the other managers on a team, leading a team, and keeping a persistent security strategy that promotes entire business goals. On the contrary, technical and security expertise are amazingly significant in this designation. So many CISOs possesses a Master of Science degrees in technical fields comprising Information Systems & Technology, Cybersecurity, and Information Technology & Management.

CISO Skills

To execute the high-level responsibilities of a CISO, a professional must be an ambitious person, capable of taking the initiative and carrying out strategy from the highest level. Critical soft skills include written and spoken communication, critical thinking skills to identify problems, and determine the best course of action in a given situation; powerful interpersonal, administration, and leadership skills; and organizational and decisive planning skills.

Read: Top 7 Qualities of EC-Council CCISO: Certified Chief Information Security Officer

Needless to say, hard skills are also an indispensable aspect of a CISO’s everyday responsibilities. This is where the education and work experience listed above come in. A CISO must retain a robust understanding of information security, as well as best practices and latest trends in the field.

The 5 Defining Skills of a CISO:

  1. They Know the Business Mission and Line up Security with Business Objectives
  2. They Must Own Executive Presence and the Head to Influence the Board
  3. They Must Be Committed to TheirSelf-Development and  Education and
  4. They Must Possess Outstanding Management Skills
  5. They Must Retain Cybersecurity Ethics in the First Row

CISO Certifications

Along with the college degrees, you may find it beneficial to earn specialized IT certifications. These certifications can give you an advantage over the competition and thoroughly equips you with the skills needed for continued success in the information security field. In the majority of cases, further training or education is not expected for these IT certifications; rather, you will practice the work experience and knowledge earned in preparation for becoming a CISO to sit for an examination and, upon passing, obtain your certification. Each certification has its prerequisites (for instance, five years of respective work experience and a bachelor’s degree) that must be satisfied to be eligible for the exam, so this is most likely something you will chase later in your career, as a peak of your work and education, to help you progress from a lower-level managerial information security position to that of a CISO, Chief Information Security Officer.

Here are some of the top-rated certifications in the information security field:

EC-Council Certification, EC-Council Certified Chief Information Security Officer (CCISO), CCISO Certification Mock Test, EC-Council CCISO Certification, CCISO Practice Test, CCISO Study Guide, 712-50 CCISO, 712-50 Online Test, 712-50 Questions, 712-50 Quiz, 712-50, EC-Council 712-50 Question Bank
CCISO Certification: Career Path Leading to Chief Information Security Officer Role


With many professionals seeking for how to become a CISO, this is unquestionably a complicated career to enter. And while those with experience in the field agree that the role will never be consistent, one thing is apparent: the position of a CISO is worthy and can be extremely rewarding.

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