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CCSK vs. CSSP: Which Cloud Security Certification Should You Learn First?

The differentiation between the two industry’s highest view Cloud Security Certifications, CCSK, and CCSP. Hopefully, after reading, you will know which certification will better fit your professional goals.

As a large amount of data, applications, and workloads increasingly move to the cloud, and expertise in this area has never been more worthwhile. Among IT’s highest priorities when it begins to cloud adoption is security. And cloud security specialists are finding themselves in high demand today.

Two of the industry’s most highly respected cloud security credentials are the (ISC)² CCSP and the CCSK from Cloud Security Alliance (CSA). Both offer comprehensive education on cloud security fundamentals, but there are key differences.

CCSK vs. CCSP: Here’s a Breakdown

(ISC)² Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

The CCSP is for IT and information security officers attempting to prove their understanding of cybersecurity and securing critical assets in the cloud. It shows you have advanced technical skills and knowledge to design, manage, and secure data, applications, and infrastructure in the cloud.

  • Cost: $599
  • Number of Questions: 125 multiple-choice items
  • Time to Finish: 180 Minutes
  • Exam Venue: (ISC)² Authorized Pearson VUE Testing Centers

Who Should Get (ISC)² CCSP Certification?

Roles typically require a CCSP includes:

Cloud Computing Analyst, Cloud Administrator, Cloud Architect, Cloud Engineer, Enterprise Architect, Security Administrator, Security Architect, and Systems Engineer.

Other jobs that also utilize the skills and education this CCSP certification provides involve Chief Information Security Officer, Information Security Analyst, Cybersecurity Specialist, Information Security Network Specialist, Information Security Engineer, Cloud Specialist, and Cloud Information Security Specialist.

Kind of Experience Do You Required for CCSP Certification

To change for the CCSP, you must have a point of 5 years of combined paid work experience in information technology, of which three years must be in data security and one year in 1 or more of the six domains of the CCSP CBK.

A candidate who does not yet have the needed experience to become a CCSP may become an Associate of (ISC)² after successfully passing the CCSP exam. The Associate of (ISC)² will have six years to earn the experience needed for CCSP certification.

Other Factors to Consider

The CCSP certification also knows the value of CCSK. It has a provision that CCSK can be changed for one year of experience in one of the six areas of the CCSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK).


CCSP is for the experienced security professional and getting it signals a senior-level understanding of and experience with cloud and traditional information security. Candidates who attempt the CCSP have often established cybersecurity professionals who want to show advanced knowledge of both cloud and data center security theories.

CSA Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK)

  • Cost: $395
  • Number of questions: 60
  • Time to complete: 90 minutes
  • Exam venue: Open the book and taken online

Who Should Get Cloud Security Alliance CCSK Certification?

Roles that use the knowledge obtained in the CCSK cover Cloud Computing Analyst, Cloud Administrator, Cloud Architect, Cloud Engineer, Enterprise Architect, Security Administrator, Security Architect, and Systems Engineer.

Kind of Experience Do You Required for CCSK Certification

CCSK has no experience qualifications. The test asks participants to prove knowledge of three key documents: the CSA Guidance, the CSA Cloud Control Matrix, and the ENISA report.

Other factors to consider

One important distinction is that the CCSP is a certification, and the CCSK is a certificate.

The CCSK certification verifies a candidate’s knowledge, skills, and abilities, typically as framed by a job role. A certificate scope is narrower, and only gives proof of a training course completion.

A certification grants candidate access to a membership organization, and almost always requires an annual maintaining professional education (CPE) commitment to support the certification. But a certificate does not often associate one with any membership group, and the body of knowledge achieved does not grow or require a CPE.

Take Concluding Thoughts on CCSK vs. CCSP

The CCSP and CCSK credentials, in many forms, complement one another. Because the CCSP understands the value of CCSK and has a provision that CCSK can be changed for one year of experience, the CCSK is often viewed as a good start along the path to earning a CCSP later. CCSP truly demonstrates excellence and dedication to the discipline.

Achieving CCSP certification provides the combined advantage of membership in (ISC)², the world’s most significant nonprofit association of cybersecurity professionals. More than 140,000 members strong and growing, (ISC)² allows its member’s professional development courses through the Professional Development Institute (PDI); continuing vocational education through industry events such as the global Security Congress; technical webinars addressing areas of developing cybersecurity trends; and advantages such as Member Perks, the (ISC)² Community, and the InfoSecurity Professional magazine.

When determining which credentials to pursue, think about how they align with your quick and long-term professional goals.

While the latest version of the CCSP extends the discussion on strategic issues, it does not get into the same depth of tactical debate that is found in the CCSK. The program is written along the same lines as the CISSP, so coverage includes everything that an Information Security Professional should remember to secure an environment, extending from the physical design of a data center to cloud application security.

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