Top GRC Certifications for a career in data security

Payal Wadhwa

Payal Wadhwa

Apr 01, 2024

A career in Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) can be highly rewarding. This is a dynamic field which is financially lucrative with diverse opportunities for growth and an ability to impact and safeguard an organization’s assets and business reputation.

If you are intrigued by a career in GRC, graduate degrees in IT, computer science, and law can help you get a solid base and earn entry-level jobs. However, you need more than these to gain deeper exposure to GRC concepts and practices. 

Additionally, you might struggle in your mid-career years to connect the dots in the integrated GRC architecture, which is a prerequisite while seeking promotions or high ownership careers such as Director of Compliance, CISO, GRC. That’s where GRC certifications step in to prepare you for the next part of the journey.

Many of these certifications are globally accepted and considered a gold standard in cybersecurity. These can also fill the knowledge gaps and keep you updated with the latest industry trends to contribute your best efforts to the organization.

Read on to learn more about the top 9 certifications for GRC to enhance your skills.

What are GRC certifications?

GRC certifications are professional validations demonstrating an individual’s knowledge and skills in Governance, Risk, and Compliance. People who aim to kickstart their career in GRC or enhance their existing knowledge opt for various GRC certifications such as CRISC and CGEIT. 

GRC certifications help individuals learn about GRC strategies, governance structures, risk management, compliance monitoring and much more. These certifications can fetch you coveted jobs as a compliance officer, security specialist, and risk manager. 

Why are GRC certifications important?

GRC certifications are crucial to demonstrate one’s ability to incorporate effective GRC practices in the organization for better performance.  They formally recognize the candidate’s interest in advancing GRC skills and knowledge and enhancing their professional credibility.

Here are the benefits of GRC certification:

Demonstration of expertise

GRC certifications demonstrate that the individual has undergone the required training and examination and can guide the organization on GRC-related matters.

Career Advancement

GRC certifications can help you stand out in the job market and ensure professional growth. In case you’ve already plunged into the field, these certifications can boost your career and open doors for leadership positions and promotions.

Industry credibility

GRC certifications are a hallmark of credibility in the industry that enhances your reputation in the market. Organizations with GRC-certified professionals are, by default, assumed to uphold the highest standards of GRC practices.

Added value for the organization

GRC-certified professionals can apply the acquired knowledge and skills to enhance existing GRC policies or create new ones. They can help streamline GRC operations and enable well-informed decisions, ensuring continued improvement for the organization.

Top industry-recognized GRC Certifications

GRC certifications are issued by well-known professional organizations or certification bodies depending on region and industry. 

These are the top 7 GRC Certifications you can pursue for a promising career in the GRC space:

1. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)

Provided by ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association), CRISC is meant for professionals who deal with information systems risks. The certification program is usually pursued by IT, audit, risk, and cybersecurity professionals during their mid-senior stage. Once achieved, individuals can maintain the CRISC certification by following ISACA’s CPE (Continuing Professional Education) credit rules.

Focus:

To help individuals gain expertise in risk management and help businesses build a robust security posture. It covers topics such as IT risk assessments, risk response and reporting, corporate IT governance, etc.

Requirements:

  • A minimum cumulative experience of 3 years in at least 2 CRISC domain areas out of 4 (IT Risk Identification, IT Risk Assessment, Risk response and mitigation, Risk Control Monitoring and Reporting).
  • Of these 2 domains, at least one experience must be in domain 1 or 2.
  • The experience must be within 10 years of filling out the application.

Evaluation:

The exam consists of 150 questions across the 4 domains with the following weightage

  • Governance (26%)
  • IT Risk Assessment (20%)
  • Risk Response and Reporting (32%)
  • Information Security and Technology (22%)

Cost:

The certification costs  $575 for members and $760 for non-members.

Launch an automation-powered GRC Program

2. Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP)

CISSP is another widely recognized certification provided by ISC2 (International Information System Security Certification Consortium). The certification is pursued by cybersecurity professionals such as CISOs, security analysts and consultants. 

The certification is valid for 3 years, and individuals are required to earn CPE credits to renew it.

Focus:

To enable security professionals to build expertise in creating solid cybersecurity programs that lay the foundation of GRC initiatives. The certification covers topics such as security and risk management, asset security, security architecture, and software development security.

Requirements:

  • A minimum of 5 years cumulative experience (full-time or part-time) in 2 or more of 8 domains.
  • A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Computer Science, IT or any related field can substitute for one year of the required experience. An approved credential from ISC2 can compensate for one year of the mentioned experience.
  • The weightage for each domain is different such as 15% for Security and Risk Management and 11% for Software Development Security.

Evaluation:

  • The exam in Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) format is generally 4 hours long and available in English. From 15th April 2024, the exam will be 3 hours with 100-150 questions and will also be available in Spanish, German, Chinese and Japanese.
  • Other languages have linear exams which are of 6 hours and consist of 225 scored items. The passing grade is 700 out of 1000 points.

Cost:

The exam fee for CISSP is $749. Next, there are additional costs for training and study material. The course costs range from $300-$3200 depending on the candidate’s location.

3. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) is another globally recognized certification issued by ISACA for professionals who audit, control, monitor, or assess IT and business systems. It enables individuals to adopt a proactive approach while managing risks and staying compliant. 

Like CRISC, individuals can renew the CISA certification, once achieved, with 20 annual CPE credits and 120 CPEs over 3 years.

Focus:

To enable individuals to build expertise in planning, executing, and reporting an information system’s audit. 

It covers topics such as Governance and Management of Information Technology, Protection of Information assets, Information Systems Operations, Business Resilience.

Requirements:

  • A minimum experience of 5 years in professional information systems auditing, control, or security management described by ISACA as CISA practice areas.
  • The experience must be within 10 years preceding the date of application

Evaluation:

The exam consists of 150 questions across 5 job practice areas or domains- Information System Auditing Process (18%), Governance and Management of IT (18%), Information Systems Acquisition, Development and Implementation (12%), Information Systems Operations and Business Resilience (26%) and Protection of Information Assets (26%).

Cost:

The certification costs $575 for members and $760 for non-members.

4. Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT)

Offered by ISACA, CGEIT is meant for individuals who manage advisory for IT enterprises or are interested in enterprise IT governance. It suits IT managers, IT consultants, business leaders, compliance professionals, or any governance-related field.

The renewal requirements for CGEIT certification are the same as other ISACA certifications and involve earning CPE credits.

Focus:

To enable individuals to upskill their knowledge of enterprise IT governance principles and align them with the organizational objectives. It covers topics such as IT resources, risk optimization, and more.

Requirements:

  • At least 5 years of experience in an advisory/assurance role or oversight or IT governance-related field.
  • The cumulative work experience must be across 3 out of 4 domains with a minimum experience of 1 year in domain 1.
  • The experience must be within 10 years preceding the date of application.

Evaluation:

The exam has 150 questions across 5 domains: Governance of Enterprise IT (40%), IT Resources (15%), Benefits Realization (26%), and Risk Optimization (19%).

Cost:

The CGEIT certification, like other ISACA certifications costs $575 for members and $760 for non-members.

5. GRC Professional (GRCP)

GRCP is issued by OCEG (Open Compliance and Ethics Group) and demonstrates an individual’s understanding of GRC. It can be pursued by individuals at various stages of their careers, whether they are starting in an auditing role or are already GRC practitioners. Candidates can sign up for a Unified Certification Maintenance program to maintain their GRCP certification.

Focus:

To enable an individual to integrate GRC operations with other business operations and advice on strategic matters. It covers topics such as GRC practices, risk management, performance management, etc.

Requirements:

There are no specific educational or experience requirements. The certification is suitable for anyone working in/aiming to work in governance, strategy, security, or related fields. 

Evaluation:

The exam is primarily for 2 hours with 100 questions; you must get at least 70 questions right. It is an open-book exam where candidates can use Google or other resources for the answers.

Cost:

The GRCP certification exam costs $575. Other costs can include preparation costs. You can purchase the all-access pass worth $499/year from OCEG to access study material.

6. Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA)

CRMA is offered by IIA (Institute of Internal Auditors) and validates an individual’s skill set in ensuring effective risk management and governance. CRMA’s offer insights to audit committees and leadership to enable better decisions. To renew the CRMA certification, candidates must complete 20 hours of continuing professional education.

Focus:

To equip individuals with the knowledge of risk management processes and frameworks. It covers topics such as internal audit roles and responsibilities and risk management governance. 

Requirements:

Candidates must hold an active CIA (Certified Internal Auditor designation) to participate in the program. The program window is 2 years, and candidates need to complete 5 years of internal audit/risk management experience before the program window ends.

Evaluation:

The exam contains 125 questions to be completed in 150 minutes. It has 3 sections- internal audit roles and responsibilities (20%), risk management governance (25%) and risk management assurance (55%). 

Cost:

The current costs of CRMA certification are $95 (members) and $210 (non-members) for application and $445 (members) and $580 (non-members) for exam fees. With effect from 1 July 2024 the costs will increase to $100 (members) and $210 (non-members) for application and $465 (members) and $610 (non-members) for exam fees.

7. Project Management Institute’s Risk Management Professional Certification (PMI-RMP)

PMI-RMP is tailored for candidates interested in project manager jobs or experience in risk management. It is ideal for both entry-level and seasoned professionals in risk management domains.

Just like CPE in ISACA certifications, individuals must earn and report certain PDUs (Professional Development Units) to renew the RMP certification.

Focus:

To enable professionals to pinpoint potential risks, mitigate cyber threats, capitalize on opportunities, and optimize resources. It covers topics such as risk strategy and planning, risk identification, risk analysis, etc.

Requirements:

There are 3 different eligibility criteria for the certification, and the applicants must satisfy at least one of these:

  • Secondary diploma with 36 months of professional experience in project risk management and 40 contact hours of formal education in any specialized area of risk management
  • Four-year degree with a minimum of 24 months of professional experience in project risk management and 30 contact hours of formal education in any specialized area of risk management
  • Bachelor’s or master’s degree from GAC (Global Accreditation Center) accredited program with 12 months of professional experience in project risk management and 30 contact hours of formal education in any specialized area of risk management.

The cumulative experience must be within 5 years preceding the date of application.

Evaluation:

The PMI-RMP certification exam is a multiple-choice exam of 2.5 hours with 115 questions across 5 domains- Risk strategy and planning (22%), Risk identification (23%), Risk Analysis (23%), Risk Response (13%), Monitor and close risks (19%).

Cost:

The exam cost of PMI-RMP is $520 for members and $670 for non-members. Then there can be training costs ranging from $1700-$2000.

Upskill yourself with certifications and tools

Today’s job market is highly competitive, and employers will prefer to choose people with certifications and skills that show they are ‘job ready’. So, if you are a GRC professional or an aspiring one, you should add a GRC certification to your kitty to bolster your resume. 

The future of GRC however is automation with capabilities like continuous monitoring and continuous compliance. Tools like Sprinto will be your enabler in this journey with their adaptive automation capabilities to streamline GRC operations. Sprinto integrates seamlessly with your tech stack and helps build granular visibility across risks and internal controls with 24/7 monitoring. The next-gen GRC platform is purpose-built for GRC companies to seamlessly align with business and security requirements and deliver maximum output.

Want to see Sprinto in action? Talk to an expert today and unlock the potential of smart automation.

FAQs

How to prepare for the GRC Certification exam?

The certification bodies provide study material resources, online and offline classes, and training courses. There are also some other credible providers for the same. Next, you can take practice or mock tests and get familiar with the exam pattern.

Do I need to renew the GRC certification?

GRC certifications need to be renewed annually or after a few years, and the renewal requirements vary based on the certification and the issuing body. Most require Continuing Program Education (CPE) credits or Professional Development units.

Are GRC certifications recognized globally?

Yes, certifications like CRISC, CISA, CGEIT, GRCP, and CISSP are globally recognized GRC certifications because of the comprehensive coverage and stringent standards of the certification bodies.

Payal Wadhwa

Payal Wadhwa

Payal is your friendly neighborhood compliance whiz! She turns perplexing compliance lingo into actionable advice about keeping your digital business safe and savvy. When she isn’t saving virtual worlds, she’s penning down poetic musings or lighting up local open mics. Cyber savvy by day, poet by night!

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