SSCP Certification: Exam Cost, Salary, and Jobs in 2022


Systems Security Certified Practitioner (referred to simply as SSCP) is a technical certificate or credential from the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium or (ISC)2, which shows that a candidate has skills in implementing, managing, and maintaining information security to safeguard IT infrastructure. This article explains how to obtain the certification, what topics to study, the costs involved, and the salary you can expect.

What Is An SSCP Certification?

Systems Security Certified Practitioner (or SSCP) is a technical certificate or credential from the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium or (ISC)2, which shows that a candidate has skills in implementing, managing, and maintaining information security to safeguard IT infrastructure.

The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium created, maintains, and oversees the Systems Security Certification Practitioner (SSCP) certification. It is for people who are just starting in cybersecurity. This certification proves that a person has the skills and knowledge to manage IT infrastructures according to the security rules, procedures, and policies in place to protect data privacy, integrity, and availability.

Holders of an SSCP certification have the in-depth knowledge and the necessary skills to administer, implement and monitor security for IT infrastructures and their ability to recommend and employ best practices.

How to gain an SSCP certification

There are six steps to gaining becoming SSCP-certified as per (ISC)2 :

  • Prepare for the SSCP exam: Candidates can choose to self-study for the SSCP exam or enroll in training courses from certified vendors or third-party vendors. 
  • Meet the requirements to take the exam: To get the SSCP certification, candidates must have worked for at least a year in one or more of the exam domains and been paid for it. Whether paid or not, part-time jobs and internships also count as work experience. One can also use a bachelor’s or master’s degree in cybersecurity, computer science, systems engineering, IT, management of information systems, or computer engineering to meet the work experience requirement.
  • Take and pass the certification exam: The SSCP exam is set in a multiple-choice format where candidates must score 700 out of the 1000 points available to pass the exam. Effective from the 1st of November 2022, the SSCP exam is set to change from 125 questions to 150 questions. The exam length is also set to increase from 3 to 4 hours. Additionally, the SSCP exam is set to be available in 4 additional languages ( Chinese, German, Korean, and Spanish) from the current 2 (English and Japanese). 

The SSCP exam is done in Pearson VUE testing centers. Candidates without the required work experience may pass the SSCP exam and become associates of (ISC)2. They will then have to earn the one-year experience needed within two years.

  • Complete the endorsement process: After passing the SSCP exam, candidates have nine months to submit an online application approved and digitally signed by another (ISC)2 certified expert. The (ISC)2 can also vouch for the same.
  • Agree to the code of ethics: Before becoming SSCP-certified, candidates must acknowledge that they will abide by the four canons of ethical practice. They must sign an agreement to develop and safeguard the profession and provide principals with diligent and competent service. They must also agree that they will behave in an honorable, honest, just, responsible, and lawful manner to safeguard society, the common good, the required trust and confidence of the public, and the infrastructure.
  • Maintaining certification: Individuals must pay an annual maintenance fee of $125 to maintain certification. They must abide by the (ISC)2 code of ethics and earn and report a minimum of 60 continuing professional education credits within the three-year certification cycle.

See More: How To Prepare For the CCNA Certification Exam

Who should pursue an SSCP certification?

Information technology professionals providing hands-on IT infrastructure security for their organizations should pursue an SSCP certification. These professionals include system administrators, security analysts, systems engineers, and database managers.

SSCP Certification Course Curriculum

The SSCP certification course curriculum is currently organized into seven domains covering various areas of cybersecurity. Each of the seven domains accounts for a weighted 14 to 16% percentage score in the SSCP examination. The weights assigned to each area indicate the relative significance of various aspects of cybersecurity, such as the protection of networks and communications and the management of security operations and administration.

The SSCP certification consists of seven different domains, which are as follows:

1. Security operations and administration

This domain covers 16% of the SSCP examination. Candidates learn the basic code of ethics concepts such as organizational and the (ISC)2 codes of ethics. They also learn security concepts such as confidentiality, integrity, availability, and privacy. Further, they must know how to document and maintain operational security controls such as deterrent, preventative, detective, corrective, and compensating controls.

Another topic covered in this domain is the asset management lifecycle of hardware, software, and data. They also learn to participate in the change of management lifecycles, doing security impact analysis and configuration management. Candidates should know how to implement security awareness training – for example, to protect against social engineering and phishing attacks. 

2. Access controls

In an organization, administrators and system analysts use access controls to grant or restrict access to secure the contents of a computer system. The access controls domain covers 15% of the examination. Candidates are instructed on the various techniques they can use to implement and maintain authentication. These techniques include single or multi-factor authentication, device authentication, single sign-on, and federated access. They also learn about network trust relationships between users and organizations and the various ways to support internetwork trust architectures. 

Identity management – and its multiple steps like proofing, provisioning, de-provisioning, maintenance, entitlement, authorization, identity, and access management systems – is also part of the access controls domain. Additionally, candidates learn techniques that they can apply to restrict unauthorized access. This covers mandatory and discretionary access controls, role-based access control, rule-based controls, etc.

3. Risk identification, monitoring, and analysis

This domain counts for 15% of the SSCP examination. In this domain, candidates will learn about the systematic assessment techniques used to identify and monitor cyber threats and the processes used in managing risk. These processes include understanding concepts such as threat modeling, reporting, threat intelligence, and standard vulnerability scoring systems, among other things.

Candidates must participate in security assessment and vulnerability management activities as part of this domain. Additionally, they must understand how to run security platforms via the management of logs, the aggregation of records, and the correlation of events. They should also know about monitoring methods like security baselining and anomalies, event data analysis, and documenting findings. Legal and regulatory concerns (such as jurisdiction and limitations) are also within the ambit of this curriculum domain.

4. Incident response and recovery

This domain, covering 14% of the exam, includes incident handling techniques, such as reporting, escalating, and digital forensics. As specified by the International Organization for Standardization, candidates will understand the processes of the incident response lifecycle (ISO). These steps include detection, containment, eradication, recovery, and implementation of countermeasures. 

Candidates also learn concepts on supporting digital forensic investigations. This incorporates legal and ethical concepts as well as numerous evidence-handling processes. Moreover, applicants must know about disaster recovery and business continuity planning. They should be able to use these concepts to mitigate damage, restore operations, and avoid major organizational interruptions through testing and drills.

5. Cryptography

Cryptography is worth 9% of the SSCP exam. In this domain, candidates learn about confidentiality, integrity, authenticity, and ways to achieve them using cryptographic techniques. Additionally, they must study data sensitivity and regulatory best practices, such as ISO and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCIDSS).

Further, candidates will be tested on the fundamental cryptography concepts and where to apply them. Some concepts they will be tested on include hashing, salting, non-repudiation, the strength of encryption algorithms and keys, and countermeasures to prevent unauthorized access.

The implementation of secure protocols is also part of this domain. Accordingly, candidates will learn to use cryptographic protocols such as Transport Layer Security (TLS) to protect communications from eavesdropping and tampering. They also learn concepts on supporting public key infrastructure systems.

See More: Cyber Security Degrees: Types, Comparisons, and Best Practices for Selection

6. Network and communications security

This subject represents 16% of the exam syllabus. In this section, candidates must demonstrate an understanding of fundamental networking concepts, such as network topologies, peer-to-peer connections, relationship management of clients and servers, categories of data transmission, open systems connectivity, and Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) modeling techniques. They comprehensively understand numerous network threats, like Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) and Domain Name System (DNS) poisoning.

Furthermore, applicants are instructed in the operation and configuration of network-based security devices. They will know how to configure firewalls, proxies, routers, switches, intrusion detection systems, and traffic-shaping devices. They will also learn to secure wireless communications through authentication and encryption protocols such as Wi-Fi-protected access.

7. Systems and application security

This domain is worth 15% of the SSCP examination. Candidates should be able to identify and analyze malicious code and activities in this domain. Attacks like rootkits, spyware, and backdoors, malicious activities such as insider threats, zero-day exploits, and web-based attacks, and user behavior analytics tools such as artificial intelligence are some of the things candidates should learn.

They must know how to implement and operate endpoint device security. They should also learn how to manage mobile devices through provisioning techniques, containerization, and mobile application management.

Additionally, cloud security – as well as deployment models, service models, virtualization, data storage, processing and transmission, and legal and regulatory concerns – are part of this curriculum domain. Candidates should have the skills to operate and maintain secure virtual environments. These virtual environments include hypervisors, shared storage, etc.

See More: Top 10 Masters in Cybersecurity Programs in 2022

SSCP Certification Cost

The following are the costs associated with the SSCP certification; 

  • SSCP exam cost: The SSCP exam fee is $249. However, some vendors charge an extra fee to cater for the price they may accrue with exam protocols, the scoring process, and the venue cost. Candidates looking to reschedule their exams will pay a $50 fee, while those looking to cancel the exam will pay a $100. 
  • SSCP certification cost: Successful candidates are charged a one-time fee of $125 upon receiving the certificate.
  •  Annual maintenance fee: (ISC)2 certified members with the SSCP certification must pay a yearly maintenance fee of $125. These fees are used by (ISC)2 to support the costs of maintaining the certifications and related support systems. Associates of (ISC)2 pay a fee of $50.
  • Miscellaneous SSCP certification costs: There are a lot of free study materials for candidates to choose from if they prefer to study at a self-paced rate. Candidates can choose to undergo a training course from accredited vendors. For instance, the Learning Tree globally accredited course charges up to $3,695. Third-party vendors such as Udemy and Coursera have cheaper courses charging from $10 to $1200.

See More: Top 10 Online Cybersecurity Courses and Certifications in 2022

SSCP Salary 2022

Holders of an SSCP have a competitive edge over their peers, with employers preferring to hire certified professionals to guarantee information security in their organization. The salary of SSCP holders varies greatly depending on location, career pathway, and degree type. According to Payscale (last updated on 25.10.22), SSCP professionals earn an annual average salary of $ 78,000.

The salary of SSCP certificate holders varies depending on the city or country. SSCP professionals from developed countries earned more than their counterparts. SSCP professionals working in New York earned the highest annual salary range of $70,000 to $114,000. Those working in Washington made the least, with a yearly salary range of $55,463 to $98,266.

The type of degree an SSCP professional receives also affects their salaries. For instance, those with a Bachelor of Science earn an annual salary range of $51,580 to $92,985, those with a degree in Associate of Applied Science earn $45,000 to $71,228, those with a Bachelor of Business Administration earn $59,495 to $77,296, those with a Bachelor of Arts earn $49,579 to $95,931 and those with a Master of Science earn $51,250 to $87,750.

The career pathway of SSCP professionals also affects their salary. For instance, information security engineers earn an average annual wage of $103,000, security engineers earn $85,269, information security analysts earn $67,540, cybersecurity analysts earn $64,795, security consultants earn $78,198, and systems administrators earn $71,216.

Interestingly, the gender pay gap exists for SSCP certification holders. Females with an SSCP certification regularly earn lower salaries than their male counterparts for the same job position and location. The average female SSCP holder receives annual compensation of $30,603 to $ 76,449, while the average male SSCP holder receives $49,647 to $90,297.

See More: Top 10 Online Cybersecurity Courses and Certifications in 2022

SSCP Jobs In 2022 

The following are the top jobs one can get with an SSCP certification:

1. Network security engineer

To ensure confidentiality and information security, network security engineers are tasked with protecting an organization’s system from cyber threats such as malware, bugs, and hacking attempts. They continuously monitor the network for security breaches. They also perform simulations to identify vulnerabilities in the network and develop security protocols to avoid potential threats. A Systems Security Certification Practitioner (SSCP) certification familiarizes them with network security testing and implementation aspects to augment their technical capabilities.

These professionals have the necessary knowledge and skills that they implement to protect sensitive information. These skills include installing firewalls, virtual private networks, data encryption programs, and web application security programs. They earn an annual average salary of $85,000.

2. Systems administrator

System administrators maintain an organization’s policies to ensure the integrity of their network and computer systems. They are responsible for installing, configuring, and updating software, hardware, and networks. They monitor system performance and troubleshoot issues and outages that arise. Another part of their job role is ensuring the security and efficiency of IT infrastructure. 

System administrators must have proven skills in working with databases, patch management, and local and wide area networks. They should be familiar with various operating systems and platforms and have in-depth knowledge of system security. An SSCP certification and its requisite courses will provide candidates with these skills and know-how. Systems administrators earn an annual average salary of $71,216. 

3. Information security engineer

Information security engineers are accountable for the security of an organization’s computer systems and networks. Implementing security measures to safeguard sensitive information data from cyber attacks is also part of the infosec engineers’ daily duties. They work with the information and security team to support security tools and technologies such as firewalls and proxy servers. While infosec engineers need different degrees, an SSCP certification can boost career opportunities.

These professionals identify, investigate, and respond to information security alerts. They actively monitor for threats in the computer systems and networks. Information security engineers have in-depth knowledge and skills in keeping up to date with the latest malware threats. They understand how to use advanced tools to detect and thwart malware attacks. The annual average salary for this role is $103,000.

4. Security analyst

Security analysts protect computer networks in an organization from cyber attacks, create policies and practices, and document security breaches. They collaborate with IT security teams to test networks and look for vulnerabilities and then develop countermeasures for these threats. These analysts participate in the process of creating a disaster recovery plan for the organization to follow in an emergency. 

Security analysts must demonstrate strong analytical expertise and show compliance with regulations. They should also possess up-to-date security trends and best practices. An SSCP certification course ensures that security analysts have the latest skills and understanding of cyber threats. The annual average salary for this job is $64,795. 


As enterprise cybersecurity concerns increase, it is vital to protect IT infrastructure and data systems. That is why certified infosec professionals are in high demand, both in the public and private sectors. The SSCP certification by (ISC)2 is among the premier certifications you can aim for, providing you with promising career opportunities and industry-best salaries.

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