CCSP exam details and process in 2024: Your guide to cybersecurity certification success

Infosec Institute
February 27, 2024 by
Infosec Institute

Concerns about cloud security are rising as businesses increasingly rely on it for critical operations. This growing demand has created a surge in the need for skilled cloud security professionals, and the Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) certification is a crucial credential for those seeking to excel in this field. 

The CCSP certification is more than just an exam or an acronym. It's a gateway to a promising career path and a rapidly growing industry. In 2022, the global cloud security market reached over $35 billion, and experts predict it will reach $125 billion by 2032. This translates to a significant demand for professionals equipped with the CCSP certification. 

This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the CCSP certification, covering its importance, eligibility requirements, exam structure and study tips. We'll also answer some questions about the CCSP and guide you through maintaining your certification after you earn it. 

Understanding the ISC2 CCSP certification 

The Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) certification validates an individual's knowledge and skills in securing cloud environments. It covers many topics, including cloud security architecture, design, operations, governments and compliance. Earning the CCSP demonstrates your understanding of best practices in cloud security. 

The CCSP is a globally recognized credential highly valued by employers in the cybersecurity industry. It is considered the premier certification for cloud security professionals and is often a requirement for senior-level positions. 

The CCSP stands out as a vendor-neutral certification, unlike some popular cloud security certifications offered by specific cloud providers. This vendor neutrality allows you to demonstrate your cloud security expertise across various platforms, expanding your potential career opportunities. However, vendor-specific certifications, like AWS Certified Security Specialist and Azure Security Engineer, can be valuable additions to your skillset and provide in-depth knowledge of a particular cloud platform. 

Earn your CCSP, guaranteed!

Earn your CCSP, guaranteed!

Save your spot for an upcoming CCSP Boot Camp and earn one of the most in-demand cloud security certifications — guaranteed!

CCSP exam overview 

The CCSP exam underwent its most recent update in August 2022, reflecting the ever-evolving nature of cloud security. These updates typically occur every three years to ensure the exam aligns with current industry trends and practices. Here are some details about this version of the exam: 

  • The CCSP is a computer-based exam delivered at Pearson VUE testing centers or through online proctoring. 
  • It consists of 150 multiple-choice questions with four answer choices. 
  • The allotted time to complete the exam is 4 hours. 
  • A passing grade is 700 out of 1000 points. 

50 of the exam questions are unscored pretest questions, but it is essential to know that pretest questions are indistinguishable from operational (scored) questions. The update to the exam in 2022 added 25 new pretest questions and increased the exam time from three to four hours. The Cloud Data Security domain rose from 19% to 20% of the exam, and the Cloud Security Operations domain decreased from 17% to 16%. 

CCSP exam eligibility and requirements 

Earning the CCSP certification signifies your commitment to excellence in cloud security. Before starting your exam journey, let's explore the eligibility criteria and requirements so you know how to become CCSP certified: 

  • Holding a minimum of five years of cumulative paid work experience in information technology, of which at least three years must be in information security and one year must be in one or more of the six CCSP domains 
  • Possessing an active CISSP certification waives the entire CCSP experience requirement 
  • Holding a post-secondary degree in computer science, information technology or related fields to satisfy up to one year of the required experience 
  • Earning CSA's CCSK certification to substitute for one year of experience in the six CCSP domains 
  • Paying the exam fee: $599 in the U.S. 

You also don't need a full-time job to gain experience. Part-time work and internships can contribute to your experience requirement with proportional adjustments. 

Breakdown of CCSP exam domains 

The CCSP exam encompasses six core domains, each representing a critical area of cloud security knowledge. Understanding these domains and their respective weights is crucial for effective study planning. Here is a CCSP overview of domains along with their key topics: 

1. Cloud Concepts, Architecture and Design (17%) 

  • Cloud service models (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) 
  • Cloud deployment models (public, private, hybrid) 
  • Shared security responsibility model 
  • Secure cloud architecture design principles 
  • Cloud governance frameworks 

2. Cloud Data Security (20%) 

  • Data encryption techniques and key management 
  • Data classification and labeling 
  • Data access controls and identity management 
  • Data loss prevention (DLP) and data residency 
  • Cloud-based data security solutions 

3. Cloud Platform and Infrastructure Security (17%) 

  • Security of virtual machines and containers 
  • Network security in cloud environments 
  • Cloud workload protection platforms (CWPPs) 
  • Infrastructure as code (IaC) security 
  • Identity and access management (IAM) for cloud platforms 

4. Cloud Application Security (17%) 

  • Secure coding practices for cloud applications 
  • API security and authorization 
  • Cloud application vulnerability assessment and penetration testing (VA/PT) 
  • Container and serverless security 
  • Cloud application workload protection (CAWP) solutions 

5. Cloud Security Operations (16%) 

  • Secure information and event management (SIEM) for cloud environments 
  • Cloud-based incident response and forensics 
  • Cloud threat intelligence and threat hunting 
  • Security logging and monitoring in the cloud 
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity planning 

6. Legal, Risk and Compliance (13%) 

  • Cloud-specific legal and regulatory frameworks (e.g., GDPR, CCPA) 
  • Data privacy and security compliance in the cloud 
  • Contractual security obligations with cloud providers 
  • Risk assessment and management methodologies 
  • Cloud security audit and compliance requirements 

Earn your CCSP, guaranteed!

Earn your CCSP, guaranteed!

Save your spot for an upcoming CCSP Boot Camp and earn one of the most in-demand cloud security certifications — guaranteed!

CCSP study materials and preparation tips 

Earning the CCSP certification demands dedication and preparation. Here's your toolkit to navigate the process effectively, beginning with these CCSP study resources: 

  • Official ISC2 Study Materials: 
    • ISC2 CCSP Certified Cloud Security Professional Official Study Guide: This guide examines all six CCSP domains in-depth, providing detailed explanations, practice questions and valuable insights. 
    • ISC2 CCSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK): The official outline of exam content, providing a detailed overview of the six domains and their subtopics. 
  • Infosec Study Options: 
    • ISC2 CCSP Training Bootcamp: Immerse yourself in an intensive, instructor-led LED training covering all CCSP domains in five days. 
    • ISC2 CCSP Learning Path: Progress through eight cloud security courses as you learn all six CCSP domains at your own pace. 
    • ISC CCSP certification hub: Learn more details about each of the six CCSP domains, find answers to your questions about the exam and discover even more learning materials. 

Once you have your study resources ready, here are some tips to get more out of the study process: 

  • Create a study plan: Allocate dedicated weekly study time, creating a structured schedule covering all six domains. 
  • Use various resources: Combine a learning path or boot camp with the official study guide and online resources, practice exams and articles by CCSP holders. 
  • Focus on understanding, not just memorizing: According to JDMurray at TechExams, "You're supposed to learn and understand the cert material and not memorize a bunch of practice questions in the hopes that you see some of them on your exam." 
  • Join a study group or community: Communities and forums like TechExams will let you connect with other CCSP aspirants who can provide valuable support and tips. 
  • Take practice exams: While you shouldn't memorize the questions, learning the format with practice exams is helpful. According to Valthor95 on the r/CCSP subreddit, "One of the problems I had was that I was not familiar with how (ISC)2 would ask the question." 

The CCSP exam process 

Navigating the CCSP exam can be challenging if it is your first time. Here is a step-by-step guide to walk you through the process: 

  • Step 1: Registration and Scheduling: 
    • Create an account on the ISC2 website. 
    • Review and agree to ICS2 policies. 
    • Schedule your exam (two options): 
    • Pearson VUE Testing Centers: The centers offer a traditional in-person testing environment. 
    • Online Proctoring: This option allows you to take the exam from the comfort of your home with remote proctoring via webcam and microphone. 
  • Step 2: Preparation and Payment: 
    • Bring a valid government-issued photo ID and a secondary ID. Both should include your signature. 
    • Pay the exam fee, which is $599 for U.S. applicants. 
  • Step 3: Exam Day: 
    • Arrive early to allow time for check-in procedures and security measures. 
    • Stay calm and focused. 
    • Read questions carefully to avoid misinterpretations. 
    • Allocate appropriate time to each question, leaving a buffer for reviewing unclear ones. 
    • Flag uncertain questions to revisit later if the time permits. 
    • Review your answers before submitting. 

Maintaining your CCSP certification 

Your CCSP certification is your first step to cloud security excellence, but your journey doesn't end there. To maintain your active status and stay relevant, you must fulfill continuing professional education (CPE) requirements and renew your certification every three years. 

Here are details on CPE requirements: 

  • Earn a minimum of 90 CPE credits within each three-year cycle. 
  • At least 30 CPE credits must be obtained from activities directly related to cloud security. 
  • You can earn CPEs through various activities like: 
  • Attending conferences, workshops and webinars on cloud security topics. 
  • Completing online training courses and certifications. 
  • Authoring articles, blogs or white papers on cloud security. 
  • Presenting at conferences or industry events. 
  • Participating in professional organizations and communities focused on cloud security. 

If you have fulfilled the CPE requirements, you can follow these steps to renew your CCSP certification: 

  • You'll receive a notification from ISC2 approximately 90 days before your certification expires. 
  • Log into your ISC2 account and submit your CPE activity report. 
  • Pay the annual maintenance fee of $125. 
  • Once your CPE report and annual maintenance fee are verified, your certification will be renewed for another three years. 

ISC2 offers various resources and tools to help you track your CPEs, find relevant activities and understand the renewal process. Failing to meet CPE requirements or renew your certification results in an inactive status, requiring you to retake the exam to regain active certification. 

CCSP and the cybersecurity job market 

Earning your CCSP certification is a strategic investment in your cybersecurity career. The demand for cloud-skilled and cybersecurity-skilled professionals is skyrocketing, and the CCSP validates your expertise in both domains. It also is a stepping stone to your career advancement: 

  • Earning potential: CCSP holders earn significantly higher sellers than their non-certified counterparts. Our blog on the job outlook for CCSP certification holders found that the average CCSP salary in North America is $120,000. 
  • Increased marketability: The CCSP is a globally recognized credential, signifying your expertise and commitment to cloud security. It demonstrates your in-depth knowledge and ability to navigate the intricacies of securing cloud environments. 
  • Leadership opportunities: As organizations prioritize cloud adoption, CCSP holders are well-positioned for leadership roles in cloud security teams. 

As emerging technologies like AI and IoT reshape the cloud ecosystem, the demand for CCSP professionals will only escalate. The CCSP also aligns with critical trends like cloud adoption, zero trust security and data privacy regulations, making you a sought-after expert in these vital areas. Additionally, the CCSP complements other prominent cybersecurity certifications, creating a well-rounded skillset that broadens your career horizons. So, get started today and unlock a world of possibilities in cloud security. 

Earn your CCSP, guaranteed!

Earn your CCSP, guaranteed!

Save your spot for an upcoming CCSP Boot Camp and earn one of the most in-demand cloud security certifications — guaranteed!

CCSP frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Is CCSP in demand? 

Absolutely! With cloud adoption booming, the demand for skilled cloud security professionals is skyrocketing. The CCSP certification validates your expertise in this area, making you in demand. 

How hard is the CCSP exam? 

The difficulty varies based on your experience and preparation. It requires a solid understanding of the six core domains and strong test-taking skills. Dedicating time to studying and utilizing various resources can significantly increase your chance of success. 

How much time do you have to complete the CCSP exam? 

You have four hours to answer 150 multiple-choice questions. Effective time management is essential for exam success. 

Where can I learn more about the CCSP? 

Start with Infosec's ISC2 CCSP certification hub for a comprehensive introduction to everything CCSP certification offers. 

How can I train for the CCSP? 

ISC2 offers various resources like study guides and practice tests. Infosec has more than 20 years of preparing students for certification exams like CCSP and provides both a CCSP Boot Camp that will prepare you for the exam in five days and a CCSP Learning Path for candidates who would instead learn at their own pace. 

Infosec Institute
Infosec Institute

Infosec’s mission is to put people at the center of cybersecurity. We help IT and security professionals advance their careers with skills development and certifications while empowering all employees with security awareness and phishing training to stay cyber safe at work and home. More than 70% of the Fortune 500 have relied on Infosec Skills to develop their security talent, and more than 5 million learners worldwide are more cyber-resilient from Infosec IQ’s security awareness training.