Cybersecurity isn’t only a national security issue making headlines almost daily — it’s a top imperative for organizations, public and private. In fact, a majority (73%) rate their security readiness only average or below average, according to the 2021 Cloud Security Report by Cybersecurity Insiders.

And that unease extends to the cloud. Though cloud-based security solutions offer significant advantages, resistance to migrating to the cloud continues to exist. Those surveyed say staff expertise and training continues to rank as the highest barriers (53%) to cloud adoption.

That realization is leading more enterprises and individuals to move on training and certifying their teams to command the cloud. But as they begin the research process, they quickly discover the daunting task ahead of them: selecting the right cloud security certification from the long list of options in front of them.

To help streamline the process, let’s look at how two leading cloud security credentials compare: Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) vs. Professional Cloud Security Manager (PCS).

Where did the certifications originate?

CCSP was co-developed and launched in 2015 by two nonprofit organizations focused on cloud and information security — ISC2 and the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA). The stand-alone, vendor-neutral credential was designed to complement and build upon existing certifications and education programs. Since the co-development and launch of CCSP, ISC2 continues to maintain and update the exam and training materials to ensure ISO accreditation.

PCS was developed and launched in 2015 by the nonprofit organization Cloud Credential Council (CCC). The vendor-neutral credential is complementary to vendor-specific training and certification programs. CCC’s portfolio includes foundation-level programs on cloud, IoT, big data and blockchain and professional certifications for cloud.

Are they accredited?

CCSP holds ISO/IEC/ANSI accreditation for the internationally recognized cloud standards (ISO/IEC 17024, 17788, 17789, 27017, 27018).

PCS is accredited by the Cloud Security Council.

What level of professional experience is required?

CCSP candidates are expert-level professionals. They must have at least five years of cumulative, paid work experience in information technology, of which three years must be in information security and one year in one or more of the six domains of the ISC2 CCSP Common Body of Knowledge. A candidate who doesn’t yet have the required experience to become a CCSP may become an Associate of ISC2 after successfully passing the CCSP exam. The Associate of ISC2 will then have six years to earn the experience needed for the CCSP certification.

PCS candidates are recommended but not required to have five years or more of enterprise security experience as well as a solid understanding of cloud computing services and deployment models.

What’s the earning potential?

Certification Magazine’s 2021 salary survey ranks CCSP high up at No. 8 on its list of most lucrative certifications with an average draw of $150,400 USD annually. PCS did not make the list, however Global Knowledge’s 2020 IT Skills and Salary Report shows average annual earnings of $94,778 USD for CCC-certified professionals. In the two rankings, CCSP average earnings increased ↑ 12% from the previous year while CCC’s average salary decreased ↓ 20% from 12 months earlier.

What is each cert’s emphasis on cloud security?

CCSP demonstrates that cloud security professionals have the required knowledge, skills and experience in cloud security design, implementation, architecture, operations, controls, and compliance with regulatory frameworks.

PCS covers design security in the cloud infrastructure, configurations and applications running within a cloud computing environment.

Topics Covered


Cloud Concepts, Architecture and Design

Cloud Computing: Security, Risks and Governance

Cloud Data Security

Physical and Operations Security

Cloud Platform and Infrastructure Security

Security Management Controls

Cloud Application Security

Legal, Contractual and Operational Monitoring

Cloud Security Operations

Network Security Management

Legal, Risk and Compliance

Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery and Capacity/Performance Planning

Advanced Cloud Security Management Practices

What continuing professional education is required to maintain certification?

CCSP-credentialed professionals must participate in continuing professional education (CPE) to stay current on emerging threats, technologies, regulations, standards, and practices. They are required to earn and submit a minimum of 30 CPEs each year; 90 CPEs by the end of the 3-year recertification cycle.

PCS-credentialed professionals hold the certification for life. No continuing professional education is required.

Certification and Maintenance Details


Length of Exam

3 hours/125 multiple-choice questions

75 minutes/25 multiple-choice questions

Passing Score

700 out of 1,000 (70%)


Exam Fee

$599 USD

$495 USD

Annual Maintenance

$135 USD



90 credits over 3 years


How CCSP Certification Can Help You Succeed

Earning the globally recognized CCSP cloud security certification is a proven way to build your career and better secure critical assets in the cloud. CCSP shows you have the advanced technical skills and knowledge to design, manage and secure data, applications and infrastructure in the cloud using best practices, policies and procedures established by the cybersecurity member experts at ISC2.

Achieving CCSP certification provides the added benefit of membership in ISC2, the world's largest nonprofit association of cybersecurity professionals, more than 150,000 members strong. ISC2 provides members with professional development courses through the Professional Development Institute (PDI); technical webinars covering evolving cybersecurity trends; and benefits, such as the ISC2 Community.

Learn more about how CCSP can help you migrate to the cloud securely in our eBook, 20 Tips for Secure Cloud Migration.

Download your copy of The Ultimate Guide to the CCSP and get started toward certification today.