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The 5 highest paying IT security certifications in the Middle East

What does a CISSP-certified professional earn in the Middle East? What about a CISM? Here are the top paying IT security certifications in 2017.

The 5 highest paying IT security certifications in the Middle East
Alex Bennett uses his insider knowledge to write regularly on IT security, networking and cloud technology.

Businesses in the Middle East are suffering from a shortage of qualified IT professionals. Worryingly, half of employers now find it difficult to hire candidates with technical skills, according to Bayt.com's Middle East Skills Gap Survey 2016.

A lack of skills in areas like cyber security means disaster for Middle Eastern businesses that already take too long to deal with breaches. Without security knowledge, businesses are vulnerable to data breaches; 1 in 4 organisations report losing data as a result of their cyber skills gap.

"A shortage of people with cybersecurity skills results in direct damage to companies, including the loss of proprietary data and IP," reveals James A Lewis, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS).

According to Bayt.com's survey, training is one solution to the skills gap favoured by business. 42% of employers agree training is the answer to the skills shortage.

Training and certification provides professionals with a route to validate their skills whilst providing employers with an industry-standard benchmark for skills and knowledge.

But which security certifications will net you the highest salary? Using data from PayScale, these are the five highest paying IT security certifications in the Middle East.

1. (ISC)2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

(ISC)2's CISSP is the gold standard IT certification for professionals in managerial and technical security roles.

To achieve this certification you'll need comprehensive knowledge in the design, implementation and management of security programmes. You'll also need to study the 8 CISSP domains which cover a wide range of security topics, from network security to risk management.

The CISSP is a benchmark certification for professionals aiming to achieve high-level roles, like the chief information security officer (CISO). Prerequisites include studying masses of domain knowledge and five years security work experience.

The CISSP is aimed at senior professionals and comes with a salary to match - CISOs that hold this certification earn an average of AED347,000.

2. EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

Professionals studying for the popular Certified Ethical Hacker certification learn how to use the same tools and techniques used by malicious ‘black hat' hackers. You'll be taught how to crack your own systems using popular hacking tools to find faults, backdoors and vulnerabilities.

Achieve the CEH and you'll be able to progress your skills on EC-Council's career path. Next up is the ECSA/LPT, a certification that builds on the CEH to provide professionals with expert penetration testing skills.

By familiarising yourself with how criminal hackers think, you'll be better prepared to secure your own business, or any businesses that hires you. Plus, EC-Council's CEH is a great fit for roles like security analyst, which can net certified professionals AED183,000.

3. ISACA Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

Non-profit information security advocacy group ISACA, predicts a global shortage of 2 million cyber professionals by 2019. The group are doing their part to skill-up the cyber security workforce - their CISM certification is consistently ranked as one of the highest paying and sought after in IT.

Professionals holding the CISM have proved they possess the knowledge required to develop and manage an enterprise information security programme, with a focus on risk and incident management.

CISM is highly sought after for rewarding and high-paying roles. CISM-certified Security Managers can expect to earn AED300,000 on average. For roles like these, many employers will require a professional certification like CISM or CISSP.

4. ISACA Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

Having recently won SC Magazine's Best Professional Certification programme, the CISA is as well-regarded as the CISM.

Also provided by ISACA, the CISA certification validates an IT auditors knowledge in the assessment of vulnerabilities in an enterprise environment.

The CISA is designed for experienced IT auditors and security professionals with a minimum of 5 years professional auditing, control, or security work experience. It's well worth aiming for, as the average salary for a CISA-certified IT Auditor is AED202,000.

5. Cisco CCNP Security Certification

The CCNP Security certification is aligned to the job role of Network Security Engineer, responsible for security across routers and switches. Achieve this certification and you'll learn how to deploy, support and troubleshoot Firewalls, VPNs and IDS/IPS solutions in a networking environment.

Cisco is the industry-leader and achieving this cert will also prove your expert-level knowledge of network security on Cisco machines. But to get certified, you'll need to pass four challenging exams.

If you're interested in network security on Cisco machines, this certification is one to aim for. Average salaries for CCNP Security-certified Network Security Engineers are AED275,000.

A maintained Cisco certification shows you're up-to-date with the latest Cisco technology. The CCNP Security is no exception and Cisco continually monitor the security landscape for anything that may have an impact on your certification or job role.

Alex Bennett is a technical writer for Firebrand Training.

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