Are Cybersecurity Bootcamps Worth It?

Are cybersecurity bootcamps worth it? If you’re not quite so sure, be sure to read the points highlighted below to determine if this is something you should pursue.

What Is a Cybersecurity Bootcamp?

A cybersecurity bootcamp is an instructor-led approach to learning security concepts in a structured classroom setting that can either be 100% in-person, 100% virtual, or a hybrid of each.

Just as with any other bootcamp, you’ll be surrounded by other students all learning security concepts while being able to apply those concepts in a hands-on environment (a lab) allowing you to collaborate with peers to give you a more real-world experience.

There are two types of cybersecurity bootcamps: a) those specifically used for the purpose of passing a cybersecurity certificate, or b) those that are more generalized to train students on the basics of cybersecurity in order to retain a job.

The Best Reason to Attend Cybersecurity Bootcamp?

To be absolutely clear, the only reason that you’d ever consider attending a bootcamp is if you prefer an instructor-led style of learning.

Additionally, some bootcamps provide Academic Advisors, 24×7 technical support, mentoring sessions with industry experts and include student support for coursework in an effort to help you pass the course.

If you can afford the cost of the bootcamp and can buckle down and study, this may be a good option for you.

Do Cybersecurity Bootcamps Work?

Yes, they do work, but each person has a different outcome based upon their own experience and level of involvement. If you work hard, study on your own outside of class, and can keep pace with the instructor, you should do fine to pass the course and exam.

How Much Do Cybersecurity Bootcamps Cost?

A reputable bootcamp can cost anywhere from the price of an Associate’s degree all the way up to a four-year college degree. So, the question becomes, would it be better to earn a security bootcamp vs. getting a college degree (or even getting a second college degree)? Want to know if a cybersecurity degree is worth it?

If you have the money and can pay upfront, you might be able to receive a discount, but if you’re unable to pay everything in a lump sum, an educational loan (such as Sallie Mae) or paying in installments is another option; although, be aware of any fees associated with loans or installment plans. If you’re a veteran, you might even be able to use your GI Bill.

Unless the pros really outweigh the cons, be careful of bootcamps that have only been around a few years as you probably won’t get the same value out of it as you would from a more reputable bootcamp.

At the end of the day, if money is a serious factor, you can always study on your own and pay just for the cost of books and practice exams. You should be able to find several cybersecurity computer simulations online for free or low-cost such as CISA Cybergames, or just do a search for “CTF” (capture the flag).

What to Expect in A Cybersecurity Bootcamp?

Expectation across bootcamps can vary depending on what you’re trying to achieve.

Bootcamps that are geared towards passing a particular security certification will “teach to the test”. For instance, the CompTIA Security+ bootcamp will teach you security concepts that will be helpful for you to pass the Security+ exam.

If you’re not studying for a particular certification, then it’s important to know which domains of cybersecurity you’ll be learning. Below are some of the areas you’ll likely encounter:

Risk Assessment & Management, Ethical Hacking, Data Encryption, Incident Response, Threat Modeling, Network and Information Security, Vulnerability Scanning & Management, Computer Forensics, and Cryptography.

At the end of the course, you’ll either take a practice exam to ensure you understand the concepts, followed by the actual certification exam, or are presented with a capstone project for completion.

Some generalized bootcamps claim to prepare you to take any security certification. While that may be true, if you’re more interested in passing a security certification, you’re better off taking a bootcamp that’s an authorized vendor of the specific certification you want to pass.

How Long Is Cybersecurity Bootcamp?

A cyber security bootcamp can last from as little as a week, although you’d be advised to stay away from any type of bootcamp that claims to teach you anything in that span of time, to some that last up to 28 weeks.

You’ll find most that offer training in the 12-to-24-week timeframe.

The number of training sessions per week depends on the length of the bootcamp, it may meet every day for shorter bootcamps, or twice a week for longer programs.

Can You Get a Job with A Cyber Security Bootcamp?

Yes. While no bootcamp can promise job placement after graduation, completing a cybersecurity bootcamp will provide you an advantage to compete in the cyber job market.

During the job interview, you’ll be expected to provide a technical response either verbally, or through computer simulation, as part of your assessment. The better you do in your bootcamp and the more you’re able to retain, the higher the likelihood of landing the job.

Will a Cyber Security Bootcamp Get Me a Higher Salary?

Maybe. Again, it all depends on how well you do in your interview, the amount of practical experience you possess, how confident you sound in your responses, and whether you know your own value. If a bootcamp helps you in all these areas, then you’re in a much better position to negotiate a higher salary. If you’re not so good at interviews, then it’s time to practice by finding mock interview sessions.

Are All Bootcamps the Same?

Not all bootcamps are the same. The difference between a good bootcamp and a bad one is based upon several factors:

Quality. The quality of their training material, including the knowledge and patience of the instructor. Finding a helpful instructor is worth its weight in gold and shouldn’t be underestimated, and it’s possible you may be able to request your instructor by name.

Longevity. It’s also good to know how long the bootcamp has been around, which is a good indication of their reputation. If it’s only been around a few short years, it probably hasn’t garnered enough reviews to be worthwhile.

Graduation & Job Placement Rate. Ask the bootcamp about their graduation and job placement rate. They may have a high graduation rate, but if their job placement rate is low, that might be a red flag.

Career Services. Do they provide careers placement services during graduation? You might be partnered with a career coach with whom you’ll engage to create a job search strategy. You should receive resume assistance and LinkedIn profile creation, networking sessions, and they may even facilitate introductions with employers and industry professionals.

Partnerships. Have they generated partnerships with any well-known companies or top-tier universities? While it may not directly mean much to you, it only adds to the bootcamps credibility. You also become a “preferred candidate” when you graduate if the bootcamp has industry contacts or a pre-existing relationship with the company.

Guarantees. As an added benefit, some bootcamps even have a safety net; meaning if you fail the exam, you get to retake the course for free. Others guarantee that if you don’t find a job within a certain amount of time after graduation, you’ll be entitled to a full refund. A bootcamp that offers such guarantees shows confidence in the quality of their program making it a much more attractive option.

Looking to upgrade your career?

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Are Cybersecurity Bootcamps Worth It?

Regardless of the claims that a bootcamp makes, do your own research and ask the internet. Places like Reddit, Switchup, or CourseReport are good places to research and get honest opinions from actual students about specific cyber bootcamps.

The best way to ensure you’re going to have a pleasant experience is by reading the reviews of the course. Remember to look for bootcamps that have been around for several years, maintain a quality program backed up by guarantees, have garnered industry partnerships, have a good graduation and job placement rate, and are able to sustain solid reviews.

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