IN THIS ARTICLE
- What Is a Cybersecurity Bootcamp?
- Cybersecurity Bootcamps: Pros and Cons
- Understanding Cybersecurity Bootcamps: Things To Know
- Is a Cybersecurity Bootcamp Worth It for Me?
- Cybersecurity Bootcamps vs. Other Learning Methods
- Landing a Job After a Cybersecurity Bootcamp
- Making a Career in Cybersecurity Through a Bootcamp: Real-Life...
- Are Cybersecurity Bootcamps Worth It FAQs
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A career in cybersecurity offers both job stability and lucrative salaries. It’s a noble profession—you’re responsible for safeguarding sensitive data and digital assets—and because there’s such a shortage of cybersecurity professionals, it’s not unheard of for even entry-level positions to come with six-figure salaries.
One of the most efficient ways of learning cybersecurity principles and landing a cybersecurity role is with a bootcamp. Bootcamps are intensive courses that usually take place online, and promise to get you job-ready in under a year.
So if you’ve been wondering about whether a cybersecurity bootcamp is worth it, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to find out what you can learn at cybersecurity bootcamps, their pros and cons, and how to decide whether they’re the right choice for you.
Table of Contents
What Is a Cybersecurity Bootcamp?
A career in cybersecurity offers job security with a lucrative salary, plus inclusion in a noble profession that safeguards sensitive data and digital assets. The demand for cybersecurity professionals is expected to grow 32% by 2032, with a current median annual salary of $112,000. While there are many educational paths that lead to a career in cybersecurity, one of the most efficient is through a bootcamp.
A cybersecurity bootcamp is a focused, intensive learning path in which students gain a cybersecurity education over the course of a few months. The entire goal of the process is to take absolute beginners and prepare them for an entry-level cybersecurity job using real-world projects to ensure realistic hands-on training.
Unlike a conventional college degree covering a more general curriculum, bootcamps focus on just a singular field, cybersecurity skills. Bootcamps usually train students in security fundamentals such as threat intelligence, basic security measures, application security testing, and network security. Additionally, bootcamps offer career coaches and services to students, and some have flexible learning options, like online and in-person sessions.
Cybersecurity Bootcamps: Pros and Cons
Cybersecurity bootcamp programs are a great option for those looking to quickly gain technical skills in this field. However, they aren’t necessarily for everyone. Here are a few things you need to take into account about the advantages and disadvantages of enrolling in a cybersecurity bootcamp.
This is what makes a cybersecurity bootcamp so appealing:
Cybersecurity bootcamps are usually geared towards beginner students. That means that there are very few prerequisites for anyone looking to enroll in such a course. A foundational knowledge of computers and the Internet is often enough. There are, of course, more advanced cybersecurity bootcamps out there. But if you sign up for one that’s meant for beginners in the field, you’ll be able to get by even if you don’t have pre-existing technical skills.
Streamlined Learning Path
If you complete conventional college programs in areas like computer science or IT with the goal of making a career in cybersecurity, then you will have to work through various unrelated classes. A cybersecurity bootcamp, on the other hand, focuses exclusively on skills that are relevant to the cybersecurity industry. As a result, you can become a job-ready candidate a lot quicker and without having to work through classes in other disciplines.
Up-to-Date With Industry Standards
Cybersecurity bootcamps update their curricula more regularly than colleges do. It also helps that bootcamps hire experienced instructors who have worked or are currently working in the industry. These are things that you usually don’t get in a college education.
Mentorship and Career Coaching
A bootcamp education is often supplemented with various career services. Students at many bootcamps get access to a mentor or student advisor who works with them on a one-on-one basis to understand their career goals and provide job-search strategies. This ensures that you don’t just pick up technical skills but also understand what it takes to land a job in the cybersecurity industry.
Any cybersecurity bootcamps offer their students a guaranteed job, meaning that if you don’t land a job within a certain amount of time after graduation, then you’ll receive a tuition refund.
Here are some of the downsides of a cybersecurity bootcamp:
Cybersecurity bootcamps are no walk in the park. They often require students to be able to commit to multiple hours of study, several per week. To add to that, you’ll also have to complete projects and assignments. All of that can be a big ask, especially if you’re also juggling a full-time job.
Some see the advantage when cybersecurity bootcamps focus only on topics pertaining to the field. But that also means you have to be absolutely sure you want to work in cybersecurity. If that’s not the case, it may be more beneficial for you to choose a more general learning path, like software development.
Missing Out on a Conventional Degree
College degrees are time-intensive and cost-intensive, but they have their pros, too. A college degree will give you a broader education than bootcamp, and many consider college to be something of a rite of passage.
Understanding Cybersecurity Bootcamps: Things To Know
Not every cybersecurity bootcamp is built the same. Let’s take a look at what you can expect to achieve and experience in your time at a bootcamp.
How Do Cybersecurity Bootcamps Work?
Most cybersecurity bootcamps aimed at beginners have pretty relaxed admission requirements. That means prospective students can apply to these programs regardless of educational background and current level of technical knowledge. If you are accepted, you will have a few payment options, usually between upfront payment, month-to-month payment, and a deferred tuition plan.
The mode of delivery varies between different bootcamps. The majority of bootcamps are online-only with synchronous live classes. That means you will have to log in to classes at a specific time and take part in class discussions. Some students opt for in-person classes.
The amount of time you will have to commit on a weekly basis varies from bootcamp to bootcamp. There are usually both part-time and full-time options. Full-time students usually have to be able to do multiple hours of coursework every day. Part-time students, on the other hand, will be required to do a few hours each week.
A large portion of your bootcamp will be focused on hands-on projects, which are designed to help you apply the new cybersecurity concepts you’ve learned. The hands-on experience that you gain will help you understand how cybersecurity specialists do their work in the real world. You can also add your hands-on projects to your cybersecurity portfolio.
Finally, you will be required to submit a capstone project in order to complete the bootcamp. Students usually get the help of a mentor to come up with a theme for their project. Many bootcamps include a presentation day so that students pick up some of the soft skills required to communicate their cybersecurity work to an audience.
What Can You Expect To Learn During a Cybersecurity Bootcamp?
- Skills: A beginner cybersecurity bootcamp will take you through all of the basic skills in the field. That includes basic security concepts like risk management, cryptography, network security, and threat detection.
- Tools: There are various cybersecurity tools that are used in the field to assist with streamlining workflows. Depending on the bootcamp that you attend, you may be taught how to use tools like Splunk, Hashcat, Kali, and OpenSSL.
- Systems: Working with different operating systems is a big part of the work of a cybersecurity engineer. There’s a good chance that beginner courses in cybersecurity cover Windows Server and Linux. You will learn how to maintain these operating systems and set up security measures.
Are There Prerequisites for a Cybersecurity Bootcamp?
Cyber security bootcamps aimed at beginners have very few prerequisites. In most cases, you will just need to be computer literate and know how to use the Internet. More advanced bootcamps will have stricter prerequisites that depend on the specific area of cybersecurity that they focus on.
Is a Cybersecurity Bootcamp Worth It for Me?
Here are some of the ways that you can figure out whether a cybersecurity bootcamp is the right choice for you.
A Cybersecurity Bootcamp Is Worth It for You if…
You’re Certain About Cybersecurity
If you’re absolutely certain about a career in cybersecurity, then a cybersecurity bootcamp makes a lot of sense. It’s an educational modality that’s quite affordable and almost ensures that you’re ready for the professional world. But if you have any doubts about whether cybersecurity is for you, then you should avoid a bootcamp.
You Have the Time for It
There is a significant time commitment that comes with enrolling in a cybersecurity bootcamp. You should always make sure to check exactly how much time you’re required to spend in classes and mentorship sessions before signing up. You’ll then want to add a few hours to that each week for independent study. Enroll in the bootcamp only if you’re able to commit that amount of time every week over a few months.
You Have the Funds
Cybersecurity bootcamps are significantly cheaper than a college degree. However, they may still be a pricey affair for some. Signing up for a bootcamp is worth it only if it is within your means and you have money saved up to tide you through the time that you spend in the program.
A Cybersecurity Bootcamp Is Not Worth It for You if…
You’re Still Exploring the Tech Field
You have many different options when it comes to a career in technology. Despite the high demand for cybersecurity professionals at the moment, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right niche for you. If you’re unsure about which tech discipline you want to work in, then it makes more sense to consider a coding or software engineering bootcamp, because those skills transfer to other fields easily.
You Don’t Do Well With Online Learning
Most cybersecurity bootcamps are online. Even those conducted offline may have some online components. If you prefer in-person classes, then a cybersecurity bootcamp might not be for you. You can, however, research offline bootcamps in your area and visit the facility to get more details.
You Aren’t Ready To Work in Cybersecurity
The investment of time and money that you will make in a cybersecurity bootcamp makes sense only if you’re resolved to work in cybersecurity. Those who are still at a stage ofexploring different career options shouldn’t sign up for a bootcamp. This is especially true because most bootcamps dedicate a lot of time to providing job-specific support, and that becomes irrelevant if you aren’t sure you want to work in the industry.
Get To Know Other Cybersecurity Students
Cybersecurity Bootcamps vs. Other Learning Methods
A bootcamp is just one of the options you have at your disposal when it comes to picking up cybersecurity skills. Let’s take a look at how it stacks up against other modes of learning.
Cybersecurity Bootcamp vs. University Degree
- University degrees are still a viable option when it comes to learning cybersecurity. At the undergraduate level, a degree in computer science or IT will provide you with a strong foundation to go on to study cybersecurity. You can also consider a master’s degree specializing in cybersecurity if you want to qualify for some of the more advanced roles in the industry right out of college.
- The advantage of a university degree is that it gives you a well-rounded perspective of different programming languages, concepts, and tools. You get to work with different professors over several years, and that often means a quite rich and engaging learning process.
- However, those things also come at a cost. A university education is costly, and it can take several years to pay off student loans. Bootcamps, on the other hand, are a lot more affordable, and a lot of them come with a job guarantee, which universities don’t offer.
Cybersecurity Bootcamp vs. Self-Taught Route
- Learning cybersecurity on your own is possible thanks to all of the various free and paid resources that are available online. You can start with just YouTube videos and work your way up to more advanced courses as you become more skilled.
- The self-taught route is the one that offers the most independence and flexibility. It’s also the cheapest option. That said, not everyone can teach themselves something as technically challenging as cybersecurity. Bootcamps offer a mix of expert instruction and accountability that’s lacking in the self-taught mode.
Landing a Job After a Cybersecurity Bootcamp
Here are a few things that you need to know about landing a job after completing a cybersecurity bootcamp.
Can You Get a Cybersecurity Job With Just a Bootcamp?
Yes, you can land a job in cybersecurity after a bootcamp. Many companies have now waived conventional degree requirements and have become open to hiring bootcamp graduates. An easy way to ensure that you get a job is by choosing a bootcamp that comes with a job guarantee. That way, you either get a job or are refunded the money that you spent on the bootcamp.
What Jobs Can You Apply for After a Cybersecurity Bootcamp?
You can apply to various entry-level cybersecurity roles after a cybersecurity bootcamp. In most cases, you will find that you are eligible for a security analyst role. But you can also land entry-level jobs in areas like penetration testing and cryptography after a bootcamp.
What Do Hiring Managers Think of Cybersecurity Bootcamp Graduates?
Hiring managers now don’t make a distinction between bootcamp graduates and college graduates in a lot of cases. So your ability to land a job comes down to your technical skills, evidenced by your portfolio and Github, and your ability to do well in your interview.
Making a Career in Cybersecurity Through a Bootcamp: Real-Life Examples To Inspire You
Here’s a look at a couple of people who successfully went on to careers in cybersecurity after completing a bootcamp.
Anne Leslie had a degree in business and several years of experience in banking before she decided she needed to change something up. So she became part of an initiative that concerns itself with diversity in the cybersecurity industry and completed a cybersecurity bootcamp. In the linked post, she chronicles her unconventional journey, and how she eventually landed a cybersecurity role at the tech giant IBM.
TJ Livermore was an HVAC technician before he signed up for a cybersecurity bootcamp. After completing the bootcamp, he managed to land a job in security at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). TJ’s story is evidence of how a cybersecurity bootcamp can help you break into the tech industry without any prior experience, even if you’re juggling another job at the same time.
Are Cybersecurity Bootcamps Worth It FAQs
We’ve got the answers to your most frequently asked questions.
Is a Cybersecurity Bootcamp Hard?
Cybersecurity bootcamps are not particularly hard if you’re interested in the field. Most bootcamps are beginner-friendly, and instructors are helpful with any doubts that students may have.
Is a Cybersecurity Bootcamp Good for Beginners?
Yes, cybersecurity bootcamps are good for beginners. There are countless examples of people who have broken into the tech industry without any prior experience after completing a cybersecurity bootcamp.
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