As the need to protect online information grows, so does the popularity of cybersecurity bootcamps. These concentrated training programs are most often designed for entry-level students looking to gain a foothold into the industry, although some providers offer intermediate and advanced level training. Bootcamp providers, ranging from universities to tech companies to private skill academies often offer both live and self-paced online options.
While some cybersecurity bootcamps are full-time programs, many provide options that are geared towards working professionals or college students with evening and weekend classes available. Typically running from 8 to 36 weeks, bootcamps allow their participants to kickstart their career in this growing industry in a significantly shorter period of time than it takes to obtain a bachelor’s degree.
While you won’t earn an academic degree from a bootcamp, many directly prepare their students to take industry standard certification tests. Completion of these certifications is a great indicator to potential employers of your mastery of the subject and can help you stand out among the job-seeking crowd. In contrast to a full degree, bootcamps teach only the “must have” skills, including designing software and networks with optimum levels of security, troubleshooting common problems, and predicting and protecting against data breaches.
Before you decide if a cybersecurity bootcamp is right for you, let’s dive into the basics of the job descriptions, must-have skills and what you can expect post-completion.
How safe is your data online? It’s estimated that in 2021 there could be a ransomware cyberattack every 11 seconds in the world, costing $20 billion in damages, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. It’s no wonder that the demand for cybersecurity professionals has increased.
The practice of cybersecurity encompasses all the technologies, practices and processes that keep users and systems safe from attack on the web. Networks, devices, programs, and datasets can all be victims of breaches, with bad actors typically looking to access or destroy private information, interrupt business operations or even extort money from users. Cybersecurity, or IT Security professionals implement frameworks and procedures that ensure operations and data are not vulnerable to attack. The complexity of this technology has grown in conjunction with the popularity of the web and as well as the types of attacks developed by hackers.
In 2020, Statista reported 1001 data breaches in the United States and that over 155 million people were victims of data exposures of some form. Think of all the locations online you’ve willingly given your personal information; organizations in government, healthcare, financial institutions and more have a special duty to safeguard the data they collect and store to protect not only their customers but themselves from any negative business consequences or legal liabilities. As the level of sophistication of cyberattacks increases, companies have kept up by beefing up their workforce devoted to implementing digital safety measures. By 2022 The worldwide information security market is forecast to reach $170.4 billion according to Gartner. The sticker shock of these costs might seem high to some companies, but the cost of doing nothing can be a lot more. Beyond the incalculable loss of consumer trust, the average total cost of a data breach can range from $2.35 million for a smaller company up to $5.11 million for larger firms, according to IBM.
With almost 70 percent of businesses indicating that their feeling of online risk is increasing, the market for cybersecurity professionals is set to explode. So how can you take advantage of this increasing demand? One great option is earning a certificate from a cybersecurity bootcamp. Below, we’ve broken down all the basics of what you need to know before enrolling.
Cybersecurity bootcamps teach students to create secure websites and react to breaches in systems. By the end of the course, students can expect to gain the knowledge they need to work within the IT department of a business or for a third-party security provider. Here are the top ten skills taught at most bootcamps:
Basic Introduction to Cybersecurity – Most programs will begin with an introductory module breaking down the different aspects of the profession and what they entail. Cybersecurity includes a variety of subject areas, including:
Knowing which areas you are most interested in can help you pinpoint the type of cybersecurity career you want to pursue.
Networking – Before you can secure a network, you must first understand how the computers and systems in a network communicate with each other and how internet protocols are put in place. Cybersecurity bootcamps teach you how to ward off, recognize, and intercept network misuse and unauthorized access within the different parts of the network.
Security Programs and Frameworks – Students must understand the security measures of which industries must comply and how information is developed, accessed, and shared among employees. Security frameworks and compliance standards are key skills taught in cybersecurity bootcamps.
Lock picking – Lock picking is a way for cybersecurity professionals to “think like the enemy.” Cybersecurity bootcamps teach you how to find faults in security systems in order to predict and prevent ways that a system can be compromised.
Server connections – All cybersecurity bootcamps include modules that show how databases, systems, servers, and clients interact and are linked together. Students learn programs such as Git, Apache, SQL databases, Linux for software installation, and more. Some cybersecurity bootcamps dive deeper into analyzing security data to explore trends in the dependability of systems, teaching data analysis tools such as Tableau.
Programming – Most cybersecurity bootcamps emphasize the need to have an understanding of programming, most commonly with Python, and knowing command line basics that can be used across programming systems.
Virtual Security – Cloud security has become necessary as data stored in the cloud continues to increase. That’s why the use of firewalls, circumventing public internet connections and working in virtual environments to test risk of deletion, theft, and security leaks are necessary skills learned in a cybersecurity bootcamp.
Threat Motives – Cyber Security professionals need to understand what motivates hackers and from where many threats come. Students will explore malware, fraud, data sharing, ransomware, and more in cybersecurity bootcamps.
Security Operations architecture and Threat Modeling – Cybersecurity bootcamp students must learn how to design and implement security measures to websites, software, and apps through firewalls, monitoring, detection, and troubleshooting. Students must be able to better secure networks, operating systems, software, and programs from threats and use models to predict where threats may come from and maximize security.
Cryptology – Encryption is a key part of securing digital data and an important part of cybersecurity. Cybersecurity bootcamps teach individuals how to use encryption through methods such as hashing, Modulus Arithmetic, and Boolean Logic. Bootcamp enrollees also learn security procedures such as Public Key Infrastructure, signatures, and key management.
Cybersecurity bootcamps are located in various parts of the U.S. and many can be taken 100% online. Below you can browse our complete listings of locations, but in brief, options are available across almost all major U.S. markets including New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville and more. Browse our city page listings to see a comprehensive list of program offerings by location. These bootcamps can typically be completed in anywhere from 8 to 36 weeks depending on the depth of the program and hours offered.
An online and/or part-time bootcamp can be a great option as well, especially for those already working full-time or looking to complement additional classes in college. Many online cybersecurity bootcamps offer part-time, full-time or self-paced options as well as the ability to take classes on evenings or weekends. We have noted which programs offer these in our listings below.
The type of provider is another factor to consider when deciding on a specific program to take. Some courses are offered through higher education institutions and may leverage professors and educational resources affiliated with the University. Other bootcamps are offered through individualized and third-party providers. Both types of programs often offer courses in complementary subjects like data analytics and coding are often available and can be taken advantage of by students looking to scale up skills across multiple disciplines.
When comparing cybersecurity bootcamps, it is important to consider your career goals and desired outcome of the program. While curricula of individual programs might seem similar, each will provide a different experience. Take a moment to review our listings and browse the program’s “About Us” page to see if the particular subjects and curricula align with the skill sets you are looking to learn. If you’re already familiar with IT practices and looking to brush up on a specific topic you might consider a self-guided fully online bootcamp whereas a beginner might be more inclined toward a more immersive full-time program.
While most cybersecurity bootcamps have an application process, many do not have prerequisite requirements. However, since there is no standard admission requirement across providers, we recommend checking for each individual program that interests you. For most of our listings regardless of provider, programs are targeted at beginners or those looking to enter the field; this means that a bachelor’s degree and prior work experience are often NOT a requirement. Some providers offer differentiated courses by skill level and will look for some background experience in specific IT fundamentals prior to registration. If you’re interested in an intermediate or advanced level course, we recommend checking out the specific admission requirements on their site, as the specific baseline knowledge requirements in topics like computer science or networking frameworks will vary.
Similar to admission requirements, the cost of cybersecurity bootcamps differs by providers. A 3-6 month program will run you approximately $8,000 – $20,000. Full-time immersive programs will run on the higher end of this spectrum, closer to the $15-20k range. On the other end, part-time courses require a lower time and financial commitment, at tuition costs averaging $1-$5k. Many bootcamps offer need-based and merit-based scholarships, which we’ve noted in our listings below when applicable.
Depending on your particular situation, cybersecurity bootcamps can help you move up to the next level from your current role, develop new expertise, or make a career 180. The prices of these programs can be significant though, so think about what kind of outcome you want to achieve as you’re choosing a bootcamp. Many programs include career support systems that will help you reach your goal. In this section, we’ll examine why digital bootcamps might be a good choice for you, as well as the types of career outcomes you can expect following completion.
One important factor to consider at the beginning of a professional journey is industry outlook, and for the cybersecurity and IT field, it looks excellent! According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for the cybersecurity field is promising and lucrative. In 2020, the median pay for information security analysts was over $103,000 per year and the expected job growth from 2019-2029 is 31%, much higher than the 4% average growth for all occupations
Graduate in Weeks, Not Years – One thing is almost a guarantee when it comes to taking any type of bootcamp: you are likely to complete your education quicker and cheaper in comparison to a four-year or even two-year degree program. The average cost of a degree at an in-state four year college is $101,584. Bootcamps cut out irrelevant instruction to focus on streamlined skills you need to succeed in the workforce
Adapt to an Evolving Workplace – As we mentioned earlier, the structure of bootcamps allows them to nimbly adapt to trends in the industry, especially as the types of attacks evolve to be more advanced. Bootcamps curriculums are often created by security experts in the field and echo current trends while exposing students to the latest tools and techniques.
Join a Growing Field Quickly – As the acceleration of leading our life online, both professionally and recreationally, continues, organizations’ investment in their digital security infrastructure is a safe bet. Fifty percent of enterprises with 10,000 or more employees are spending at least $1 million annually on security, according to Cisco. Bootcamps can provide an entry into the field, as well as career mobility and stability amidst these shifts.
Build Your Professional Network – Participating in a bootcamp will allow you to network with fellow students, instructors and administrators. Many courses are taught by industry experts and feature guest speakers or options to engage in career development, which we elaborate on below. Additionally, some bootcamps offered by Universities offer the ability to access on-campus resources and attend events.
In addition to considering location, cost and time commitment, here are a few other differentiating factors to consider when aligning your cybersecurity bootcamp with your career goals. Ask yourself which of these factors are most important for your desired outcomes:
In short, the answer is yes! Cybersecurity bootcamps look to supplement their curriculum via several different professional development services. Many match students with a 1:1 mentorship program or provide access to career counseling. We recommend checking the completion and hiring rates of programs that interest you if they are available; these are typically a good indicator of the success you might see after completing the course. Look for independently verified job data for program grads if possible. Overall a cybersecurity bootcamp can help you initiate a career with very few prerequisites.
Completion of a Cybersecurity Bootcamp can help you find employment in a variety of careers in information security such as threat intel analyst, security engineer, security consultant, cybersecurity analyst, cybersecurity engineer, cyber analyst, cybersecurity compliance engineer, cybersecurity IT specialist, and cybersecurity systems manager.
Below we’ve listed out average salaries from Indeed for a number of different positions, although figures can vary widely by city and level of specialization. Demand for these roles is increasing across the board, so many roles offer additional bonus compensation or other perks.
As of June 2021, Indeed.com reported the following average base salaries for cybersecurity-related careers:
|Job Title||Average Base Salary|
|Information Technology Specialist||$50,246|
|IT Security Specialist||$80,654|
|Chief Information Officer||$126,514|