Cybersecurity Bootcamps: An Overview
Cyber crime continues to be on the rise with estimates suggesting it will cost the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. As a result, cybersecurity jobs are predicted to grow 33% through 2030, meaning the time to get started on one of the hottest careers is now. Yet, paradoxically, the industry is suffering a dramatic draught of qualified cybersecurity professionals. The need is there, but the talent just doesn’t exist. This creates a huge opportunity for anyone looking to break into the industry.
The problem is that these aren’t jobs just anyone could do (after all, if they were, this cybersecurity shortfall wouldn’t exist) and require both certification and ample of training, and many professionals who have already begun their careers don’t have the personal or economic freedom to put everything on pause and earn the expected Bachelor’s degree or Master’s degree in cybersecurity. The good news? Thanks to cybersecurity bootcamps, they don’t have to.
What are cybersecurity bootcamps? Are they worth it?
Coding bootcamps (like those in cybersecurity) are short-term, intensive, immersive training programs that teach students the practical tech skills they’ll need to hit the ground running. Often dramatically cheaper than earning a Bachelor’s degree, bootcamps take just weeks, not years, and they not uncommonly include career support for graduates if not outright job guarantees.
Although most bootcamps are taken through private companies and independent skills academies, many are also provided through partnerships with traditional universities while still others are actually taught by the universities themselves. Many cybersecurity bootcamps take place entirely online or in blended learning environments, while others remain committed to a fully-immersive on-campus learning environment. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the status of online vs. In-person classes at each school may remain in flux, with some normally in-person programs like The Flatiron School only offering online courses now but planning to reopen soon. Be sure to check school’s websites for the most up-to-date information.
Though the upfront costs of a cybersecurity bootcamp may feel considerable, they’ll provide you with the education you’ll need to pursue this career track much sooner than getting an entire Bachelor’s degree, and often at a fraction of the cost. This will allow you to make that money back more quickly.
According to Coding Dojo, which offers an online cybersecurity bootcamp, 89.1% of their 2019 graduates found a relevant job within the first 180 days of graduation. With the Bureau of Labor Statistics placing the average median salary for an information security analyst (one of the most common cybersecurity roles) at $103,590 as of 2020, you’ll be paying yourself back for your cybersecurity education in no time.
Think a bootcamp may be the route for you? Check out a list of some of our favorites and get started on your cybersecurity career.
Bear in mind that cybersecurity bootcamps are not places to start your coding journey from scratch. Most will require basic coding knowledge as a prerequisite, and you may need to pass an assessment in order to gain admittance.
Here’s a look at the kinds of coding and IT experience that most cybersecurity bootcamps are going to expect you to possess:
- 1-3 years IT or development experience
- Basic understanding of networking and/or application concepts
- Familiarity with scripting languages (Python, Bash, Ruby, Perl, etc.)
- Working knowledge of common operating systems and familiarity with command line operation (Windows and Linux)
- IT Certifications: Network+, CCNA, Security+, CEH, CISSP
If you’re light on general IT experience, consider a general coding bootcamp first to get yourself started (you’ll find even more of them than of the cybersecurity specialization) to prepare. Many of these general coding bootcamps will require no prior experience at all.
Costs associated with cybersecurity bootcamps can vary somewhat dramatically depending on the program but most are in the neighborhood of $10,000 to $20,000. Financing is often available, with some schools also offering steep discounts to those who can afford to pay the entire tuition upfront. Some schools will even defer payment costs until you get a job and may offer you reimbursement if you don’t land one at all.
Many schools (even those offering bootcamps) may offering scholarships, tuition reimbursement or other discounts. For instance, as of March 2021, Fullstack Academy in New York City is offering free tuition to low-income New Yorkers. Be sure to explore each school’s website thoroughly for all information relating to tuition and financial aid.
Bear in mind that the costs may not necessarily stop just at tuition. Be on the lookout for registration fees and any other additional charges that may only be mentioned in the fine print. Bootcamps generally don’t come along with the wealth of extra fees that a typical university might, but some can sneak in.
Additionally, based on your own personal situation, there might be additional costs incurred for purchasing equipment (for instance, certain programs may require a specific type of hardware of software that you may or may not already possess), or housing and transportation if you’re taking an in-person course.
Timeline and Scheduling
Cybersecurity bootcamps tend to come with two different time tables: full-time and part-time. A full-time program can often be completed in as little as 12 weeks (or 3 months) and while part-time programs can take up to 36 weeks (or 9 months) in length. With flexible programming options, you will generally be able to find a system that works for you.
Remember that your time commitment is not limited just to the hours you’re in class. In addition to rigorous study and ample coursework, students who want to get the most out of their cybersecurity education will be working on independent projects and networking with fellow professionals at career events or on campus if attending an in-person bootcamp.
Each program will have its own distinct schedule, which will likely be spelled out on their websites, but you’ll generally be able to expect full-time programs to have their courses take place Monday through Friday during typical 9 to 6 business hours. Part-time programs will likely take place on weeknights and weekends, in order to allow students to continue working full-time jobs if need be.
Top Cybersecurity Bootcamps
Once you’ve decided a cybersecurity bootcamp is the right option for advancing your career, the next step is to decide exactly which program is right for you!
To begin with, you’ll need to decide whether you’re looking for a full-time program or a part-time program. Additionally, many cybersecurity bootcamps take place entirely online or in blended learning environments, while others remain committed to a fully-immersive on-campus learning environment. Cost, program specializations and help with job placement upon graduation are other aspects to consider.
To provide some guidance, we’ve provided a list of some the top cybersecurity bootcamps out there. It’s a healthy mix of full-time, part-time, online, and in-person programs, with many offering flexibility on all these fronts. Be sure to check out each school’s website for the most up-to-date information, particularly as the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic means every school’s situation may be evolving.
Length: 24 weeks (part-time)
Cost: $16,245. A $250 discount is offered to those able to pay upfront and financing options and scholarships are available.
Location: Chicago, Online
Coding Dojo’s Cybersecurity Professional bootcamp lets students graduate mission-ready with an unparalleled informed perspective on cybersecurity and a tactical advantage on day 1 thanks to industry-standard CompTIA Security+ to CySA+ certifications. Their Cybersecurity program teaches students critical skills to assist in the identification, assessment, reporting, and mitigation of technology and information security risks. Best yet, according to Coding Dojo, 89.1% of their 2019 graduates found a relevant job within the first 180 days of graduation.
Length: 20 weeks (part-time)
Cost: $12,500 (remote), $14,500 (in-person). GI Bill is accepted and financing is available. A $250 discount is offered to those able to pay upfront
Location: Chicago, Online
Evolve Security Academy offers a holistic cybersecurity education that includes classes in fields such as network and security programming, open source intelligence, cryptography, SecOps architecture and threat modeling and more. A large focus is also given to job preparation which is both integrated throughout the program and available upon graduation. Graduates at Evolve will receive an Evolve Security Certified Professional (ESCP) certification after passing the 24-hour hands-on lab exam.
As of March 2021, job-seeking graduates received job offers within 74 days on average, with 94% of such Evolve Security alumni hired within 6 months. The median salary increase for hired graduates is a whopping 48%!
Length: 15 weeks (full-time); 20-60 weeks (flex)
Cost: $16,900. Tuition plans are available.
Location: New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington DC, Houston, Seattle, Austin, Denver, Online
Originally based in its namesake Flatiron District of Manhattan, the Flatiron School has expanded over the years to include campuses all over the country as well as a robust online program. Flatiron’s The Cybersecurity Engineering bootcamp is designed for students with a technical background, covering coursework like network and system security, Python, threat intelligence, applied cryptography, and more. Cybersecurity Engineering students undertake a capstone project and graduate from the program prepared for jobs as security engineer, pen tester, security analyst, and security consultant. Flatiron Graduates also receive individual career guidance and access to Flatiron School’s extensive employer network.
Length: 13 weeks (full-time), 26 weeks (part-time)
Cost: $15,980. Scholarships are available.
Location: New York City
Though many cybersecurity bootcamps require some degree of coding or IT experience (often 1-3 years), Fullstack Academy’s cybersecurity analytics program is one of the few available for beginners. Fullstack is the only coding academy officially partnered with the City of New York and touts itself as one of the longest-running and most successful bootcamps in the nation. Fullstack’s course curriculum, labs, and group exercises expose students to concepts like data encoding, system administration, ethical hacking, threat modeling, and more. Throughout the program students will work on building, monitoring, attacking, and defending their own enterprise-level environment with Security Operation Center on AWS. Graduates will receive resume help, networking guidance, and an in-house job fair for students.
Length: 14 weeks
Though it can be completed in only 14 weeks, Level Effect’s Cyber Defense Analyst bootcamp features weekday evening classes only. This means you don’t need to sacrifice your full-time salary in order to complete the program quickly.
Bootcamp students will learn adversary tactics, threat hunting, network and computer forensics, memory, malware analysis, and cloud security, as well as how to utilize the intelligence analysis process used by the U.S. Intelligence community plus. In the bootcamp’s final week, students will take on the role of a Cyber Defense Analyst for a professional capstone project. All graduates will have the opportunity to earn a Cyber Defense Certified Professional (CDCP) certificate.
For students who may be looking to eventually expand their bootcamp education into a full Bachelor’s in Cybersecurity, Level Effect has partnered with Purdue University Global. A certification from Level Effect is worth 47 credits in Purdue’s Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity program.
Length: 14 weeks (full-time), flexible options also available
Cost: $12,500. Income share agreements are available as well as discounts for military veterans.
Location: Phoenix, Online
NGT Academy’s Cybersecurity Specialist program was developed by veteran US military cyber instructors and expert cybersecurity field engineers and has been reviewed and influenced by Chief Security Officers from Fortune 500 companies. NGT Academy makes it its sole mission is to help prepare you and aid you in landing your first job. Their dedicated career service team will work with you in accomplishing landing a job in networking or cyber security. The career service team aids students with professional career coaching, technical and behavioral practice interviews, professional career maps, and guidance check-ins.
Northwestern Cybersecurity Boot Camp
Length: 24 weeks (part-time)
Location: Chicago, Online
Though many cybersecurity bootcamps are provided through private companies and skills academies, many come from established and respected universities like Chicago’s Northwestern University. Their bootcamp offers a challenging, part-time program that takes a multidisciplinary approach in attaining proficiency in IT, networking, and modern information security throughout the course of 24 intensive weeks.
Students can use popular tools like Wireshark and Metasploit, and learn skills applicable to certifications such as the CompTIA Security+, Network+, Linux+, Server+, Cloud+, and certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). Graduates will advance their career without disrupting their current employment through convenient evening and weekend classes.
Length: 24 weeks (part-time)
Looking to attend an Ivy League Boot Camp? Look no further than the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Cybersecurity Boot Camp where participants get hands-on training in defensive and offensive cybersecurity. Students learn from skilled instructors and gain real-world experience through collaboration and hands-on application.
The curriculum will dive into the foundational skills for cybersecurity, including networking and systems, cloud security, ethical hacking and penetration, and programming and scripting. Penn students will have access to portfolio reviews, resume and social media profile support, high-impact career events, workshops, mock interviews, and 1:1 career coaching. Graduates receive a Certificate of Completion, showcasing their accomplishments to future employers, and skills applicable to certifications in cybersecurity.
Length: 6 months
Cost: $11,900 (when paying upfront, $14,340 if not)
With a strong emphasis on securing their students employment upon graduating, Springboard‘s Cyber Security Bootcamp is an intensive career development program that helps students learn in-demand skills, preparing them for a globally recognized certification in cybersecurity.
Springboard offers a job guarantee: once you complete the course, their career services team (including your personal coach) will support you for 6 months in the job search and if, after that time, you have met all the requirements and are unable to secure employment, you’ll receive a full refund.
Springboard partnered with CompTIA, the world’s leading tech association, to develop a curriculum follows a rigorous project-based learning methodology that includes learning resources, practice exercises, practical labs, and career-related coursework.