How to Learn Cybersecurity Skills on a Budget

Your journey to a cybersecurity career will require you to learn new skills. The basic skills and knowledge of cybersecurity will be standard for most people, but your learning path will be flavored by the specialties that interested you in the Discovery phase of your Roadmap to a Cybersecurity Career.

The amount of time the Self-Education takes will depend on your starting point and your desired endpoint. A big distinguisher between the available learning paths is cost. There are plenty of excellent university-based training options, but that’s not the best option for everyone’s circumstances. We’re going to focus on non-university options that won’t break the bank. 

Cybersecurity Bootcamps

Technology-focused bootcamps have become quite popular since they first came on the scene in 2011 with Code Assembly’s first coding bootcamp. This learning format can be very useful for cybersecurity aspirants. The costs and duration of cybersecurity bootcamps will vary. The real strength is the focused learning and hands-on training.

Having realized the demand for bootcamps, plenty of universities are now teaching cybersecurity bootcamps. These can be a good option for people, but do your own research. Bootcamps are not a standardized product, so look for one that fits your needs and budget.

One program that I’ve always had great experience with is NPower, which provides training to underrepresented communities and military veterans. Their programs are 100% tuition-free to all accepted participants. 

Cyber Training Platforms

There has been a rise of online platforms designed to provide on-demand training. Cybrary is one platform that has really stood out in recent years. What’s great about Cybrary is that it provides not only online cybersecurity training, but career training paths. Popular career training paths provide cybersecurity aspirants a syllabus of courses focused on their career goals:

  • Become a SOC Analyst - Level 1

  • Become a Penetration Tester

  • Become a Cyber Security Engineer

  • Become an Incident Handler

EC-Council’s iClass platform is also a good place for cybersecurity on-demand training. Admittedly, all of the training is mapped to EC-Council certifications. At least there are a wide breadth of EC-Council certifications nowadays.

One great thing about all-in-one cybersecurity training platforms is that they often provide online sandboxes. These allow you to get some hands-on experience—key to learning—without needing to create additional accounts or incur additional costs.

Individual Courses

Training platforms like Udemy have truly democratized the ability of cybersecurity trainers to reach a wide audience. Cybersecurity aspirants can build or supplement their training curriculum with a la carte courses online. You can take classes mapped to skills of interests or relevant cybersecurity certifications. Your may even have access to Udemy for Business through your employer.

Credentialization

Remember that this Self-Education phase is followed by Credentialization. While you’re learning to develop solid foundational and function-specific skills, it's important to culminate in credentialization (i.e., cybersecurity certification). These credentials are the reason you can take advantage of a wide range of training options.

Recruiters and hiring managers won’t have to make an assessment of the specific learning path you took. They can make an assessment of the certifications you achieved instead. While this is not perfect, it better allows them to make an apple-to-apples comparison between candidates.

For example, as a hiring manager I may not have heard of the cyber bootcamp a candidate attended, but I know the body of knowledge to expect from the holder of a certification like CompTIA Security+. By following your Self-Education with Credentialization, you can take advantage of the learning path that best suits your needs and circumstances.