The Best Cybersecurity Bootcamps
| Holland Webb Modified on March 22, 2022
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Data is incredibly valuable for many companies, who need skilled computer information and security professionals to protect it. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects computer and information technology jobs to grow by 11% from 2019-2029.
Professionals seeking entry-level jobs in the fast-growing cybersecurity field can start by attending bootcamps. These programs typically last about six months and cost much less than college degrees. Graduates with certificates from well-connected bootcamps can pursue lucrative cybersecurity roles.
The rankings in this guide can help aspiring professionals begin their search for the right bootcamp.
What Top-Ranked Cybersecurity Bootcamp Programs Have in Common
Bootcamps vary in curriculum, length, delivery, and quality, but many of the top cybersecurity bootcamps share several characteristics:
- Cybersecurity focus
- While general coding bootcamps continue to increase across the country, cybersecurity-specific programs offer targeted curricula in high-growth fields. Many programs in our rankings operate like general coding camps. Some, such as Warner Pacific's sourceU program, focus exclusively on cybersecurity.
- Financial aid
- In addition to tuition rates, prospective learners should consider whether prospective schools offer financial aid opportunities, accept funds from the GI Bill®, and provide payment plans, like the University of California, Los Angeles.
- Job placement assistance
- Job placement assistance can include one-on-one support, portfolio assistance, and mock interviews. Some institutions, like the Flatiron School, offer money-back guarantees for graduates who do not land jobs within a year of graduation.
- CIRR member or university-affiliated
- Universities demonstrate validity by holding accreditation through agencies overseen by the Department of Education or Council on Higher Education Accreditation. However, accreditation does not apply to bootcamps. Instead, member programs report to the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR), which measures student outcomes.
What Is a Cybersecurity Bootcamp?
Cybersecurity bootcamp enrollees complete intensive training programs. Students typically use this experience to launch themselves into new careers in cybercrime prevention and investigation. Cybersecurity bootcamps last 10-30 weeks, offering online and in-person formats.
Cybersecurity bootcamps fall under the umbrella of coding bootcamps but focus more on information security topics. These programs differ from associate and bachelor's degrees by requiring far less time and focusing exclusively on coding. Bootcamps rarely provide academic credit.
Growth and Popularity of Cybersecurity Bootcamps
The first coding bootcamps began in 2012, with 2,000 people completing programs that year.
In 2016, cybersecurity bootcamp graduates made up just 1% of the total number of bootcamp graduates. Yet, as cybersecurity assumes a more critical role in the technology field, those figures are likely to increase.
According to research from Course Report, 23,000 people graduated from coding bootcamps in 2019. The availability of bootcamps, coupled with their affordable rates and accelerated timelines, continues to draw interest from prospective students.
Common Cybersecurity Bootcamp Courses
Cybersecurity bootcamps teach students information security theories, tools, and tactics. In some courses, learners advance their skills with popular security tools like Metasploit, Nessus, Wireshark, or Kali Linux.
Other courses introduce students to cryptography, security engineering, or cloud security. Each cybersecurity bootcamp offers a different curriculum, but common classes include:
- Risk Assessment: This course covers the key principles of cybersecurity risk and impacts. Students learn the three components of risk management: analysis, assessment, and mitigation. Learners also study quantitative and qualitative frameworks for performing risk analysis. The course concludes with a unit on the relationship between business value and IT risk.
- Ethical Hacking: Students explore ethical hacking and website functionality. They learn about hacking wireless and wired networks, along with identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities. The course provides a brief introduction to 30-plus hacking tools, including Metasploit, Aircrack-ng, and SQLmap. After the course, students should know how to launch cyberattacks and detect undetectable malware.
- Threat Modeling: This course focuses on building more secure products from the ground up. Students learn to apply various methodologies and consider the pros and cons of each method.
- Incident Response: In this advanced digital forensics course, enrollees learn to detect breaches, identify damaged systems, and perform assessments to determine losses and modifications. The course also explores containing and addressing security breaches.
- Vulnerability Scanning: Vulnerability scanning offers an affordable alternative to penetration testing that allows organizations to spot security weaknesses. In this course, students examine common vulnerabilities, learn when to scan, and consider common protocols.
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Skills and Topics Covered in the Best Cybersecurity Courses
Cybersecurity bootcamps teach many skills and topics, including coding languages. Each program establishes its curriculum. Some bootcamps emphasize specific topics.
- Python: Students learn the ins and outs of Python, one of the world's most common programming languages. Specifically, learners study how to use Python to build security analysis tools. Enrollees typically do not need prior Python knowledge to enter cybersecurity bootcamps.
- Cryptography: Cryptography builds secure systems by protecting data integrity, confidentiality, and immutability. Cryptographic algorithms ensure that unauthorized users cannot access the data without the key. The three main types of cryptography include the secret key, the public key, and the hash functions.
- Risk Management: Risk management involves identifying vulnerabilities to take appropriate action in preventing or reducing risk and solving potential problems. Within cybersecurity, risk management can include technology infrastructures that protect valuable assets such as corporate or customer data.
- Penetration Testing: Sometimes referred to as "ethical hacking," penetration testing refers to the work of paid hackers who attempt to discover vulnerabilities by imitating cybercriminals' methods. Penetration testing aims to prevent attacks by identifying the cracks in a system that a hacker could exploit.
- Forensics: In the cybersecurity landscape, investigators use forensics to detect, recover, and preserve digital evidence, usually as part of civil or criminal investigations. Digital forensic specialists may look for evidence or discover portals through which cybercriminals enter company databases.
How Much Does a Cybersecurity Bootcamp Cost?
The cost of attending a cybersecurity bootcamp varies with program location, reputation, length, and delivery method. Generally, prospective students should budget $12,000-$20,000 for tuition costs. Learners may also need to pay registration fees or take prep courses before enrolling.
In addition, many bootcamps charge for equipment and course materials. Students need high-powered laptops and fast internet connections, along with books and other required materials. Students who live in different cities from their bootcamps must also consider housing, transportation, and meal expenses. Fortunately, scholarships and corporate grants can help lower the overall cost of bootcamps.
What Can I Do After Completing a Cybersecurity Bootcamp?
Cybersecurity bootcamps offer many professional benefits, including opportunities to pursue lucrative, in-demand careers. After graduation, students can continue their education at the graduate or undergraduate levels or pursue employment as security assessors, testers, or specialists.
Popular Cybersecurity Careers
Cybersecurity bootcamps can open the door to exciting technical careers with annual average salaries of over $70,000 per year. Graduates can work in security assessment, software development, analysis, and forensics.
Vulnerability assessors conduct security audits to identify flaws and weaknesses in companies' cybersecurity firewalls during system setups. After conducting audits, vulnerability assessors prepare and present reports detailing their findings. They also make recommendations for improving operating system security.
These professionals look for flaws in cybersecurity systems. Unlike vulnerability assessors, penetration testers focus on established systems instead of new ones. Bootcamps and certification programs can help professionals gain skills for this job. Bachelor's degrees can prepare penetration testers for higher-level responsibilities.
Security specialists help companies protect their data. These professionals run regular checks on security systems and remain up-to-date on necessary improvements. Since most of these jobs require knowledge of programming languages, employers may require candidates with degrees.
Incident responder roles vary with experience and employer. Typically, however, these professionals identify risks, detect intrusions, and perform forensic activities. They may also develop security protocols and train organizational leaders and staff in effective incident response. In addition to attending bootcamps, incident responders may need graduate degrees in cybersecurity.
Security managers often oversee teams of cybersecurity analysts and other personnel. Their roles focus more on management tasks like hiring, training, supervising, and coaching employees. This career requires both management skills and technical knowledge.
Additional Cybersecurity Education
Cybersecurity professionals can benefit from any level of higher education in the field. Bootcamps provide current skills and knowledge, but degrees offer credibility for professionals. Formal education can lead to increased salaries, more career opportunities, and new certification options.
- Associate Degree in Cybersecurity: Students seeking entry-level careers in cybersecurity can start with two-year associate degrees. This degree prepares graduates to take professional certification exams and pursue bachelor's degrees in cybersecurity. Learn more about Associate Degrees.
- Bachelor's Degree in Cybersecurity: Bachelor's degrees in cybersecurity, computer science, information technology, and information security usually require four years of full-time study. Learners study topics like cryptography, AI, ethical hacking, and forensics. Applicants need a high school diploma or equivalent. Learn more about Bachelor's Degrees.
- Master's Degree in Cybersecurity: Master's degrees in cybersecurity take 2-3 years to complete. Students expand upon the general knowledge gained in undergraduate programs and sharpen technical skills through practical work. Learn more about Master's Degrees.
- Ph.D. in Cybersecurity: A Ph.D. in cybersecurity represents the culmination of 2-3 years of rigorous doctoral coursework and research. Although challenging, doctoral degrees can lead to top-level roles in the field. Learn more about Doctorate Degrees.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is studying cybersecurity hard?
Like other STEM fields, cybersecurity requires dedication, discipline, and hard work to master. However, nearly any motivated student can learn cybersecurity.
Do you need programming for cybersecurity?
What certifications should I get for cybersecurity?
When changing jobs or transitioning to new roles, cybersecurity specialists need more than degrees. They also need up-to-date security certifications from reputable, third-party organizations accredited by CompTIA, EC Council, GIAC, ISACA, or (ISC)2.
Does cybersecurity pay well?
Yes. According to PayScale, the average cybersecurity analyst earns more than $76,000 per year. The highest-paying jobs in cybersecurity pay well over $100,000 annually.
Is a cybersecurity bootcamp worth it?
Cybersecurity bootcamps can offer a timely and affordable path to lucrative careers in a fast-growing industry. Bootcamps can lay the groundwork for entry-level tech careers. Graduates with backgrounds in information science and technology may pursue higher-level cybersecurity roles.
Best Cybersecurity Bootcamps
Our bootcamp rankings provide a starting point for researching the best cybersecurity programs. The information below details the factors we used to determine our top 10 bootcamp rankings.
Our Bootcamp Ranking Methodology
In compiling our list of the top 10 best cybersecurity bootcamps, we considered costs in our ranking methodology. Programs with lower costs earned higher ranking scores.
We also weighed each program's cost at 45% of its total score. Job placement assistance contributed another 35% to each bootcamp's ranking. CIRR membership accounted for 20% of each program's ranking.
We did not consider the bootcamp delivery method. Some of the following cybersecurity bootcamps provide an in-person experience, while others feature online or hybrid delivery.
Based on the ranking methodology outlined above, the following 10 cybersecurity bootcamps made our list of the best programs.
Location: Los Angeles, CA | CIRR Member: No | Starting cost: $11,995
As a part of the University of California System, UCLA Extension offers weekend, evening, and intensive programs. In addition to its virtual offerings, the school provides educational programs in 10 cities across Southern California.
UCLA Extension Coding Bootcamps
Students in the UCLA Extension cybersecurity bootcamp spend 24 weeks studying IT, networking, and information security. This online, part-time program comprises six modules, including security fundamentals, defensive security, and offensive security. It concludes with a final group project. Coursework provides students with experience using tools such as Metasploit, Nessus, Wireshark, and Kali Linux.
Upon completing the bootcamp, learners can take assessments for the CompTIA Security+ and certified ethical hacker designations.
UCLA Extension Coding Bootcamps Job Placement Assistance
The school offers a dedicated career services team, which provides one-on-one coaching, portfolio review, and mock interview sessions. This team can help students graduate from bootcamps with employer-ready resumes.
Location: Austin, TX | CIRR Member: No | Starting cost: $12,495
Home to more than 51,000 students and 3,000 teaching faculty, UT Austin offers top-ranked academic programs across many educational areas. The school is known for its competitive sports teams and an alumni base of about 482,000 people.
The Cybersecurity Boot Camp at UT Austin
Students can begin UT Austin's part-time cybersecurity program on one of four annual start dates. The camp runs for 24 weeks, during which students take classes on two weeknights and Saturdays. Class topics include cryptography, cloud security, risk management, and secure network design and architecture.
Students also take courses in scripting and ethical hacking. Graduates can pursue careers in digital forensics, pen testing, or security analytics.
The Cybersecurity Boot Camp at UT Austin Job Placement Assistance
The dedicated job placement team at UT Austin offers portfolio reviews, virtual tech panels, technical interview training, and one-on-one coaching to improve soft skills for the real world.
Location: St. Louis, MO | CIRR Member: No | Starting cost: $11,995
Founded in 1853, Washington University in St. Louis educates nearly 16,000 students from more than 100 countries and all 50 states. This private, secular research institution awards degrees at all levels. Washington University also offers educational experiences for working professionals.
Washington University Cybersecurity Boot Camp
Washington University's 24-week, part-time cybersecurity bootcamp provides training in foundational cybersecurity skills, including networking, programming, and ethical hacking and penetration.
Graduates can identify suspicious bots and malicious actors, investigate cloud security risks, write Bash scripts to automate security, and conduct vulnerability assessments. Classes meet for 10 hours each week: three hours each on two weeknights, plus four hours on Saturdays.
Washington University Cybersecurity Boot Camp Job Placement Assistance
Trilogy Education supports Washington University's bootcamp with career directors and profile coaches. With help from these two professionals, students complete a series of career readiness milestones.
Location: Belmont, CA | CIRR Member: No | Starting cost: $12,995
A public research university founded in 1868 in Berkeley, California, UC Berkeley is the oldest institution in the University of California system. The school educates more than 43,000 students annually through over 300 graduate and undergraduate programs.
Berkeley Cybersecurity Boot Camp
This part-time, 24-week cybersecurity bootcamp teaches students IT, networking, and contemporary information security. If learners need additional cybersecurity experience before beginning the program, then they can complete a pre-camp experience. During the program, students learn cybersecurity fundamentals and tools.
Students gain real-world skills and knowledge through practical experience under the guidance of seasoned instructors.
Berkeley Cybersecurity Bootcamp Job Placement Assistance
Berkeley provides students with a career services team. This team comprises a director, who helps students navigate the job search process, and a portfolio manager, who provides feedback on job search materials.
Location: Scottsdale, AZ | CIRR Member: No | Starting cost: $13,200
Created in 2017 by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, for-profit enterprise Woz U provides three technical education models for students, higher education institutions, and companies. Located in Scottsdale, Arizona, Woz U partners with school districts, colleges, and companies around the country.
Cybersecurity Training Program Online
Woz U's cybersecurity training program takes less than eight months to complete through a "Powered by Woz U Partner." To begin the program, each prospective student needs a CompTIA Network+ or equivalent certification or must pass a readiness test. After gaining admission, learners take 10 courses, including security foundations, network defense, and cryptography.
The program concludes with a collaborative group project on cybersecurity analysis. Upon finishing their training, students earn diplomas or certificates through partner institutions.
Cybersecurity Training Program Online Job Placement Assistance
Woz U offers a robust career services program. Each student receives a dedicated career coach and assistance in building a professional portfolio to showcase their real-world technical skills and experience.
Location: Eugene, OR | CIRR Member: No | Starting cost: $11,495
This public university, founded in 1876, sits along the Willamette River in Eugene, Oregon, where it serves about 23,000 students through 316 academic programs, five colleges, and seven professional schools.
University of Oregon Cybersecurity Bootcamp
The school's 24-week cybersecurity program requires students to meet three days a week during evenings and weekends. Applicants without cybersecurity backgrounds can take pre-course tutorials to prepare for the bootcamp.
Once enrolled, students gain fundamental knowledge and practical training in databases, systems, networking, web technologies, and defensive and offensive cybersecurity. Enrollees also participate in labs, traditional instruction, and online panels as part of their educational experience.
University of Oregon Cybersecurity Bootcamp Job Placement Assistance
One-on-one career coaching with a career director provides each learner with opportunities to present their knowledge, skills, and accomplishments to future employers.
Location: Salt Lake City, UT | CIRR Member: Yes/No | Starting cost: $12,495
This public research university serves more than 32,000 students annually. The school participates in NCAA Division I athletics with a mascot known as "The Swoop."
The part-time cybersecurity program takes six months to complete. Each student commits to 10 hours of work each week to comprise 240 lecture and lab hours, with another 20 hours of project work.
Courses meet on two weekday evenings and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Course topics include network theory, vulnerability assessment, Python programming, and penetration testing. Graduates can take exams for Security+, Network+, and CISSP certifications.
Cybersecurity Bootcamp Job Placement Assistance
The University of Utah offers career services, including mentorship, career coaching, and assistance with building professional portfolios.
Location: New York, NY | CIRR Member: No | Starting cost: $16,900
Founded in 2012, the Flatiron School offers an alternative education model for students wishing to accrue technical skills.
Flatiron School Cybersecurity Engineering
Students can complete Flatiron's 480-hour program in cybersecurity engineering in either a full- or part-time format. A combination of synchronous lectures and independent learning makes the program convenient for working professionals. The curriculum includes eight foundational courses, such as hunting skills, threat intelligence, and strategy and analysis.
Graduates can compete for jobs as threat intel analysts, security consultants, tier 1+ SOC analysts, and compliance analysts.
Flatiron School Cybersecurity Engineering Job Placement Assistance
Flatiron's career support offerings include individual career coaching, a large employer network, and a proven job-search framework, along with a money-back guarantee for graduates who do not find employment.
Location: Indianapolis, IN | CIRR Member: Yes | Starting cost: $18,000
Inventor and entrepreneur Scott A. Jones launched Eleven Fifty Academy in 2014 with a $2 million grant from his foundation. The name Eleven Fifty comes from the address of Jones' former home. The academy holds recognition as a registered software development apprenticeship program, and it can accept funds from the GI Bill® for veterans.
Eleven Fifty Academy offers full-time and part-time cybersecurity bootcamps. The full-time camp lasts 14 weeks, while the part-time program requires 24 weeks of study. Applicants to either program are not required to hold coding experience, but they may find it helpful once courses begin.
Learners study industry terms, common threat behaviors, and the enterprise SOC environment. Graduates receive CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+ certifications after passing exams.
Eleven Fifty Academy Cybersecurity Bootcamp Job Placement Assistance
Within 60 days of graduation, 80% of students receive job offers with an average starting salary of $55,000. The career support team matches graduates with companies in the Eleven Fifty network.
Location: Portland, OR | CIRR Member: No | Starting cost: $18,900
A Christian, private liberal arts college located in Oregon, Warner Pacific University partnered with Portland's leading technology educators to create sourceU. In this program, students complete accelerated degrees from regionally accredited colleges. Learners generally study from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. for five days each week in a workday-style environment.
sourceU offers a one-year certificate, a 16-month associate degree, and a 32-month bachelor's degree in cybersecurity. In these programs, students learn to analyze, react, and adapt to security concerns.
Applicants do not need previous knowledge or skills in technology to achieve success in these programs. sourceU offers competitive tuition, supported by robust financial aid packages.
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