Are Cybersecurity Bootcamps Worth It? Outcomes, Costs, and Salaries

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Key takeaways:

  • Cybersecurity bootcamps offer a flexible option for anyone looking to break into cyber security

  • Hiring managers hold cyber security bootcamps in high regard

  • Self-teaching is also a viable option, but requires a lot of research to ensure you're learning the right thing

  • Self-teaching might not be acceptable experience to hiring managers

  • Cybersecurity jobs are both in high-demand and high-paid

  • Bootcamps are not cheap, but are worthwhile given the potential salary you can earn

  • Many bootcamps offer flexible payment options to meet your needs

  • Cybersecurity bootcamps are a good option — and are often well worth it — for anyone looking to improve their future through education

Cyber security students learning at Flatiron School

Before embarking down the path of becoming a cyber security analyst or engineer, you must ask yourself, “is this worth it?” Will the upfront cost be worth the potential payoff? 

It’s a hard question, and one that require a lot of research. To help, we breakdown cyber security boot camp costs, return on investments, and salaries to help you decide if a bootcamp is right for you.

Why might attending a cyber security bootcamp be worth it?

For starters, there is an increased demand for security in the digital space. With headlines like the U.S. Federal Government breach in 2020, cyber security is both top of mind and more important than ever.

As more businesses have taken their services online so too has the threat of cyber-attacks increased. This increase is certainly not a bad thing for the cyber professional workforce, though — the cyber field is projected to grow 31% from 2021 – 2029. The U.S. cyber industry also has a projected value of $250 billion by 2023

An instructor teaches a student cyber security.

What is a cybersecurity bootcamp?

Cybersecurity bootcamps are courses offered full-time or part-time that teach students the necessary technical skills (and soft skills) or certifications needed to land a cyber security job.

Boot camps are short and intense – often completed in 12-14 weeks as opposed to a four-year degree in a similar area of study. These programs equip students with the fundamental skills needed in information technology security. They are designed to prepare you to identify, prevent, and resolve corporate data breaches and cyber security incidents. These boot camps also focus on hands-on learning with a priority on skills over theory – often taught in traditional learning programs. 

Different bootcamps have different concentrations, but most aim to prepare you for multiple cyber roles: cyber security analyst, compliance analyst, threat intel analyst, penetration tester or ethical hacker, cyber security engineer, system security administrator, information systems security manager, and cyber security consultant.

The current cyber security landscape:

The largest concentration of cybersecurity professionals is in New York, Dallas, and Washington D.C.

According to ZipRecruiter, the national average salary for security analysts in the USA is $100k. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2019 median pay was also $100k. For entry-level security analysts, that number is around $83k on ZipRecruiter.

As with any job, these numbers can also vary based on location and experience.

Like with many information technology fields, cyber security is both future-proof and high-paying. According to the BLS, information security analyst jobs are expected to grow by 31% between 2019 and 2029.  ZipRecruiter offers salaries for almost any location, so we recommend checking out the location that interests you the most. 

What should I consider when deciding on a cyber security bootcamp?

Cyber security boot camps are run differently than a typical college course program in a similar field. College programs typically provide you with a more philosophical education while bootcamps focused on hands-on experience and skill development. The same goes for coding bootcamps and data science bootcamps.

Because they’re shorter and more rigorous than your typical college path, how familiar you’re expected to be with cyber security topics before the bootcamp begins can vary. Some bootcamps teach as if you have no experience at all, while others might assume a familiarity in some topics. Others might expect you to complete pre-work before the bootcamp begins. For example, at Flatiron School, we encourage students to complete our prep work, or at least our introductory cybersecurity workshop.

This is something to consider when choosing a bootcamp. If you enter a cyber security bootcamp unprepared, it’s that much more likely you’ll have a bad experience, and attending will turn out not to be worth it.

When picking a bootcamp, research what’s expected of your before hand.

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Are there any admissions requirements? 

Yes, for the same reason some bootcamps expect you to prepare for the course with pre-work, there are admissions requirements for getting accepted into cyber security bootcamps. Again, though, this varies by bootcamp.

The thinking goes: if you’re not passionate about learning cyber security and committed to learning, a bootcamp’s rigor could be, well, too rigorous. Admissions teams are looking for your commitment to learning.

Bootcamps aren’t easy, but you get out of them what you put into them. If you commit yourself to learning and to diligence, your experience will be well worth it — you’ll graduate a well-versed, knowledgeable and ready cyber security expert. You’ll also be a no-brainer higher for cyber companies.

There are a few ways bootcamps ensure that they only admit students passionate about learning: they can require certain prep work, require essays, are ask applicants to pass a cultural or technical exam as part of their admissions process.

If you don’t commit the time necessary to learn a lot in a very short time, you might graduate, but you might not be at the expert level you need to be at in order to get hired. And if you’re not hired, then the bootcamp experience will indeed have not been worth it.

Think long and hard about why you want to enter the cyber space. Consider your career and salary goals, too. When you have that vision in your head and keep your eyes on the prize, working hard comes easier.

We suggest preparing yourself the best you can with free introductory courses regardless of whether or not a bootcamp requires you to do so before starting class.

Are there career services?

Unlike a traditional college information technology or computer science program, many — though not all — bootcamps offer career services to help you land a job after you graduate. In our experience, if a bootcamp doesn’t offer career services, then find a bootcamp that does. 

Career services are an invaluable value that the best bootcamps provide for their students. Many people pay thousands of dollars for a career coach alone — the best cybersecurity programs have that coaching built into their tuition. 

When you enroll in a bootcamp, you’re paying for a new career, not just to learn cyber security skills. It’s only natural that you have some guidance finding a job after graduation.

The best career services will help you build your resume, perfect your portfolio, practice interviewing, and learn how to market yourself while staying true to your skills and values.

Robust, comprehensive, personalized career services goes a long way toward helping you leverage and showcase the skills you worked so hard to learn, and are a critical component of making your bootcamp experience worth it.

how to pay for a coding bootcamp infographic

How much do cyber security bootcamps cost?

Cyber bootcamp tuitions vary by course discipline and location. Bootcamps that focus more on analytics and less on technical skills — and prepare you for analyst roles — tend to be slightly cheaper than more technical bootcamps — the bootcamps that prepare you to become a pen tester or network security engineer.

Cyber bootcamps are usually around 12-15 weeks to complete, and the best cyber bootcamps typically cost between $15k and $20k. 

Further reading: How to Pay for a Coding Bootcamp

Screenshot of Tableau certification website

Will I get certified after graduating from a cyber security bootcamp? 

Certifications vary and the practical skills learned in a bootcamp are often more important than the certification.

If you’re looking to add a certification, we typically recommend starting with the Sec+ certification.

Once you've started your career, if you'd like to start down a path into a specific cyber concentration, then you'll want to pursue other certifications.

  1. Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification, or CISSP, is the most in-demand professional certification

  2. The second most crucial professional certification is the Certified Information Security Manager certification (CISM)

  3. CISA certification is the third most sought-after professional qualification for cyber security positions.

What will you learn in a cyber security Bootcamp?

In a cyber security bootcamp, you will learn a mix of technical skills as well as practical soft skills to apply directly to your future career. There are a variety of different bootcamps spanning different topics. They are also available both in person or remotely.

A chart showing the most popular languages in cyber security. JavaScript is the most popular, follinwed by Python, C/C++, PowerShell, Go, Ruby, Java, PHP, and Shell scripting.

What cyber security programming languages do bootcamps teach you?

Languages taught vary by bootcamp, but many teach you some combination of JavaScript, Golang, C/C++, and Python. We suggest reading up about which cyber security languages are used for what roles and selecting a bootcamp that teaches the skills aligned with your goals.

The pros & cons of cyber security bootcamps

Pros of cyber security bootcamps

  • You’ll learn the skills employers are looking for

  • You’ll be held accountable for your work and progress

  • Classes embrace collaboration and working with others

  • Advisors and instructors are always available to help you when you’re stuck

  • You’ll be on a strict schedule to ensure you stay on target

  • Career services are available at the best bootcamps so you execute a smart job search

  • You’ll graduate with a full portfolio to show employers

  • Lots of hands-on experience means you’ll be ready to contribute on day one

  • Many bootcamps focus on “learning how to learn,” so you’ll continue to improve as your career progresses

Cons of cyber security bootcamps

  • Bootcamps are more expensive than teaching yourself

  • And they’re hard and rigorous. If you’re not committed, you’ll fall behind

  • It’s harder to change your learning pace or style once you’ve committed to a class, tough many bootcamps are aware of this issue and provide flexibility

Further reading: Coding Bootcamps vs. College

What does a career in cyber look like?

Cyber security professionals are paid very well, and average higher salaries than most tech roles throughout the US.

According to ZipRecruiter, the national average salary for security analysts in the USA is $100k. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2019 median pay was also $100k. For entry-level security analysts, that number is around $83k on ZipRecruiter. Being a Cyber Security professional requires a strong mix of hard and soft skills as these folks are often tasked with implementing techniques to keep their company safe from threats as well as educating the rest of the company on how to comply with best practices. 

A few example cyber security roles include:

Pen Tester

Penetration Testers or Pen Testers help businesses resolve security vulnerabilities through ethical hacking and testing weaknesses in current systems. Some work for specialized firms with offer pen testing services to external clients. Further reading: How to Become a Pen Tester

  • Pen Tester Salary – the average salary is $116,323 according to ZipRecruiter. 

SOC Analyst

Security Operations Center Analysts are similar to cyber security analysts in that they are the first to respond to cyber incidents and implement changes to protect their business or clients. Further reading: How to Become a Cyber Security Analyst

  • SOC Analyst Salary – the average salary is $96,811 according to ZipRecruiter.

Threat Intel Analyst

Threat Intel Analysts are looking for threats and capturing intelligence surrounding potential cyber threats. Further reading: How to Become a Threat Intelligence Analyst

  • Threat Intel Analyst Salary – the average salary is $100,324 according to ZipRecruiter.

Graphic showing where cyber analysts fit in the cyber security field. There are more senior than techinicans and investigators, but less senior than administrators, engineers, and architects.

Security Consultant

Security Consultants consult – meaning they all security measures in place for a business or their clients and make recommendations on how to prevent potential breaches by establishing preemptive security measures. Further reading: How to Become a Cyber Security Consultant

  • Security Consultant Salary – the average salary is $115,767 according to ZipRecruiter.

Compliance Analyst

Compliance Analysts work to ensure that a business’s operations and procedures meet government and industry compliance standards. They typically apply for certification on behalf of their business or client. Further reading: How to Become a Compliance Analyst

  • Compliance Analyst Salary – the average salary is $62,675 according to ZipRecruiter.

Cybersecurity bootcamps: What are my options?

We recommend trying your hand in the cyber space before committing fully to a cyber security bootcamp. This way you’ll know if cyber is right for you, and you’ll be more confident once you do enroll in your full-time course.

Here are a few helpful introductory cyber security courses available before diving headfirst into full-time bootcamps. 

Once you’re ready to commit to your future career, there are some great in-person and online options for you. We list those below.

The best in-person cyber security courses to change your career

SecureSet
  • The CORE cyber security Bootcamp offered by Secureset is a 20-week program consisting of 400 instruction hours and 400 Lab hours. The program is offered in Colorado Springs and Denver, Colorado.

  • Some areas of learning during the program: Network Security, Security Culture, System Security, and Threat Intelligence to name a few. 

  • SecureSet is a part of Flatiron School

Flatiron School’s Cybersecurity Engineering 
  • The cyber security engineering program offered by Flatiron School can be completed in as little as 15 weeks. It is designed for students with a technical background to help start a career in cyber security engineering and launch you into the forefront of global tech growth.

  • This program is offered in person and online. As mentioned earlier, this program is more technical than the analytics course and is more in line with pen testers.

Are cyber security bootcamps worth it?

Cyber security bootcamps are worth it if you want to change your career and are willing to work hard. Bootcamps are expensive, but many of the best bootcamps offer tuition flexibility and different payment options. 

As we mentioned earlier, you get out of a cyber security bootcamp what you put into it. Diligence, confidence, and perseverance are all important in a bootcamp because bootcamps are tough and rigorous. But if you do commit to learning and keep your eye on the prize, there is no better and more efficient way to start a cyber security career than to attend a cyber security bootcamp.

All in all, cyber security bootcamps are worth it if it is the right choice for your career goals and development. This industry is rapidly growing so the investment is worth it when you land that first job following completion of the program. 

Headshot of Katie Gillen

Katie Gillen

Writer

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