Cybersecurity Bootcamps: High-Intensity Training for a Career in IT Security

If you’re looking to fast-track your way into the world of cybersecurity, an intensive bootcamp will put you through the paces and spit you out on the other side ready for a career in information security in less time than you might have thought possible.

Bootcamps in the world of information technology stop just short of being as brutal and intense as the name implies, but just like new recruit training, they do specialize in throwing a lot of new information at a lot of people in a short period of time. They embrace the assembly line model of education, and the line doesn’t stop for slow learners. It takes focus, and you’ll have to absorb a lot of new concepts quickly to keep up. The end results are well worth it.

Along the way, you’ll interact with experienced cybersecurity professionals and form strong ties with classmates, the likes of which can only come from sharing the kind of intensive experience that a bootcamp delivers.

At a fraction of the time and expense it takes to earn a degree, you can get a highly targeted crash-course in information security that aligns exactly with industry demands, often with a project-oriented curriculum that gives you hands-on experience. And, in a lot of cases, you’ll come out with the knowledge you need to take and pass an IT security certification exam, giving you a widely recognized credential that can do a lot for your career prospects, and your salary potential.



Bootcamps Deliver Training for Students and Professionals at Every Stage of Career Prep and Advancement

You’ll find cybersecurity bootcamps aimed at just about every possible skill level and designed for all different types of positions in the industry. From high school grads that spent more time studying the ways of cybersecurity wizardry on the Del their parents bought than they did on their English homework, to mid-career, master’s-prepared industry professionals looking to pick up a new cert.

You’ll find bootcamps that are organized around topics like:

  • Foundational security concepts and detection skills
  • Specific security industry certifications and credentials
  • Penetration testing
  • Forensic analysis

With even basic IT and security protocol knowledge, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a bootcamp that will meet your needs, regardless of which of these groups you fall into.

High School Graduates

It’s not unheard of to get a job in information security without a college degree, but that’s not the same as getting a position without having an education—you will definitely need to pick up knowledge and skills somewhere, and a boot camp could well be that place.

Employers definitely value well-rounded job candidates coming out of bachelor’s programs, but if you intend to live, eat, and breathe information security, a boot camp could be your ticket to getting into a career without getting buried in student debt and mired in four years of full-time college curriculum, about half of which you don’t even need to do the job.

Current Cybersecurity Professionals Seeking Advancement in the Industry

No one has to tell cybersecurity pros that the field changes quickly. It’s a constant arms race between attackers and security teams, and one side never sleeps. That’s why it’s important to keep your skills current, and a boot camp can help you with that, offering up-to-date, practical training in elements of the field that you may have missed if you’ve been focused on another specialization, or simply haven’t had the time to pick up yet. The fast-paced, time-compressed nature of bootcamps makes them perfect for getting you up to speed again.

IT Professionals Looking to Make a Career Change

Other IT professionals realize they missed their true calling and should be working in cybersecurity instead. Although the two fields have some broadly overlapping skillsets, the high degree of specialization in cybersecurity demands additional training. IT experience offers a solid foundation for this, and a boot camp can build on that foundation quickly and inexpensively to lay pavement for a fast and affordable career change.

Preparing for a Graduate Degree

A master’s degree is the key to the high-level positions available in cybersecurity research and development found in government, academia, and private enterprise. As a rigorous, formal type of education, it’s night and day from the fast-paced, practical bootcamp approach, but a bootcamp can be the perfect way to get ready for a hardcore master’s program. Boot camps can get you up to speed quickly in aspects of cybersecurity you might not otherwise be familiar with, and demonstrate commitment and skill to admissions committees overseeing the competitive master’s application process.

Cybersecurity Bootcamp Basics

Even with providers offering bootcamps for very specific types of students, they’re often better at developing their curriculums than their marketing material, resulting in some hazy information on certain basic elements like whether or not the program is available online, what’s required to get into a given program, and how the cost compares to other options.

The good news is that those basic elements aren’t that complicated, and aren’t all that different from one bootcamp to the next offering the same type of training at the same level. That makes it pretty painless to size up a

bootcamp based on these common attributes:

Scheduling

Although online options are now widely available in the post-pandemic world, fundamental to the bootcamp experience is that they are held during a fixed period of time and usually in a fixed location for a limited number of students. So even the online options are going to follow a synchronous schedule where you meet up in a virtual classroom at a pre-determined time. If you’re looking for the kind of online program that lets you tackle course content on your own time, then you better keep looking because a bootcamp isn’t for you.

But bootcamp providers know their client demographic, and they do work to cater to their scheduling needs in a general sense. More and more, bootcamps are being offered after hours or on weekends to accommodate students with full-time jobs, but the traditional immersive bootcamp doesn’t necessarily make this kind of concession.

No matter how the schedule is built, you will need to be prepared to attend all day each day of the session. In a fast-paced and immersive program like this, instructors aren’t going to catch you up. If you miss something, it could be the domino that ends up toppling the entire program for you.

Location and Availability

Competition can be fierce to join a cohort for a particularly popular bootcamp. Plan to book well ahead and ensure that you have the ability to attend full-time during the course period.

Focus your search on programs located close to home. Even with programs making the transition online, they are still very often offered only to state residents or within a broader region, but unlike most online education options, they’re not going to be open to students coast to coast. There’s good reason for that. With programs designed to meet the very specific needs of the big industries in their area, and often providing a pipeline for employers to recruit straight from the program, the curriculum is built around the specific needs of those industries and the systems those companies use.

Entry Requirements

Entry level bootcamps are just that. They literally require nothing more than for students to be at least 18 years old and to hold a high school diploma or GED. No degree, no experience, no certification, just a lot of drive and the discipline it takes to show up early every day and stay focused.

Most cybersecurity bootcamps are relatively short and have a highly focused curriculum, which means they don’t have a lot of time for handholding to get candidates up to speed on the basics of the underlying technologies. This means that many bootcamps have similar entry requirements. Even early career bootcamps come with some pretty substantial expectations of what you need to know on day one. These typically include:

  • 1 – 5 years of IT industry experience
  • Basic TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) networking skills
  • Basic IT certifications such as the A+ or Network+

For more advanced camps, a basic understanding of these topics may be required for enrollment:

  • Network and port scanning
  • Log review and analysis
  • Network traffic monitoring and packet analysis
  • Web protocol structure such as HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) and FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
  • Knowledge of scripting or programming languages such as Python, Java, or Perl
  • Advanced IT or cybersecurity certifications such as Security+ or CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate)

Cost

Cybersecurity camps are inexpensive compared to other types of IT bootcamps, running between $2,000 and $20,000 for the full program. This is in line with many continuing education courses of similar length offered in the IT industry.

That’s a big spread, though, and as you would imagine, basic options that run for a week are at the lower end of the spectrum with months-long programs for mid-career professionals take up the higher end.

The cost may or may not include the price of administering related certification exams, which some bootcamps offer at the conclusion of the course.

With more independent providers, and even major universities now getting in on the bootcamp game, pricing tends to stay pretty competitive. You’re not likely to find programs offering similar levels of training at drastically different price points.

What Cybersecurity Bootcamp Curriculum Covers

The curriculum will vary widely from program to program depending on the level of instruction and the focus of the camp. Moreover, since bootcamps pride themselves on keeping their training materials focused on the latest threats, trends, and techniques in the security industry, course contents change frequently. Cybersecurity is one of the fastest-evolving segments of a fast-expanding industry.

However, regardless of the level and the specific tools being taught, you can expect bootcamp curriculum to generally include topics that cover:

  • Underlying Platform Knowledge – Since you can’t secure a house if you don’t know where the doors and windows are at, most programs cover the rudimentary aspects of network and operating system construction and layout.
  • Intrusion Detection and Forensics – Tools to detect when systems are under attack and the methods and programs used to evaluate logs and other digital evidence is standard in any cybersecurity bootcamp.
  • Scripting and OS tools You can expect some light programming and scripting instruction for OS and device control and configuration.
  • Hacking tools – For both penetration testing and to understand the tools nefarious hackers are most likely to use, you can expect a solid introduction to modern hacking tools.
  • Security models Expect to be introduced to the essential structural components of a comprehensive security system.
  • Intelligence tools – Keeping an ear to the ground to stay aware of the latest threats and attack techniques is a constant challenge in cybersecurity, so intelligence gathering and security awareness techniques are usually taught.

Highly focused programs may eliminate some of those subjects in favor of greater specificity and concentrate on only one or a handful of them, however. In particular, some bootcamps are entirely oriented toward particular security industry certifications and will only teach what you can expect to find on the test for those certs.

Bootcamps vs. MOOCs: Weighing Your Options

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course, a concept that is being widely hailed as the future of online education. The first MOOCs appeared around the same time as the first bootcamps, and in response to the same voracious demand for easy access to up-to-date knowledge and training. But while bootcamps rose from industry veterans focused on delivering rapid, practical, hands-on education, MOOCs evolved from traditional college-level classes, designed to impart general knowledge and thinking skills as part of a broader educational experience.

MOOCs today have grown away from their collegiate origins, and can be found on every topic under the sun. Many are still offered through accredited institutions and are taught by full-fledged college professors, but more and more MOOCs are being offered through private vendors that hire experienced professionals in the field rather than college professors.

Particularly in cybersecurity, many MOOCs are focused narrowly on specific technologies or topics, or may be designed specifically around passing exams for popular information security certifications like the CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) or the CompTIA Security+ certificates.

This means MOOCs are a good fit for candidates who are looking to acquire industry-specific skills in more bite-sized chunks than bootcamp courses offer. Several different MOOCs can be strung together to form a customized curriculum that addresses specific gaps in knowledge. Some MOOC providers offer a certificate program or the ability to accumulate college credits that can be transferred toward an undergraduate or graduate degree.

Bootcamps, on the other hand, have a fixed curriculum that teaches to a particular standard. The skills tend to be hands-on and practical in nature. Many bootcamps put participants through actual simulated security response situations, or expect them to work directly with networked systems to lock them down against attacks. This is in sharp contrast to the more theoretical concepts that MOOCs tend to focus on.

Bootcamps also provide a much faster and more comprehensive education than MOOCs. A single MOOC might run for eight weeks and cover only a narrow subject, as is the case with this popular Coursera offering on mobility and cybersecurity. In contrast, a cybersecurity bootcamp will take only a week, and cover the entire spectrum of knowledge behind network security. A narrow exception to this general rule are bootcamps like the Training Camp’s ISACA CISA Certification courses that offer certification exam preparation in direct competition with some MOOCs.

Finally, bootcamps are typically on-site and in-person, as opposed to the distributed, online-only nature of MOOCs. This makes bootcamps a better fit for candidates who benefit from the team-based exercises and social nature of cohort-based education. It also provides more networking opportunities. Bootcamp participants meet a lot of people who are either already in the information security industry or on their way there—contacts that can be very valuable in future positions.

Our List of Recommendations for the Best Cybersecurity Bootcamps

Google your location and the phrase “security bootcamp” and you’ll find whatever programs did the best job of gaming the algorithm to get into the top ten search results. What you’re less likely to find, though, is a carefully curated list of options to shop and compare.

You can also find bootcamps listed on major review sites like Course Report and SwitchUp, together with open reviews from past students. But bootcamps disappear as fast as they appear, and many of the listings on such sites are for bootcamps that are no longer in operation… and they may not include some of the newest and hottest bootcamps that have yet to be reviewed.

To save you some trouble and a lot of time, we put together a list of bootcamp operators that we could feel good about recommending to our readers. We’ve left out the fly-by-night options that tend to pop and close quicker than the aggregators can update their websites and went only with respected operators we expect to be in it for the long haul, and to keep their curriculum current as the industry continues to evolve.

You’ll find a bifurcated list here with categories for each of the two main types of providers: 1) the traditional bootcamps offered by industry organizations and certifying agencies, many of which have been around since the term bootcamp was first coined; 2) big name universities that now offer cybersecurity bootcamps, backed by all the resources and experience in curriculum development and delivery that come with being in the education sphere for generations.

IT Industry Bootcamp Providers

The SANS Institute

SANS is one of the oldest information security training institutions in the United States. Founded in 1989, SANS provides a number of cybersecurity resources widely used in the community, including the Internet Storm Center, the SANS Reading Room security research white paper archive. SANS was also a founding sponsor of the Center for Internet Security.

SANS has the biggest network of training centers in the U.S. and provides the largest number of cybersecurity bootcamp courses by far—both in terms of enrollment and subject matter. The institute also founded and administers its own security certification track, the Global Information Assurance Certificates (GIAC), and many of its bootcamps are oriented toward preparing participants to pass GIAC certification tests.

  • Locations: Most major American cities, some international locations, and online
  • Admissions: Laptops required, otherwise class-dependent
  • Costs / Course Length: $3,000 – $7,000, class and options dependent
  • Notable Programs: Open-source Intelligence Gathering and Analysis
  • Certifications: Full spectrum of GIAC certifications

SecureNinja

SecureNinja is a cybersecurity training company founded in Virginia in 2003. The company maintains tight connections with various industry leaders like Microsoft and CompTIA and provides training for large corporations and government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense.

SecureNinja offers continuing education credits and has classes oriented toward preparing students for many popular information security certifications.

  • Locations: Alexandria, VA; Columbia, MD; Kettering, OH; San Diego, CA; and online
  • Admissions: Class-dependent
  • Costs / Course Length: 2 – 5 days, prices unpublished
  • Notable Programs: Advanced Cyberwar bootcamp
  • Certifications: A wide variety of industry-standard certifications from EC-Council, ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association), CompTIA, GIAC, and more.

InfoSec Institute

The InfoSec Institute was founded in the late 1990s, as widespread computer security problems began to emerge across the Internet. Based in Chicago, the company has spread out to locations on both coasts and elsewhere in the Midwest, and also offers classes online.

The company offers corporate training as well as bootcamps and supports a range of certification options. Some bootcamps offer dual certification options, allowing students to test for and acquire multiple certificates from one course.

  • Locations: Chicago, IL; Boston MA; Colorado Springs, CO; Baltimore, MD; Dulles, VA; and online
  • Admissions: Class-dependent
  • Costs / Course Length: 5 – 7 days, pricing not published
  • Notable Programs: Career track options, bundling several classes with additional support resources for hiring and research
  • Certifications: EC-Council, ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association), CompTIA, CERT (Computer Emergency Readiness Team), and others

ISACA

Formerly the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, ISACA is the elder statesmen among IT education and guidance organizations in the U.S., having been founded in 1969. The organization was originally focused strictly on IT governance issues but has broadened its range of information and services over the years to include many facets of IT operations, including information security processes.

Despite ISACA’s age, it is a relatively new entrant into the cybersecurity bootcamp market. The organization has long offered the coveted Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certifications, both of them notably stringent and highly valued by hiring managers. The company launched its CSX (Cybersecurity Nexus) program in 2014 with additional associated certifications and bootcamp training.

  • Locations: Chicago, IL; Washington, DC; New York, NY; Denver, CO; San Francisco, CA
  • Admissions: ISACA membership required, 1 – 5 years of IT industry experience required
  • Costs / Course Length: 5 days, prices unpublished
  • Notable Programs: CISM Bootcamp
  • Certifications: CSX Practitioner, CISA, CISM

Evolve Security Academy

Evolve runs a highly respected bootcamp program out of Chicago that has evolved to include online options. An apprenticeship program helps ease you into professional practice, while lab simulation and teamwork are stressed to build your skills along the way. Small cohort sizes make it practical for the Evolve gold-standard 1-on-1 competency assessments with instructors, so you never have to worry about getting left behind.

  • Locations: Chicago, Online
  • Admissions: Attitude and aptitude; however, suggested you have 1-3 years IT or dev experience, scripting familiarity, OS experience w/Windows and Linux, a bachelor’s degree or higher, and Network+, CCNA, Security+, CEH, or CISSP certification
  • Costs / Course Length: 16 weeks, part-time, $12,500 ($10,500 online)
  • Notable Features: Restricts on-site cohorts to between 15-20 members
  • Certifications: CompTIA Security+ Voucher included; ESCP

SecureSet Academy

SecureSet runs two different types of bootcamps and one preparation workshop designed to get entry-level candidates up to speed for more advanced studies. The main bootcamps split into engineering or analytics tracks, allowing you to pick a curriculum that best matches your goals for cybersecurity work. Both programs are available both full-time and part-time. In the engineering track, you get hands-on experience building secure systems with the latest cryptographic tools and techniques; in the analytics course, you’ll explore threat intelligence sources, evaluation, and strategy and analysis techniques.

  • Locations: Denver, Colorado Springs
  • Admissions: 1-3 week admission process, no set criteria
  • Costs / Course Length: 12-36 weeks, part-time available, $999 – $19,950
  • Notable Features: Dual track camps allowing for specialization in analytics or engineering
  • Certifications: None

Flatiron School

Flatiron also offers both analytics and engineering immersive. The analytics track takes you through detection protocols and SOAR and SIEM systems. On the engineering side, a unique Cyber Range lab puts you in a sandbox for live-fire testing of your skills and techniques under the watchful eyes of instructors with impressive credential in cryptography and government service. With tools like Wireshark and Metasploit, you’ll learn how to attack and defend in a realistic setup that is designed to approximate real world systems with input from major employers.

  • Locations: New York, Washington D.C., Online (some camps)
  • Admissions: Analytics track does not require technical background; engineering requires some familiarity with Windows, Linux, and Unix systems
  • Costs / Course Length: 12-15 weeks, $17,000 – $20,000
  • Notable Features: Programs were developed in collaboration with top cybersecurity employers to align with their current hiring needs
  • Certifications: None

Fullstack Cyber Bootcamp

As part of the Cyber NYC Initiative, the Fullstack cybersecurity bootcamp is aimed squarely at entry-level practitioners, with no previous experience necessary. Getting more qualified people into the industry is the goal, and with a flexible part-time option, this camp is available to currently working professionals in and out of the industry.

  • Locations: New York
  • Admissions: Pass a logical reasoning assessment
  • Costs / Course Length: 17 weeks (26 part-time), $17,610 ($15,980 part-time)
  • Notable Features: Part of the $100 million Cyber NYC Initiative with government and industry backing
  • Certifications: OSCP or Security+

Claim Academy

Although Claim Academy has made their name on the back of their immersive .NET and Java coding bootcamps, they also offer a cybersecurity analyst camp that sometimes flies under the radar. That’s a shame, because with flexible online and part-time attendance options and a market-driven curriculum, you can develop rapid security expertise even while you are still on the job.

  • Locations: St. Louis, Online
  • Admissions: Pass a technical interview
  • Costs / Course Length: 12 weeks, part-time option available, $13,998
  • Notable Features: Close ties to the rising St. Louis tech startup community
  • Certifications: None

Dev League

You might be a little suspicious that a part-time, evening and weekend bootcamp located in Hawaii is just a cover for would-be infosec pros to go party for 7 months, but don’t let the location fool you. The curriculum is fully compliant with the NICE Cybersecurity Framework, and 15 full missions modules worth of instruction in everything from OS fundamentals to applied cryptography prepare you to a level that few other bootcamps can reach.

  • Locations: Hawaii
  • Admissions: No prerequisites, prep courses may be assigned
  • Costs / Course Length: 34 weeks, part-time, $14,500
  • Notable Features: Did we mention it’s in Hawaii?
  • Certifications: Some guidance offered

NetCom Learning

A laser-focus and affordable price tag characterize this 4-day bootcamp that is designed to get you through all the requirements to pass your CompTIA Security+ certification. Through an 11-part course you’ll get every bit of information and understanding you will need to pass your exam at the end of the course.

  • Locations: Online
  • Admissions: 2 years IT admin experience with security focus
  • Costs / Course Length: 4 days, $2,815
  • Notable Features: Certification focus leads to high success rates
  • Certifications: Security+

Simplilearn

Simplilearn’s Cyber Security Expert program straddles the line between MOOC and bootcamp in a way that works well for its intent: it covers a vast number of industry-standard security certifications, and uses directly lead instruction to kick off the module for each, while allowing you to continue in-depth studies on the content you are most focused on.

  • Locations: Online
  • Admissions: No requirements
  • Costs / Course Length: 96 hours, $3,999
  • Notable Features: Unique combination of directly lead and self-paced content
  • Certifications: CompTIA Security+ and Network+, CEH, CISM, CISSP, CCSP

Divergence Academy

The Divergence Academy focuses on ethical hacking instruction in their Cyber Security Professional Penetration Tester boot camp. The course can be covered in 10 weeks, or 20 weekends, making it a friendly and accessible option for working professionals. Six courses cover everything from shell scripting to privilege escalation techniques, giving you all the nefarious skills you need to become an ethical penetration tester, one of the most in-demand jobs in cybersecurity today.

  • Locations: Dallas
  • Admissions: Pass a technical interview process; hold a degree in business or science
  • Costs / Course Length: 10 weeks, part-time option available, $18,000
  • Notable Features: Job placement assistance and extensive career preparation
  • Certifications: ECSA

Eleven Fifty Academy

A curriculum vetted by Fortune 100 companies plus a dedicated career services team all bet ensure you’ll have a position waiting for you by the time you get through this 8-week, entry-level program. Making use of a sandboxed cyber range allows you to explore every aspect of both attacking and defending systems in a safe, supervised environment. Threats are drawn right from real-world events, giving you immediate relevancy in information security operations.

  • Locations: Indianapolis, Online
  • Admissions: No experience necessary
  • Costs / Course Length: 8 weeks, price not provided
  • Notable Features: Cyber range facilities offers hands-on experience with hacking and defensive techniques in a sandboxed environment
  • Certifications: Security+, Network+

NexGenT

If you are going to enroll in a bootcamp, maybe the most bootcamp-like are those put together by ex-military cybersecurity experts, like NexGenT. A highly regimented training course starts at the ground level and uses live training and coaching from mentors to help you master skills first in the lab, and then in actual practice in a custom cyber range facility. Special attention to networking skills and security is delivered, and a final project readies you for a final skills qualification check that instructors will use to validate your readiness for deployment in real world infosec positions… which the career services team here will already have lined up for you.

  • Locations: Online
  • Admissions: No experience necessary
  • Costs / Course Length: 20 weeks, part-time, $12,500
  • Notable Features: Content 100% unique to NexGenT curriculum, developed by former USAF and Israeli Defense Force instructors
  • Certifications: NCSA

Tech901

No, that cost is not a typo… one of the least expensive qualification bootcamps you will find for the CompTIA Security+ test gets away with it through a laser focus on teaching to the test, along with relatively high entrance-level qualifications that mean instructors don’t have to waste time with a lot of remedial training. You’ll be surrounded by a high-caliber cohort here, and get exactly the information you need to get one of the most valuable certifications in the business.

  • Locations: Memphis
  • Admissions: Hold a Network+, CCENT, or higher certification
  • Costs / Course Length: 11 weeks, $250 plus testing costs
  • Notable Features: Low cost, high focus
  • Certifications: CompTIA Security+

NPower

Flipping the script entirely, NPower offers a bootcamp that actually pays you to attend… in the form of an included 12-week internship. That’s because this nonprofit has a mission of launching digital careers for military veterans and young adults from underserved communities. And while you might imagine this sweetheart deal is overwhelmed with applicants, the stringent qualifications ensure that only graduates of other Npower programs with significant experience and certifications make it in. It’s well worth the effort, however, with mentoring from senior level cybersecurity professionals, industry-standard certification preparation, job placement assistance and career development workshops waiting for you… along with the skilled technical education to back all of that up.

  • Locations: New York/New Jersey metro, Texas (hybrid)
  • Admissions: Only open to NPower alums with 2+ years experience and A+ certification
  • Costs / Course Length: 18 weeks, plus 12 week paid internship, no cost to student
  • Notable Features: Focus on veterans and applicants from underserved communities.
  • Certifications: Security+, Network+, Cybersecurity Support Technician

University-Based Cybersecurity Bootcamps

While once bootcamps were the domain of software firms, certification agencies and industry trade groups, colleges have started to recognize the advantages of this style of education and offer their own bootcamp courses in a variety of areas.

College-run camps have the advantages of stability, better access to educational resources, and more professional instructors than some of the competition.

Case Western Reserve University Cybersecurity Boot Camp

With a strong IT department already well-respected in the security community, Case Western brings formidable expertise to bear on cybersecurity practices and techniques. You’ll get hands-on experience with industry-standard tools like Wireshark and Metasploit, and develop market-driven skills in ethical hacking, cyber defense, and cryptography.

  • Locations: Cleveland, Online
  • Admissions: No experience required
  • Costs / Course Length: 24 weeks, part-time, $10,995
  • Notable Features: Digital Forensic Methods
  • Certifications: CompTIA Security+ and Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) (indirect)

Columbia Engineering Cybersecurity Boot Camp

Hands-on training from some of the best networking, systems, and data engineering experts in the world is the key feature of the Columbia cybersecurity bootcamp. A strong emphasis on network security takes you through packet analysis with tools like Wireshark and ensures you have the kind of familiarity with the OSI model and protocols like TCP/IP to spot vulnerabilities and secure systems both internally and externally. You’ll also learn digital forensics to help you handle those times when the defenses aren’t quite enough, which will help you land jobs in investigative roles as well as straight security positions.

  • Locations: New York, Online
  • Admissions: Undergo a phone interview; no published requirements
  • Costs / Course Length: 24 weeks, part-time, $12,995
  • Notable Features: Pre-course prep available
  • Certifications: Applies toward CEH and Security+

George Washington University Cybersecurity Boot Camp

A uniquely data-driven approach to training is what powers the GWU boot camp, keeping the curriculum aligned with current market demands and ensuring outcomes remain positive. A dedicated career services team assists with students changing career paths or striving to advance in their current positions. You get a strong set of foundational skills in cyberdefense, from penetration testing to system hardening to vulnerability assessment basics.

  • Locations: Washington D.C., Online
  • Admissions: Undergo a critical thinking and problem-solving assessment
  • Costs / Course Length: 24 weeks, part-time, $10,000
  • Notable Features: Analytics-driven learning experience ensuring optimal curriculum
  • Certifications: Security+ and CEH content

Georgia Tech Cyber and Network Security Boot Camp

With classes starting quarterly, and held part-time on evenings and weekends, this is the perfect base-level cybersecurity bootcamp for working professionals either attempting to advance their career in security or make a switch into the industry from outside. A comprehensive course of instruction on both Windows and Linux platforms, covering web technology architecture and security, security operations, and essential programming skills delivers the equipment you need to accomplish those goals.

  • Locations: Atlanta, Online
  • Admissions: No experience needed; phone assessment before enrollment
  • Costs / Course Length: 24 weeks, part-time, $10,000
  • Notable Features: Evening and weekend courses accommodate working professionals
  • Certifications: CEH and Security+ applicable

Northwestern Cybersecurity Boot Camp

A dynamic curriculum offers hands-on, immersive training in some of the hottest aspects of modern cybersecurity, giving you all the fundamental skills you need to launch a career in the field. Career-planning assistance includes resume and social media profile support, and access to a dedicated profile coach and career director. Tech talks with local industry professionals add to both your networking opportunities and your insights into real-world cybersec operations. Project demo days allow you to show off your portfolio and line up interviews before you’ve even finished the camp.

  • Locations: Chicago, Online
  • Admissions: Phone interview, followed by academic assessment of critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Costs / Course Length: 24 weeks, part-time, $11,495
  • Notable Features: Professional development services to assist with career transition and placement
  • Certifications: Relevant to CEH and Security+

Rice University Cybersecurity Boot Camp

Rice University delivers the methods, techniques, and best practices that modern cybersecurity professionals make use of every day on the job. You’ll get a crash course in exactly what that feels like through realistic, project-based instruction in web vulnerability and security, system hardening, and digital forensics, making use of cutting-edge tools like Hashcat and the Burp Suite. New areas of vulnerability like close security and identity and access management in a globally connected world are also covered to give you a comprehensive skillset in the field.

  • Locations: Houston, Online
  • Admissions: No experience required
  • Costs / Course Length: 24 weeks, part-time, $11,495
  • Notable Features: Kali Linux instruction offers expertise in that forensics and penetration testing platform
  • Certifications: CEH and Security+ contents taught

Cybersecurity Boot Camp at UNC Charlotte

This bootcamp works to build out your security skills from the ground up, from a general analysis of vulnerabilities and threats, up to the practical steps required to secure both Windows and Linux systems. You’ll also get a perspective on cloud computing security, modern cryptographic techniques, and secure network architecture and design. Then you get to sit on the other side of the table, and try to break it all through live penetration testing, to get the same view of your efforts the enemy will have.

  • Locations: Charlotte, Online
  • Admissions: No experience necessary
  • Costs / Course Length: 24 weeks, part-time, $10,995
  • Notable Features: Skilled instructors with real-world experience
  • Certifications: CompTIA Security+ and Certified Ethical Hacker partially covered

University of California Cybersecurity Boot Camps

A multidisciplinary approach is the perfect way to take advantage of the wealth of experience that is available in the tech-savvy UC system, and that’s exactly what these in-demand camps have to offer. You start off on the ground floor, with the principles of information risk assessment, and with a high-level perspective on the importance of compliance and governance in infosec practices. Then you hit the practical side of the business, diving into basic system administration and hardening skills, before moving up to network security and defensive practices. Forensic skills and penetration testing are taught along the way, giving you a comprehensive array of tools to use in cyberdefense.

  • Locations: Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Online
  • Admissions: Phone interview process and assessment required
  • Costs / Course Length: 24 weeks, part-time, $11,995
  • Notable Features: Offensive security training with Metasploit and Searchsploit
  • Certifications: Security+ and CEH exam prep

University of Denver Cybersecurity Boot Camp

Core skills in information technology underly the advanced cybersecurity training you receive at the University of Denver bootcamp. That means you learn about network structure and router and switch configuration as well as basic Windows and Linux sysadmin skills first, because you can’t secure a system when you don’t understand how it operates. For similar reasons, the course covers elementary Bash shell scripting and Python programming, giving you a feel for the kinds of tools hackers use as well as some of your most powerful defenses against them. With your education rounded out with forensic methods and analytics training, you might not even need to take advantage of the included career services available here when it comes time to find a job… employers will come looking for you.

  • Locations: Denver, Online
  • Admissions: Experience not necessary, but must pass interview process
  • Costs / Course Length: 24 weeks, part-time, $10,995
  • Notable Features: Network security analysis includes deep packet inspection and training on Wireshark
  • Certifications: Security+ and CEH study and preparation

KU Cybersecurity Boot Camp

The University of Kansas puts this boot camp on quarterly at its Overland Park campus and now in a virtual classroom environment. Held on evenings and weekends to ensure accessibility for working professionals, it delivers training from an entry-level perspective that makes it suitable for IT pros looking to transition into cybersecurity as well as people new to the industry. A dedicated career services team helps you land positions with your newfound expertise after you complete the camp, a process made easier by the extensive portfolio of real-world skills you build with tools like Nessus and Wireshark.

  • Locations: Overland Park, Online
  • Admissions: No previous experience required
  • Costs / Course Length: 24 weeks, part-time, $10,995
  • Notable Features: Career planning support includes technical interview training and portfolio reviews
  • Certifications: Prep for CompTIA Security+ and CEH exams

University of Minnesota Cybersecurity Boot Camp

A basic proficiency in networking, systems, web technology, and databases will lead you to a better-informed approach to both offensive and defensive cybersecurity in this intensive six month bootcamp. You’ll learn the skills you need to prepare you for both the CompTIA Security+ certification test and becoming a Certified Ethical Hacker, with penetration testing and exposure to popular tools like Wireshark and Nessus. A career services team is dedicated to helping you find a position after completing the camp, or working on your chance for advancement in your current position.

  • Locations: St. Paul, Online
  • Admissions: Phone interview, followed by critical thinking assessment
  • Costs / Course Length: 24 weeks, part-time, $10,995
  • Notable Features: Penetration testing training developing skills applicable to the CEH exam
  • Certifications: Security+ and CEH prep

University of Oregon Cybersecurity Boot Camp

Immersive lab environments help drive home the fundamental cybersecurity concepts taught in the UO program, whether you study in person or in the virtual classroom environment. Hands-on training will give you the skills and confidence to apply your expertise, and quarterly networking events allow you to mingle with local professionals to build your professional connections before you even enter the workforce. Career planning assistance includes resume and social media profile support and career content and practice sessions.

  • Locations: Portland, Online
  • Admissions: No experience necessary
  • Costs / Course Length: 24 weeks, part-time, Not available
  • Notable Features: CompTIA partner program
  • Certifications: Security+

Penn Cybersecurity Boot Camp

The University of Pennsylvania cybersecurity bootcamp may be a relatively new entry in the field, but it delivers all of the classic skills and education to make you a formidable information security professional in just six months. Using virtual networks, you’ll study cutting-edge cloud security and deployment processes, while learning how to use hacking tools like Nessus and Metasploit to check for vulnerabilities and gaps in your own security layers. Fundamental tools like shell scripting and risk assessment processes give you the top-to-bottom skills necessary to forge a career in Pennsylvania or beyond as a cybersecurity pro.

  • Locations: Philadelphia, Online
  • Admissions: An interview and problem-solving assessment is required
  • Costs / Course Length: 24 weeks, part-time, $11,995
  • Notable Features: Learn about bot behavior detection and blocking
  • Certifications: Security+ and CEH

University of Richmond Cybersecurity Boot Camp

This challenging program benefits from constant, data-driven assessments of the skills and curriculum, driven by instructors with real-world experience in security and penetration testing. That ensures you are not only learning the most in-demand techniques, applicable on both Windows and Linux platforms, but learning them from people who have put them into practice in a live environment, and who may in some cases have had a hand in developing them. The program it followed up with a comprehensive set of career services to equip you for success either in changing career paths or advancing from a current position in cybersecurity.

  • Locations: Richmond, Online
  • Admissions: Experience not required, but must pass critical-thinking assessment and interview process
  • Costs / Course Length: 24 weeks, part-time, $10,995
  • Notable Features: Market-driven curriculum is constantly adjusted for the latest exploits and techniques in the field
  • Certifications: Skills are applicable in Security+ and CEH exams

Cybersecurity Boot Camp at UT Austin

Two evenings a week and one Saturday a month are not much to give up in return for the excellent and comprehensive introduction to cybersecurity principles and practices you get at the University of Texas bootcamp. Austin is hot in the tech community right now, which means it’s also a focus for information security needs and development. So you’ll be rubbing shoulders with fellow students as well as practicing professionals who are in the top tier of the profession. Digital forensic methods and analytics will help you build expertise in detecting and responding to attacks on-premises or against cloud facilities, operating on any platform.

  • Locations: Austin, Online
  • Admissions: Initial phone interview, but no experience necessary
  • Costs / Course Length: 24 weeks, part-time, $11,500
  • Notable Features: Cross-platform training in Windows and Linux
  • Certifications: Applies to CompTIA Security+ and CEH exams

University of Utah Cybersecurity Program

Although it’s an entry-level program, this boot camp doesn’t skimp on the technical details. You can expect to learn all about networking and the important OSI model, how to administer both Windows and Linux systems, and how to put together elementary shell scripts and work with Python code. For a part-time program, a lot of information is packed in, and a career services team will help you make the most of it when you graduate and start shopping those skills around to potential employers.

  • Locations: Salt Lake City, Online
  • Admissions: Application process, but no specific prerequisites
  • Costs / Course Length: 24 weeks, part-time, $11,495
  • Notable Features: Strong networking education with deep packet analysis and performance implications of security features
  • Certifications: Training toward Security+, Network+, and CISSP

Vanderbilt Cybersecurity Boot Camp

Whether you are entirely new to the field, want to enhance your existing infosec skills for better chances of promotion, or want to make the transition from an existing IT position but need some specific education to do it, Vanderbilt’s bootcamp has you covered. This prestigious university builds on valuable resources and experienced instructors to give you an advanced skillset in cybersecurity with tested toolsets like Nessus and Hashcat, and covering hot topics like cryptography, secure network design, and identity and access management. A career services team will help you polish up your resume and portfolio to showcase your new skills after graduation.

  • Locations: Nashville, Online
  • Admissions: Go through a basic problem-solving assessment
  • Costs / Course Length: 24 weeks, part-time, $10,995
  • Notable Features: Gain a hacker’s-eye view with Metasploit and other tools as you practice penetration tests on your own systems
  • Certifications: CEH and Security+ training

Washington University Cybersecurity Boot Camp

WUSTL also runs a data science bootcamp, so data protection features heavily in the curriculum for the cybersecurity camp and you know that you are getting that training from instructors who have real-world experience in dealing with such systems. Cloud-based and on-premises system security are both covered, with Windows and Linux platform administration dealt with and essential scripting and automation skills being taught. Tools like Kali, Burp Suite, and Hashcat are all taught so you are perfectly familiar with the same tools you’ll be using after graduation.

  • Locations: St. Louis, Online
  • Admissions: No set requirements, but pass an interview process
  • Costs / Course Length: 24 weeks, part-time, $10,995
  • Notable Features: Emphasis on databases and data security and protection
  • Certifications: CEH and Security+ are partially covered

Things We Considered When Comparing Bootcamps and Putting Together Our List of Recommendations

Deciding which bootcamp to enlist in will depend on your individual goals and capabilities. The most immediate and obvious differentiators are subjects and certifications. Some bootcamp operators simply may not offer the type of course you are interested in, or may not offer it in a convenient location. That makes the process of elimination easy. Sizing up the different elements of the programs that do offer the training you’re looking for takes a deeper analysis of certain things that are a little difficult to quantify, like opportunities for hands-on experience and the kind of background the instructors have.

Pricing is generally consistent between camp operators, so cost won’t likely weigh heavily in your decision.

Beyond that, the things worth considering when choosing which bootcamp to attend aren’t so much material components of the curriculum, but more often come down to those elements that impact your experience as a student, like how much you have to compete for the attention of instructors and how much of the program is devoted to practicing the skills you learn in true-to-life scenarios. Those are the exact elements we considered when putting together our list of recommendations above …

Cohort Size

It’s tempting for bootcamp operators to pack in as many students as possible during a given session, increasing the size of the cohort to increase revenues while maintaining fixed costs for instructors and materials. But a large cohort means more limited individual interaction with instructors, which can otherwise be one of the most valuable parts of a bootcamp program.

Shoot for a cohort size below 30 if possible. Smaller cohorts also result in stronger bonding between students, which leads to better networking opportunities later on.

Hands-on Experience

Many cybersecurity bootcamps focus on classroom education but count on students to perform lab exercises online. Better bootcamps conduct labs during class time, and with hands-on projects that allow cohorts to work together in building secure systems, auditing actual network logs and structures, or installing and configuring security software.

There is no substitute for gaining actual hands-on experience at these tasks. And, there is no better way to gain an understanding of how and why to perform tasks than by having the watchful eyes of instructors physically present while you work on them.

Well-Established Programs and Providers

Many bootcamps are relatively new and have relatively little feedback or reputation in the information security community. Naturally, there’s some risk associated with signing up for these lesser-known camps, however, you may find that many of the organizations behind them are themselves well-established even if the bootcamps they offer aren’t.

What Past Students Have to Say

Taking a look at reviews of those organizations in general, and for the specific bootcamp courses you are considering in particular, should provide some feedback on the quality and presentation of the course.

Almost all bootcamp providers self-publish reviews from prior students, but these should be taken with a grain of salt since the companies have a powerful incentive to include positive reviews and eliminate negative ones. However, you can still get a fair representation of the style and structure of courses from these kinds of self-published reviews.

Getting the Most Out of Your Bootcamp Experience

Bootcamps move so fast you could come out the other side feeling like you didn’t quite get everything. Despite your best efforts, it’s no easy feat to give your full attention to every single step as you progress through the course. There are a few things you can do to minimize the sense of having missed something and maximize the knowledge, skills and other benefits you take away from the program…

Brush Up on the Fundamentals

Although you and many of the other students will be coming in with a limited knowledge of information security practices and techniques, the more familiar you are with both the underlying technologies being secured and the basic vocabulary of cybersecurity, the more easily you will assimilate the lessons of the bootcamp.

Because many bootcamp operators also function as a resource for security concepts and information, you can prepare yourself by reviewing their open-source study guides and incident information. In particular, SANS’ Reading Room website and ISACA’s CSX resources expose much of the information that feed into certifications, while also serving as more general information security resources.

Set an Expectation for Your Own Success

Being fully mentally prepared for the rigorous learning experience ahead of you is probably the most important thing you can do to ensure you make the most of your bootcamp experience. You will be pushed and you will face challenges, and the course isn’t going to slow down and wait for you to catch up.

You need to have at least a little bit of mental toughness and self-confidence to press through the frustrating moments when the course content is coming at you at a furious pace and you feel like you’re not cut out for this type of learning experience, or for the field of cybersecurity at all. But by simply anticipating the challenges and staying steadfast in the path you’ve chosen, you’ll easily clear any hurdles that pop up. Millions of other people just like you have done it, and are doing it every day.

Build Your Relationships

You might feel a tendency to put your head down and focus on the course material while you are inside the maelstrom of bootcamp class work, and you should, but don’t forget to make a friend or two along the way.

Networking is a part of the package at most bootcamps. In the long run, the people you meet there might be far more valuable to your career than the actual cybersecurity tools and techniques you are taught. The tools, after all, will change; but the people will be in the industry for years and can serve as valuable contacts and provide advice over the course of your entire career.

How a Bootcamp Can Improve Your Earning Potential

You wouldn’t be reading this page right now if you hadn’t already heard that cybersecurity skills can lead to big money in IT. The rumors are true: according to a 2019 study by tech industry recruiting firm, Burning Glass Technologies, cybersecurity positions pay an average of around 16% more than regular IT positions.

That makes six-figure salaries more common than not, even in entry-level roles. The Robert Half 2020 Salary Guide in Technology shows that even basic systems security administrators make $102,000 at the median, while data security analysts pull in $121,000 annually.

In the top ranges of the profession, the top 5%, cybersecurity specialists in different roles can earn far more:

  • Security Architect – $172,000
  • Network Security Engineer – $176,750
  • Information Systems Security Manager – $192,500

Companies are willing to pay that kind of money because the consequences of a cyber-breach are so economically devastating. The lessons of Target, which suffered a credit card breach to the tune of $164 million in 2013, and Capital One, hit in 2019 for $300 million and more than 100 million severely angry customers, haven’t been lost on other corporations or governments.

While there are some regional differences in salaries, they may not be as extreme as in other IT roles due to the national demand. For example, network security administrators can expect the following salary ranges in these cities:

  • New York – $133,124 – $225,502
  • Dallas – $105,173 – $178,155
  • San Francisco – $133,598 – $226,305
  • Seattle – $120,332 – $203,835
  • Chicago – $117,490 – $199,020

Increasing mobility in the workforce keeps entry-level salaries about the same in most parts of the country, while the big differences are found at the high end, reflecting the demand large businesses have for cybersecurity professionals with advanced expertise. That’s the difference a bootcamp can make in your earning potential, keeping your skills honed and equal to the demands at the top end of the profession.

Boosting Your Employment Prospects Through a Cybersecurity Bootcamp

The reason salaries in cybersecurity are so high is that there is a huge demand for information security professionals and not enough qualified individuals to fill all those jobs. Dice’s 2020 Tech Job Report places cybersecurity workers as the 10th hottest job in technology today, while Burning Glass found that the rate of expansion in cybersecurity job listings has grown three times faster than those of IT jobs as a whole.

The key, of course, is finding qualified workers to fill those jobs, not just warm bodies. That’s where bootcamps come in.

The Center for Cyber Safety and Education Center and ISC² released a Global Information Security Workforce Study in 2017 that found that the gap between job openings and qualified individuals will grow to nearly 2 million by 2022. In that survey, 66% of respondents identified the problem as a shortage of qualified applicants for open positions. But those positions will keep growing, with 70% of surveyed companies planning to create even more jobs in the industry over the next year, increasing the size of information security departments by 15%.

That’s a fast path to expansion, and it rules out traditional college credentials as a source of more applicants… meeting a 15% growth target in one year isn’t solved by students flooding into four-year college programs. With the right bootcamp on your resume, however, you could be well positioned to step up and be part of the new class of cybersecurity experts filling that demand.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cybersecurity Bootcamps

Will I receive college credits for attending a cybersecurity bootcamp?

Not usually, even for those that are put on by colleges themselves. A bootcamp approach to training is fundamentally different from the typical collegiate education experience, so it’s not usually appropriate to compare the two on a credit basis.

How long does it take to finish a cybersecurity bootcamp?

Many bootcamps are quite short, only a few days, while others may last up to six months, particularly if they follow a part-time schedule.

What kind of education or experience do I need to be accepted into a cybersecurity bootcamp?

There is a broad range of requirements for different types of bootcamps. Most of them prize problem-solving ability and creative thinking above all, however, so there is often an inherent flexibility in the listed admissions requirements. If you can demonstrate competence in the basic skills, then formal education or experience may not be specifically required.

What are the pros and cons of online and in-person bootcamps?

In an online bootcamp, there is obviously no one hovering over your shoulder while you rush to complete a project as part of your training. That can be good or bad depending on your personality and learning style. Some people need that personal contact and attention; others work better without it.

Otherwise, the curriculum between the two types are identical, and so are the skills that you will learn. Of course, the online versions have a little more flexibility and efficiency built in since you don’t have to commute or find parking, but most bootcamps keep the same hours whether you attend in-person or through synchronous courses in the virtual classroom.

Is a bootcamp education really enough or will I also need a college degree?

We’re not going to lie… it’s hard to get in the door at any modern business without at least a bachelor’s degree to your name. But to some extent, information technology in general, and cybersecurity in particular, are a little Wild West in terms of formal qualifications. It’s still a field where what you know and what you can do can carry more weight than a fancy degree. The cool thing about holding a degree, though, is that it speaks for you, showing prospective employers what you’re capable of without you having to figure out how to prove it.

In the end though, startups, clients, and even major corporations will care more about accomplishments than credentials, and the bleeding edge techniques aren’t taught in any classroom. That means there is room to develop a career with only a bootcamp and self-taught skills in your background, but it will be a harder road to follow.