Are Cyber Security Bootcamps Worth It? (Shocking Info)


A friend of mine did a cyber security bootcamp in India. It was cheaper than doing one in the UK where he lived, even when flight costs, accommodation and meals was taken into consideration.

Are cyber security bootcamps worth it? For those cyber security professionals who need to brush up on their cyber skills or renew certifications, bootcamps are worth it. They save time by condensing the cyber security courses into a few days, allowing skills to be learned quickly.

I’ve recently looked at a bootcamp for doing the CISSP security certification, where in 6 days, I can get a refresher on the exam and then on the final day, take the exam. I even thought about doing it abroad like in India as it can be cheaper but I’m still not sure on doing a cyber security bootcamp abroad or in the UK or Europe.

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For me, as I already have a deep knowledge of cyber security,  doing the CISSP or any other cyber security certification bootcamp makes sense. I just need to get used to type of questions to expect on the exam and what type of information the examiners are looking for.

For those people who lack cyber security skills, boot camps may seem like a good idea to pick up these skills. However, cyber security boot camps like most other IT bootcamps are designed for people already possessing a good level of experience and knowledge.

Without the relevant knowledge or skills, cyber security bootcamps can become an expensive mistake. As not only are these bootcamps expensive but the intense learning makes it difficult to benefit without having proper experience and skills. 

There are some unscrupulously run bootcamps designed to profit from people who have little cyber security skills or knowledge. They are manipulated into thinking the bootcamp offers some fantastic way to cheat the system and get a career in cyber security.

Unfortunately, these individuals lull themselves into believing they will become instantly employable once the bootcamp has been completed. I’ve worked with many a starry eyed individual who’ve believed they will start earning big bucks when they’ve completed the bootcamp and the exam. 

I’ve worked with many project managers, who think they can just walk into a cyber security job armed with their new cyber security certifications. When this doesn’t happen and they’re still working as project managers, the penny finally begins to drop. 

As they realize experience is far more important than just a certification, especially where a companies reputation can be damaged from a cyber attack. These companies want experience that can protect them and not a paper certified professional. 

Do Cyber Security Bootcamps Work? 

Cyber security boot camps do work for people who already work in cyber security and are looking at renewing their certifications or taking new certifications. Bootcamps don’t work well for people who have limited cyber security knowledge and experience.

There’s a lot of information to learn during a cyber security bootcamp, so someone with cyber security experience will find it easier to keep at pace with the bootcamp. Whilst those with limited or no practical cyber security knowledge and experience will struggle to keep up with the rest of the people on the bootcamp.

What is a Cyber Security Bootcamp?

A cyber security bootcamp is an intensive learning experience carried out over a consecutive number of days, typically a week. Bootcamps can be exam cramming where exam questions are practiced  or just information cramming where attendees learn about cyber new security skills.

With the exam cram boot camps, attendees go through exam questions similar to those expected on their real exam. This is designed to get them used to the types of questions they will need to answer. It builds confidence and allows the attendees to understand how the questions need to be tackled. 

This is exactly the way I practiced for my exams when I was in school. I’d get the past five years worth of exam papers and go through the questions. When I felt comfortable, I could answer one type of questions, I’d move onto the next type. This way of working allowed me to learn very quickly and prepared me well for the exams.

If you already work in Cyber security and need to refresh your knowledge or certification then bootcamps are definitely worth it. Learning for exams is far easier this way than reading text books or reading online articles.

If you’re new to cyber security or have little knowledge then bootcamps can be an expensive option, with limited chances of getting a job at the end.

The other problem with bootcamps is retaining the information after its been crammed. The quicker you learn something, the quicker you’ll forget the information as retaining it becomes more difficult than gradually learning it.

So, the security knowledge I have learnt over the past few years, I’ve managed to hold onto it and retain it. As I’ve learned it at a moderate pace to make it easier to retain. This means learning new information is just like a top up and not a complete learning experience from scratch. 

A top up means I’m learning just enough to retain the information for a longer period. Instead of also having to learn the basics, as I would need to do if I had no previous experience or knowledge.

Earlier in my career when I learnt skills quickly, I forget them just as easily. It’s only when I got into Infrastructure and then security where I could learn at a gradual pace, meant I could hold onto my knowledge and skills for longer.

Today, all that acquired knowledge is available on demand from my brain. This shows my confidence in my knowledge when working with colleagues as they are assured, I know what I’m talking about. So, when I’m advising them in the cyber security best practices they need to adhere to, they know my advice is good advice they need to take on board.

It’s important to be able to confidently talk about cyber security as in most roles, other parts of the organization need to be reassurance they’re being compliant. I have to deal with engineering, human resources, accounting to project delivery. Advising them on cyber security as well as working for the security department.

A friend of mine who works as a project manager made the step up into cyber security project management by taking on small cyber security projects on the programme he worked on. He quickly picked up experience and then was able to get a full-time role as cyber security project manager. 

They could clearly demonstrate their cyber knowledge from their experience. If they had done a bootcamp, I don’t think they would have been able to get a cyber security role afterwards, because they’d have no real working experience of cyber security.

Fortunately for them, not only did they get a well paying role, but they also didn’t have to spend a lot of money on doing a bootcamp. Sometimes I joke that before they got a cyber role, they used to think cyber was a difficult area for people like himself to get into. Now he knows it’s as easy as other areas, you just need to gradually build up the experience.

Wrap up

Cyber security boot camps are a great idea for cyber security professionals who need to practice for a certification. They can quickly acclimatize themselves with exam over a few days and then take the exam.

Cyber security boot camps are not so good for the inexperienced as the intensive training can be difficult to learn in a short period of time. Retaining the information learnt is also difficult as the cram sessions lead to poor memory retention.

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