This article covers how much cybersecurity training programs can be expected to cost. To see our article on the cost of cybersecurity degrees, go here. To see our article on how long it takes to learn cybersecurity on your own, you can go here.
If you’re interested in getting into cyber security, you know you’re going to need to learn a lot of information and pick up quite a few new skills. You could try to learn cyber security on your own, but for most people, getting access to training is the best way to go. But how much will that cyber security training cost? Let’s take a look.
Ready to Start Your Cybersecurity Career?
Get my FREE 5-part series "Strategies for New Cyber Careers". These strategies can help you get your cyber career started. I'll also send you my weekly newsletter every Wednesday with resources that every cyber professional needs to know.
How much does cyber security training cost? Cost for cyber security training can range from free to $5,000 or more, depending on the quality of the training and how much access to hands on labs and exercises are provided. Higher cost training options also often lead to more valuable credentials, such as certificates or college degrees.
Let’s take a look at various training options and costs that are available to learn cyber security, and which may be best for you and your wallet.
Free and Low Cost Training – Good enough to get your started
We certainly live in interesting times. Never before in human history have we had access to so much information for so cheap, and often for free. With the explosion of the internet and smartphones, anyone can post information for free, and anyone can access information from anywhere.
This has provided the benefit of many low cost or free options to learn anything, including cyber security. The downside is that which these options can get you going on your learning path, they lack the depth of resources you’ll need to really learn cyber security to the level that you’ll need to be employable, and a lot of times the information is outdated or just plain wrong. Here are a few free or low cost options to get you going on your cyber security learning path.
YouTube: It is unfortunate how many people rely on YouTube for this career training, because the quality and accuracy is hit or miss. The problem with YouTube is that publishers often post a video with a title that doesn’t accurately represent what they are covering in the video, or they aren’t covering the topic with as much depth as they should.
To learn cyber security, YouTube is best used to pick up quick information or get a second point of view on a cyber topic. Using YouTube for a quick tutorial on a small hardware or software task is pretty useful.
Cybrary: Cybrary is an interesting cyber security learning platform that provides their basic video learning courses free of charge. That is pretty great, and the content is highly accurate. Some of their video resources have audio quality that could be better, but Cybrary is a great free resource to get started and know you’re learning accurate information from someone who is qualified.
Udemy: I have a love/hate relationship with Udemy. Udemy provides thousands of cyber security video trainings for around $10, which is a steal. I like that Udemy provides a platform for many good trainers to get their material out there, including guys like Mike Meyers and Chris Bryant But for every one of those trainers, there certainly are a few more that just aren’t worth your time. Udemy is probably best used as a platform to pick up a septic training from a specific trainer, or to learn something that is not available on Cybrary.
To learn more about Cybrary and Udemy, check out our recommended resources page.
Mid Level Pricing Options – Providing more of what you’ll need
At some point, you’ll need to learn more about cyber security, and you’ll probably need to pay more to do it. There are a lot of options that come in at the $200 – $1,000 range, and many of these either provide more training options or begin to integrate hands on exercises. You’ll need to move into this pricing tier if you want to get serious about your job, and if you get into cyber security, you may find that you’ll be paying for training at this tier for the rest of your career. Consider it just a cost of doing business. In cyber security, your learning will never stop.
Pluralsight: Pluralsight is similar to Cybrary, but they differ in that they also offer a lot of programming resources and they charge for their content. You can purchase a year of Pluralsight access for a few hundred dollars. Overall, it seems like Pluralsight is as good Cybrary as far as content, however I’ve found their audio and overall production of their video content to be excellent. Consider Pluralsight if you’re interested in learning coding as well as cyber and want the freedom to learn from home.
O’Reilly Safari Books Online: I like the Safari platform because their library of material is so huge, and they have content that extends beyond cyber security. With Safari, you can also pick up business concepts or soft skills, which are important for everyone’s career. Since Safari pulls from a lot of publishers, they also have a lot of books and written content, and usually have more than one resource for any given topic. Safari is probably for you if you want a mix of video and digital textbook learning.
Cybrary Insider – Cybrary does offer many free courses, but they’ve gotta pay the bills too, and they do that by offering a paid upper tier training option, called Cybrary Insider Pro. This offering from Cybrary costs more than Pluralsight and Safari, but includes interactive labs that you can log into and complete, and they line you up with mentors.
Cybrary’s paid option isn’t cheap (nearly $1,000 for the year), but it’s the only option discussed so far that really provides hands on learning options, which you’ll need as you move from beginner to intermediate in your cyber security knowledge. Cybrary is a good choice for you if you need to learn by doing things hands on and are serious about your career. Cybrary even states that you should expect to study about 10 hours a week or more while in their system, so they’re letting you know up front it’s time to get serious if you want to succeed. I like that.
To learn more about Pluralsight, Safari and Cybrary, check out our recommended resources page.
Upper Level Pricing Options – Welcome to the Classroom
Everything we’ve discussed so far has been by and large a self study program. But when you put an instructor in front of the classroom, either in person or virtually, and you hand out credentials like certificates and degrees, the value goes up, and the cost goes up. Let’s look at your training options for cyber security that are in the $1,000 and up range.
Community College: Community college is still the best deal going and part of what has provided so many people with access to middle class jobs. At a community college, you can train to be nearly anything from an electrician to a administrative assistant to a cyber security professional, and they are open to everyone.
Community college cyber security programs will range in cost from $2,000 to $4,000 per year, but there are scholarships often available. For this cost, you’re getting access to faculty and a hands on learning environment, as well as the opportunity to network with others in your class. And you’re working toward a degree too. Community college is the way to go if you are serious about getting into the cyber security field and want to invest in getting a degree.
Private Training Providers and Boot Camps: There are a lot of private cyber security training providers out there that deliver cyber training both in person and online. The cost of these programs typically range from $3,000 to $8,000. The quality is often pretty good, however their format is usually better suited for someone already in the field who is attending through their employer. Many of these for profit training providers have done a disservice to people beginning their careers because they pushed a hard sell and charged a lot of money, but weren’t able to deliver a college degree.
Four Year Colleges and Universities: Usually the most expensive, and longest term option for cyber security training, is a four year school. To get to the higher levels of cyber security, a bachelor’s degree or higher is nearly a necessity. Four year colleges provide a long term curriculum and a valuable degree credential when you’re done. And they also build in other non-technical skills that you’ll need, like writing and verbal communication. Enrolling in a four year college program is a major commitment in time and money, but it remains the true standard for career advancement in cyber security.
Do I need a degree to get into cyber security? You can get a job in cyber security without a degree, however your options for advancement and promotion may be limited over the course of your career. You can learn more about how jobs in cyber security line up with college degrees here.
Is a cyber security degree difficult? The effort to successfully complete any degree is substantial, but not un-achievable for anyone willing to invest the time to study and succeed. A degree in cyber security is more difficult than some other degrees but not as difficult as many that are in the sciences.