Cybersecurity is one of the quickest growing fields in tech, especially as COVID-19 has shifted more jobs online, and demand for professionals with cybersecurity certifications is only growing. In the cybersecurity world, certifications are key to transitioning into this lucrative field.
Cybersecurity bootcamps like Code Fellows, NGT Academy, and Evolve Security Academy take students from beginners to fully prepped for tests like Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), CompTIA Security+, and GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH). If you’re looking for a full career change, check out our list of the 21 Best Cyber Security Bootcamps of 2021.
But if you just need to prep for one of these cybersecurity cert exams, then you might not need a full-time, immersive cyber security bootcamp; instead, you should look for highly-rated certification courses that take less time (13 to 50 hours) and often cost much less than a full-time bootcamp. This list includes prep courses at all price points – from free YouTube playlists to $7,000 SANS Institute courses.
Most of these exams will require basic experience and knowledge of scripting languages. Choosing a cybersecurity exam prep course can be intimidating, especially if you’re also worried about the exam cost ($200-$700 per exam). We’ve gathered the most popular training options for the A+ exam, Security+ exam, CISSP exam, Network+ exam, and the GCIH exam so you don’t have to stress!
Many students start with a basic certification like CompTIA A+ as a way to get experience or land jobs like service desk analyst, help desk technician, technical support specialist, field service technician and data support technician. CompTIA’s A+ certification is a great option for people looking to break into the field and it’s possible to get credit toward recertification just by doing your job!
The IT Ready Technical Support program is run by the same company that administers the A+ certification exam – it’s nice to get that training from the source!
Length/Time: 8 hours per day, 5 days a week
This course is perfect for those new to IT who can commit to a full-time course.
The Global Knowledge A+ Prep Course is approved by CompTIA, which is assuring to students that want to be sufficiently prepared for the A+ Essentials Exam and the Practical Application Exam.
The Global Knowledge course includes an A+ study guide, practice test questions, and hand on learning. Plus, tuition includes a voucher for both A+ exams!
Length/Time: 50 hours
This course is perfect for those who have one week to ramp up quickly and prep for two A+ exams.
Compass Technical Training's CompTIA A+ course is an excellent option for anyone preparing for an entry-level PC technician position as well as those trying to become CompTIA certified. The CompTIA A+ course tuition includes the price of the exam as well as one retake.
This course is perfect for those looking to become PC technicans and/or A+ certified.
There are cybersecurity certifications for every skill level, even beginners. After the A+ exam, most people take a Security+ certification to expand on their skills next. You’ll need to pass the Security+ exam in order to become a Security Operations Center (SOC) Analyst or a Cyber Security Analyst.
CompTIA offers training for their certifications that include a voucher for the specific exam being covered. CompTIA is the creator of the Security+ certification and they ensure that their instructors hold certifications in whatever prep course they teach. This class comes directly from the source!
Live online training covers 5 modules filled with essential information included on the Security+ certification exam. This bundle also features a learning tool that tests you before you start reviewing to assess what your weak areas are to maximize your learning. Access to CertMaster labs allows you to experience real-world applications of what you learn before you test your skills on the exam.
Length/Time: 30 hours
This course is perfect for Cybersecurity professionals that are beginning their careers and Network Technicians that are interested in expanding their skills.
This course is provided by Total Seminars, an organization that provides certifications for schools, government agencies, and corporations. Total Seminars produces best-selling certification books on CompTIA Network+ and A+ which are certifications that are often supplemented with Security+.
This class covers important aspects of the Security+ Certification including cryptography, secure protocols, and risk management. You get lifetime access as well as the option to access the course from your phone and television so you can learn anywhere. Each module has quizzes at the end so you can be sure you learned the essential information.
Length/Time: 19 hours
Instructors: Mike Meyers
This course is perfect for students taking the Security+ certification exam and people looking to expand on the information included on CompTIA’s A+ and Network+ exams.
Reviews: Total Seminars teaches several of the highest-rated and bestseller courses for CompTIA’s certification exams. As William Young says in their 5-star review, “I've used Mike's A+ and Net+ courses previously and passed both of those exams confidently and I have no doubts that, given how clearly and enthusiastically he teaches, I will pass Sec+ as well. I've recommended his courses to everyone I know pursuing IT and I cannot stress enough how important it is that he is an engaging and high-energy teacher.”
This playlist on youtube from Professor Messer is an excellent way to review for the Security+ certification exam. Its in-depth videos cover all the topics you’ll need to know for your certification exam. The course is split into 6 sections that cover essential topics on the Security+ exam. There are course notes and practice questions available for a fee, but the online video portion of the course is completely free!
Length/Time: 13 hrs 45 min
This course is perfect for someone looking to review or prep for the Security+ exam on a budget.
The CISSP(Certified Information Systems Securities Professional) certification is by far the most popular and slightly more advanced exam. CISSP includes 8 CISSP Domains: Security and Risk Management, Asset Security, Security Architecture and Engineering, Communications and Network Security, Identity and Access Management, Security Assessment and Testing, Security Operations, and Software Development Security.
(ISC)2 is the organization that created the CISSP exam, so it makes sense to get test prep from them. Their classes are taught by (ISC)2 authorized professionals so you know you’re learning the right material. You’ll review information security concepts and the eight domains that make up the common body of knowledge (CBK). These include Security and Risk Management, Asset Security, Security Architecture and Engineering, Communications and Network Security, Identity and Access Management (IAM), Security Assessment and Testing, Security Operations, and Software Development Security.
Length/Time: 8 weeks // 5 hours per week
This course is perfect for professionals with at least 5 years of career experience in at least two of the 8 CISSP domains
These CISSP certification courses from Thor Teaches on Udemy are made up of videos, study guides, and practice questions. It’s a perfect way to supplement your knowledge when reviewing for the CISSP exam. The courses are split into 4 modules with each covering 2 domains of the CISSP exam. Each module has domain-specific study guides and questions to ensure the viewer understands how the CISSP exam will test their knowledge.
Length/Time: 4 modules // 23.5 hours total
Instructors: Thor Pederson
Price: $469.96 or $119.99 per module
This course is perfect for students interested in learning about management-level IT cybersecurity and passing the CISSP certification exam.
Reviews: Thor Teaches has the highest rated CISSP courses on Udemy with thousands of positive reviews. As Marshall E. says in their 5-star review, “Thor has an overwhelming amount of knowledge on Domain 1 and 2. He is able to clearly paint a picture of the critical areas to focus on, and separate out secondary areas you should have knowledge of but not spend a lot of time focusing on.”
This is a high-intensity course from the SANS institute for experienced professionals that are trying to earn their CISSP certification. The course has flexible live online hours as well as on-demand training so it’s possible to learn at a pace that fits your schedule.
You’ll discuss the critical components of the 8 domains of the CISSP exam and how they relate to one another. The course includes labs that are repeatable and mp3 files of the lectures so you don’t miss anything. It also has practice questions so you can test your skills before attempting the exam. As Leigh L says in her review, "This is a must for anyone who is considering taking the CISSP® exam."
Length/Time: 55 hours
This course is perfect for security professionals interested in becoming familiar with concepts of cybersecurity and Managers who want to understand critical areas of cybersecurity.
Networking and Cybersecurity go hand-in-hand, so while you may not need to pass the Network+ Exam in order to be a cybersecurity professional, this exam will make you a better and more informed cybersecurity pro.
This prep course from Dion Training Solutions from Udemy is meant to give students a chance to review before they take the Network+ certification exam. Clear instruction and depth of topics make this course one of the best options for people looking to brush up on their knowledge before attempting the exam. It’s recommended that students are familiar with concepts in the CompTIA A+ certification.
This course contains 10 modules that cover foundational concepts of managing networks before as well as how these concepts relate to the Network+ certification. It includes a practice exam at the end so you can be sure you’re ready to pass the exam before attempting it.
Length/Time: 14.5 hours
Instructors: Jason Dion
This course is perfect for beginners and people looking to expand on the knowledge required for CompTIA A+.
Reviews: This course is ranked highest rated on Udemy and has many glowing reviews. Here are two reviews that stood out to us:
“Jason Dion is the best instructor ever, he gives you a very detailed but yet simple explanation, so you are able to understand the material. I am a newbie in the IT field, zero experience and I am super confident that when I finish studying I will pass the exam. I looked into this course due to it being recommended by others who passed their exams.” – Brianna V. | 5 Stars
“Just passed my test today! I used this course (watched multiple times) and your practice tests. Thanks for all of your help! You have literally changed my life for the better.” – Steve D. | 5 Stars
This live online exam training bundle from CompTIA is a smart choice for prospective students since it comes straight from the source. It even includes an exam voucher in the purchase price so you can shift straight to the exam with no extra cost!
You’ll cover all of the components of the Network+ exam and test your skills in labs that simulate real-life situations. This bundle includes access to CompTIA’s learning tool, a program that tests your knowledge and identifies problem areas that you need to work on.
Length/Time: 30 hours
This course is perfect for people looking to build a career in network administration and management.
This advanced GCIH (GIAC Certified Incident Handler)certification is perfect for incident handlers, system administrators, and security architects.
SANS Institute is the GIAC’s preferred affiliate when it comes to testing training. This 5-day course is meant to give students all the skills they need to complete the certification in a dense, information-rich course.
This course covers the key components of network security that are tested by GIAC. Each module covers a different aspect of the attacks you might face with a capstone capture the flag event at the end to test your skills in a realistic scenario.
Length/Time: 50 hours
This course is perfect for System Administrators, Incident Handlers, and other cybersecurity personnel.
Reviews: Joshua N says, “SEC504 has been the single best course I have ever taken. It leaves the student prepared and able to understand a broad scope of content in security.” And Evan B says "SEC504 is a great class overall that is perfect for pen testers and defenders alike. It has greatly helped me understand how attackers think, how they gather information, and how they maintain and gain control of systems."
Infosec’s GCIH bootcamp is an excellent alternative to SANS Institute’s rigorous training course. This 5-day class is loaded with information and labs to ensure you’re ready to test when you finish.
This course covers the foundations of incident response and teaches you how to work through the 5 stages of containing and eradicating a threat to your network. It’s recommended that students have basic experience in both Linux and general cybersecurity concepts.
Length/Time: 5 days
This course is perfect for law enforcement, legal professionals, and IT professionals tasked with incident response
Once you decide on an exam and a prep course, read up on tips for successfully taking these cybersecurity exams. Have you taken one of these certification prep courses? Share your experience in the comments below!
Joseph Eaton is a freelance writer and photographer who enjoys taking pictures of outdoor action sports and writing about tech. He was born and raised in North Carolina where he currently lives.
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