Written By Jess Feldman
Cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing fields in tech, with the field projected to grow by 33% during this decade. To help fill a large skills gap, DigitalCrafts has launched an online Cybersecurity Bootcamp. Gareth Marchant, Cybersecurity Expert and Curriculum Creator at DigitalCrafts, explains how the bootcamp’s curriculum and labs are giving DigitalCrafts students the hands-on practice they need to hit the ground running in their career. Find out how DigitalCrafts is helping bootcamp students pass their CompTIA Security+ certification, and Gareth’s advice and resources for anyone new to cybersecurity.
Meet the Expert: Gareth Marchant, DigitalCrafts Curriculum Creator
Why did DigitalCrafts decide to expand to cybersecurity in 2022?
It’s a natural progression for DigitalCrafts. DigitalCrafts has been teaching web development for a long time, and that’s a hands-on, technical, and high-demand field. Cybersecurity has a similar approach where the subject matter is technical, practical, hands-on, and lab-based. DigitalCrafts is taking their experience in that space and now applying it to how they teach cybersecurity to help students break into the field.
Why is cybersecurity such a good career path in 2022?
There’s a huge demand in cybersecurity! There’s more of a need for cybersecurity than there are people to fill those positions, and that generally translates to lots of career opportunities. Working in cybersecurity means that you’re genuinely helping keep people’s businesses safe and secure, and that’s rewarding work. Generally, organizations with cybersecurity programs are good employers to work for with good salaries and a great work environment.
What can students expect to learn in the Cybersecurity Bootcamp at DigitalCrafts?
The cybersecurity curriculum is comprehensive. It’s split into seven main modules which include things like operating systems, networking, and cloud security. We also have modules on offensive and defensive security and cyber operations. At the end of the program, there’s a focus on cybersecurity certification.
At DigitalCrafts, we know it’s important to keep in mind that cybersecurity means securing IT, so in order to help our students be as proficient and effective as possible, the curriculum includes IT subjects as well. By the time students get to the end of the program and finish the labs and theory, they have a comprehensive understanding of the field.
Is it possible for DigitalCrafts students to land a mid-level or even senior-level role after this bootcamp?
Absolutely! The Cybersecurity Bootcamp is comprehensive with many discussions about different technologies and tools. For students who may have been working in IT before the bootcamp, they may land mid or senior-level roles after the program.
What kind of cybersecurity labs will students work on during the bootcamp?
There’s so much to see, do, and learn in cybersecurity. Things like learning how to set up and work an operating system, hands-on labs, programming and reconfiguring networking equipment, working in cloud environments, and tools of the trade on the offensive and defensive sides. Students will learn different hacking tools in the labs, but perhaps more importantly, they learn tools and techniques that are used to defend against attacks. We also cover the processes that organizations use to build fences and keep eyes on the organization. We also talk about program management, leadership, and even physical security.
What’s different about a cybersecurity lab compared to a web development project?
Labs are heavily rooted in practical tasks as opposed to more abstract topics that you might learn in a computer science course. There are a lot of practical skills, and when you’re doing a cybersecurity lab — you’re really doing the work. We cover a little theory, but the labs will closely mirror the tasks you’ll do working in the field. If you do end up taking a job in the cyber realm, you’ll have familiarity with the tasks you’re assigned.
Do you need to know how to code to start a career in cybersecurity?
The short answer is no. You don’t have to know how to code. The long answer is that it’s good if you can code. As you progress, understanding code may help you in your career, but there are a lot of things to do in cyber that don’t require coding.
Which industry-recognized certifications does the Cybersecurity Bootcamp prepare students for?
The material will parallel a lot of different cybersecurity certifications, and our students will be well prepared. Our primary focus will be on CompTIA Security+ certification, and we put a lot of time in at the end of the bootcamp to help students prepare for and pass a Security+ exam. The Security+ exam is a natural way for them to demonstrate all of their learning as opposed to a course that’s focused on helping people get across the Security+ finish line. This course helps people understand how everything fits and works as well as what the tools look like and why things work the way they do. The Security+ exam should be a natural extension of that.
Students will also be able to approach other certifications, if they want, like Network+, Linux Foundations, or maybe the CySA+ certification. There are a lot of opportunities and pathways for our cybersecurity bootcamp graduates.
Why is it important that students have their CompTIA Security+ certification when starting their cybersecurity careers?
CompTIA Security+ is a well-known certification. It’s been around since 2001, which in the cybersecurity certification world is a long time. Many cybersecurity jobs will list it as a requirement. Employers want people to have Security+ because it helps an employer understand a candidate’s level of knowledge; it confirms that someone understands cybersecurity foundations. This is true for a variety of cybersecurity roles, whether it’s a technical, analytical, or leadership role.
Does DigitalCrafts tuition cover the Security+ exam cost?
DigitalCrafts gives students a voucher for the exam, which covers the total exam price. The voucher provides a lot of flexibility so students can schedule the exam when it best fits them. Students can choose to take the exam at a testing center or at home on their computer.
Does DigitalCrafts guarantee that cybersecurity students will pass the Security+ exam?
Guarantee is a tough word and you can’t guarantee anyone’s going to do anything. It’s kind of a red flag. You see places that guarantee pass rates and it usually translates to folks not being taught or learning the subjects. There isn’t a guarantee at DigitalCrafts, but everyone that leaves the program is better for it and well-suited to the Security+ exam and their cyber career.
Will students be taking the Security+ exam during or after the bootcamp?
There are several approaches students can take with this exam.
Giving everyone a voucher, gives them the flexibility to sit the exam when it best suits them.
Is there an ideal student for the cybersecurity bootcamp?
At DigitalCrafts, students can come as they are! An ideal candidate is someone with an open mind that’s open to a challenge, enjoys learning, and doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty. This program is tailored to help folks establish themselves in the field of cybersecurity. Cybersecurity covers everything from leadership to the super technical stuff. The modules we cover in the curriculum will resonate differently with our students, giving them a chance to see the whole landscape, and figure out where they fit inside it.
For some students coming from IT backgrounds, they may enroll to advance their careers. For students from management positions, they may enroll in order to be more effective and technical ready. The bootcamp has broad appeal and there’s something for everyone, but the primary focus is to help students pivot and get started at the ground level in cybersecurity.
Is this course appropriate for beginners?
It’s tailored to anyone who wants to get into cybersecurity, even if they don’t have any prior experience. It’s built to help folks understand what cyber means and what it takes to be successful in that space and flourish. Having said that, while there isn’t a need to come in with cyber experience, it’s important to have familiarity with a computer and the internet.
What can applicants expect from the admissions process?
There’s an application where you fill out essential information about yourself and your interest in the program. An enrollment coordinator will talk to the candidate to understand their motivations and expectations before they are given an exercise. There are 15 relatively simple multiple choice questions based on logic and reasoning to determine if you have the logical thought process that’s inherent with cybersecurity. If you have any questions, you can schedule an intro call with an admissions advisor anytime.
Is there pre-work for the bootcamp?
DigitalCrafts offers a free intro course to cybersecurity that highlights some of the big picture elements of the cyber program as well as some of the tools, software applications, and operating systems. It’s a combination of reading, exercises, videos, and challenges where you solve problems and it tells you if you’re correct when you submit it. It’s all self-paced which allows you to work on it whenever you want. It helps bootcamp candidates get an idea of what the program looks like. By taking the free course, you can learn whether or not cybersecurity is a good fit for you.
What types of cybersecurity roles does this bootcamp prepare students for?
People who complete the cybersecurity bootcamp will be prepared for entry-level and sometimes mid-level cyber positions, depending on experience. Bootcamp graduates could land jobs as a security analyst, security administrator, and sometimes a system administrator.
What kinds of career support can DigitalCrafts’s cybersecurity students expect?
One of the most compelling features of the program are the career service advisors at DigitalCrafts. Every student will have access to a career advisor whose job it is to help them understand what it means to land a job. Our career advisors are advocates and coaches to our students. They work hard to connect students with employers that are hiring, and help them prepare resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and prepare for interviews.
Who are the instructors for the cybersecurity bootcamp?
Instructors at DigitalCrafts are all practitioners. They are folks that have been working in the field and can use their practical skills, knowledge, and know-how. They teach you how to use the tools and convey their own experiences to relay the practical aspect of why things work a certain way and how they’re used in the workplace to solve different problems.
For our readers who are beginners, what resources do you recommend for aspiring cybersecurity professionals?
For folks that want to get a good idea of the field, I recommend the podcast called Darknet Diaries — it’s a popular show and it provides a lot of cybersecurity stories. As far as hacking, hackathons and tryhackme have great exercises for beginners.
Social media channels like Reddit, Twitter, and even Facebook have huge cybersecurity groups as well as discord channels to connect to. LinkedIn is a great resource, not just for jobs, but also for finding folks that are currently working in cybersecurity. They convey their own experiences and how they’re progressing in the field — I recommend connecting and following them.
What is your advice for students embarking on a program like this? Any tips for getting the most out of it especially if they are trying to change their careers?
Patience is always good. The cybersecurity program is built to help students acquire as many new skills as possible in the shortest amount of time possible. Cybersecurity is technical and it can be complicated.
Keep an open mind. You will need an open mind when you’re learning new ideas and technologies, especially when they are tricky to pick up. You might have to do some additional reading to keep up. Have a plan to keep notes and record what is being learned throughout the program. You can have a journal that summarizes the things you know that resonated with you and those things can be helpful.
Doing research on job sites like cyberseek.org can be helpful. These sites have information about cybersecurity careers, the skills gap, different hiring companies with descriptions of roles, and salaries.
Jess Feldman is an accomplished writer and the Content Manager at Course Report, the leading platform for career changers who are exploring coding bootcamps.
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