Those looking for a new career direction should consider cyber security courses. This rapidly-growing field offers high compensation and engaging new challenges. And with the best cyber security course, you can learn the skills you need to succeed.
The community at Hackr regularly submits tutorials and resources for cyber security experts. We reviewed these submissions and compiled a list of the best cyber security courses online. Our considerations included the skill of the instructors (are they experts in the field?), cost (is this a paid course or can you take it for free?), depth, and overall value. Read on to find our considerations for the best cybersecurity courses online.
Best Cybersecurity Courses Online
- Cybrary - Offers Extensive Free Courses
- The Complete Cyber Security Course - Best Cybersecurity Training for Beginners
- Harvard Cybersecurity: Managing Risk in the Information Age - Best for Business Risk Management
- Cybersecurity Certification by University of Maryland - Best for Learning to Construct Secure Systems
- MicroMasters Program in Cybersecurity (RIT | edX) - Best for Advanced Learners
- Complete Cyber Security Bundle - Best Discounted Cyber Security Course Bundle
What is Cyber Security?
If you’re asking the question “what is cyber security?,” we’ll put it in simple terms: cyber security is the defense of computers, software systems, databases, digital data and the like. It defends against bad actors such as hackers, scammers, spammers, and other malicious entities that seek to steal, damage, or otherwise compromise data and systems.
Why Take a Cyber Security Course?
Cybercrime is such a ubiquitous problem that at this point, it has simply become a part of everyday life. There are hackers, phishers, scammers, spammers, and thieves all over the place, and cyber security is the last frontier to defend against these malicious people.
Cyber security professionals are responsible for a variety of aspects involved in the field. And if you’d like to become a professional in this industry, taking a course is one of the best ways to do it.
- Can be faster - Courses can be extremely helpful in setting you up with the right knowledge and experience, and they do so rather quickly to boot. If you would like to start your career within six months to a year, taking a high-quality course from a respected institution is one of the best ways to go about it.
- More affordable - Earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in cyber security or computer science (specializing in cyber security) is another excellent way to get your foot in the door. However, traditional education can cost thousands upon thousands and may put you in serious debt. Courses are often much more affordable, even if some may cost you a few thousand.
- Can help you specialize more easily - Courses are available on a variety of aspects of cyber security. Choosing one in a niche that interests you can help you specialize more efficiently.
Perhaps the biggest reason to do your cyber security training online is the demand for cyber security professionals itself. Cyber security has been growing for quite some time now. Its revenues are expected to reach nearly $160 billion in 2022. With an expected annual growth rate of 13.33%, it’s reasonable to expect that the market volume will hit nearly $300 billion by 2027. That’s no joke.
With such rapid growth comes high demand for career professionals. Cyber security is lucrative field, with most professionals earning over six figures each year. Just look at this BLS page on information securit analysts, who earn an average of $102,600 each year. The job outlook from 2020-2030 is also a healthy 33%, a growth several times more than average.
Top Cyber Security Courses in 2023
1. Cybrary - Offers Extensive Free Courses
Our Rating: 4.4/5
- Nearly 500 free courses
- Upgrade costs $59/month paid monthly or $53/month billed annually
The cleverly named Cybrary is, as you guessed it, an online library for IT, InfoSec, and cyber security-related materials. Creating an account for free grants you access to their broad selection of free courses which you can filter by skill level or vendor (Microsoft, Cisco, etc). Many of Cybrary’s courses focus on specific cyber security niches, which can help make it easier to choose your specialization.
- Huge library of free courses on a wide range of topics
- Courses cover many (specific) aspects of the field, making specialization easier
- Easy to browse and search courses by difficulty
- No accreditation
2. The Complete Cyber Security Course (StationX) - Best Cybersecurity Training for Beginners
Our Rating: 4.6/5
Duration: Self-paced; 50 hours of on-demand video
Price: $65 (normally $500) for this course, $149 (normally $1,199) for the annual membership
The Complete Cyber Security Course has four volumes covering topics taught by the StationX CEO (and cybersecurity expert), Nathan House. It includes all the basics you’ll need to learn as a beginner. You can sign up for the course on its own for a single payment, or sign up for an annual membership that gives you unlimited access to all the courses on the platform.
The volumes in this course are also available on Udemy individually. Volume 1 alone has had over 240,000 students and an average of 4.5 stars from more than 44,000 ratings.
- Covers everything beginning from the fundamentals
- Affordable course (when on sale), and great value for the annual membership
- Regularly updated
- Lessons can be complex sometimes
- There are few user-engaging lesson materials, such as quizzes and tests
3. Harvard Cybersecurity: Managing Risk in the Information Age - Best for Business Risk Management
Our Rating: 4.7/5
Duration: Self-paced; 8 weeks
This Harvard Cybersecurity course will teach you everything you need to know about mitigating cybersecurity risks for businesses. It is split up into eight modules, with each module taking a week. You can expect to spend eight to eleven hours on this course each week.
Finishing this short course will earn you a premier certificate from Harvard University, a prestigious credit to your resume. However, because this is a Harvard course, you can expect Harvard prices.
- Shorter course
- Covers various aspects of cyber security for businesses
- You may need more courses to start your career
4. Cybersecurity Certification by University of Maryland (Coursera) - Best for Learning to Construct Secure Systems
Our Rating: 4.5/5
Duration: 8 months
Price: 7-day free trial; then $59/month or $399/year for Coursera Plus
This specialization from Coursera and the University of Maryland is best for intermediate learners. If you just want to learn and don’t feel you need the certificate at the end, you can audit the course for free. If you’d like the certificate of completion, you’ll have to pay for the Coursera Plus membership for the duration.
This course has five modules: usable security, software security, cryptography, hardware security, and the capstone project. Although the estimate for this class is eight months, a self-paced option is available. There are plenty of readings and videos, as well as a variety of graded (with feedback) assignments and quizzes to help cement your new knowledge.
- Self-paced option is available
- Plenty of interactive learning materials (quizzes, programming assignments, etc)
- You can audit the course for free (without a certificate)
- Can get expensive if you take your time learning
- No refunds
5. MicroMasters® Program in Cybersecurity (RIT | edX) - Best for Advanced Learners
Our Rating: 4.6/5
Duration: 10 months; instructor-led; 10 - 12 hours weekly
Price: $1,436.40 (normally $1,596)
This MicroMasters® Program from the Rochester Institute of Technology covers the fundamentals as well as more advanced topics like computer forensics, network security, and cybersecurity risk management. Unlike the other programs on this list, this one is instructor-led and is not self-paced. You will need to fit the classes into your schedule.
- Earn a certificate that counts for credit toward a master’s degree
- Covers advance topics to help you boost your career
- Has a capstone project to help you truly cement your knowledge
- Takes longer to learn than some other courses
- For advanced learners only
5. The Complete 2023 Cyber Security Developer & IT Skills Bundle - Best Discounted Bundle
As an honorable mention, we wanted to highlight an in-depth bundle of courses for cyber security professionals. This bundle lists at $1,378 when purchased as individual items, but we found it for $79.99 It includes more than 100 hours of content dedicated to various aspects of the field.
For example, we found the CompTIA CASP+ (CAS-004) course included. It includes 65 lessons and 23 hours of content. Students gain lifetime access to the cyber security course with the purchase of this bundle. The Cisco CCNP Security SNCF (300-710) course also features as an attractive addition. Both courses together would normally cost over $100.
How to Choose the Best Online Cyber Security Course for You
If you’re literally just starting out in the field with no prior knowledge, how do you know which courses are good, and which ones to skip? What should you consider during your search for the perfect cybersecurity courses for beginners (or advanced users)?
The factors below might be worth looking into:
- Difficulty level - One of the first things you should be considering as you choose your course is its difficulty level. The best course for you will depend on how much knowledge and experience you’ll be bringing along with you as you begin.
- Certification - Finishing a cyber security course may or may not earn you a certificate. If you care about having this certificate of completion to add to your resume, you may want to look for courses that provide them. Note that certificates of completion are not professional certifications, and that most courses only prepare you for your eventual certification assessment. If you eventually want to get a certification, such as CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst+, you may want to look for courses that best prepare you for this purpose.
- Cost - Cybersecurity courses vary in price. There are some that are available entirely for free, and others that can cost you several thousand dollars. The best course for you will be the one that suits your budget best while still including all the knowledge you seek to learn.
- Duration - Some courses are much longer than others. If you’d like to get up and running as soon as possible, it may benefit you to seek out courses that fit within your timeframe.
Tips for Pursuing a New Career in Cyber Security
Starting a career in an entirely new field can often feel quite daunting, especially if it’s something that is entirely new to you. Along with the best cyber security courses online, the tips below might help you get started.
- Make sure the field is right for you - Many jump right into a new field simply because they’ve heard that it’s lucrative or in high demand. And while there’s nothing wrong with this, it’s best to at least do what you can to make sure you feel comfortable in a field before you fully commit. After all, although online cyber security courses can be on the affordable side of the education spectrum, you’ll often still be spending a good amount of money.
- Explore various niches in cyber security - While you’re confirming whether a career in this field is right for you, you can also look into the various areas in which you can specialize. Explore all of your options, you might just find a niche that interests you and gets you passionate!
- Join cyber security communities and network - Networking is often the key to success. Joining communities centering around cyber security can introduce you to others who are starting their careers just like you. Alternatively, you could also meet a mentor who can guide you along the way.
- Practice, practice, practice - If you would really like to prep for a career in this field, it’s not enough to know what to do and how to do it — you must also back that up with experience. You can earn experience by practicing on personal projects, joining events such as hackathons or bug bounties, or even finding an internship position in cyber security. By the time you start looking for work, you should also already know enough to be able to answer any job interview question confidently.
How We Selected the Cybersecurity Courses on This List
If you’d like to learn cyber security, you can start with the courses we’ve put together in this article. The courses we’ve chosen to put on this list include options for varying skill levels and are of high quality.
To ensure that we only put the best cybersecurity classes on this list, we made sure to do a ton of research. Besides searching high and low for some of the most popular options, we also made sure to take recommendations from past learners and cyber security pros.
Beyond that, we also made sure to check reviews where possible. We also looked into the lessons and tutorials where we could, to ensure that the course was user-friendly and relatively easy to follow.
A cyber security course can help you get your career in this highly in-demand and lucrative field started as quickly as possible. Just make sure that you consider all your options before you select which course to go with! Cyber security courses from respected institutions stand out on a resume, and discounted bundles of online cyber security courses offer major value for money.
If you think we missed any courses that should be on this list, let us know in the comments below!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Which is the best course for cyber security?
The best cybersecurity course online is the one that fits your skill level, budget, and needs best. If you’re a beginner, we recommend The Complete Cyber Security Course by StationX.
2. Is cyber security hard to study?
It can be challenging to learn cybersecurity, especially if you don’t have much of a background in computers. The right cyber security course for beginners can help you start from the fundamentals and learn as you go.
3. What qualifications do I need for cyber security?
One of the best qualifications you can have is a bachelor’s or master’s degree in fields like IT, cyber security, computer science, and network engineering, although other STEM fields also work. If you do not have a degree, then you must at least have completed a cybersecurity course from a respected institution. You can also greatly benefit from a professional cybersecurity certification (such as CompTIA). Finally, experience is incredibly important to getting hired.
4. Can I learn cyber security in 2 months?
You might be able to, but it truly depends on what level you are starting from and how much time you dedicate to learning. If you are already relatively knowledgeable in computer science and are willing to study full time, two months can be enough.