The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offers insights into the value of a cybersecurity career. Job opportunities in cybersecurity are expected to grow 32% in the next 10 years, which is faster than most other occupations. This field is also lucrative.
An information security analyst, for example, earns a median salary of $112,000 per year. Considering that the median salary in the U.S. in 2023 is $59,428, a cybersecurity salary is above average. McKinsey also reports that there are 3.5 million cybersecurity positions worldwide. About 85% of small and midsize businesses also plan to increase their cybersecurity spending.
According to Emeritus, there is very high demand for cybersecurity experts around the world.
However, cybersecurity requires advanced technical knowledge and continuous learning to combat well known and emerging threats like quishing. The courses in this guide are all online, so you can study at your own pace. These range from short courses for beginners to undergraduate degrees.
Note: As at this time (October 2023), some of these courses have tuition discounts. In addition, the salary projections are based on Glassdoor data between September and October 2023.
Based on intense analysis carried out by IT Companies Network backed over a decade of experience in this sector, these are the best cybersecurity courses:
If you are specifically interested in free courses, please check our comprehensive list of free cybersecurity courses right now.
1. IBM Professional Certificate in Cybersecurity Analyst via edX
Duration: 9 months
Cost: $1,072.80 (discounted from $1,192)
This program gives students a good entry into cybersecurity careers. It covers key cybersecurity concepts over eight courses, from basics to hands-on projects. It also includes virtual labs that simulate real cybersecurity breaches. The core modules in this course include:
- Operating system security
- Network and database security
- Penetration testing and incident response
- Cybersecurity compliance
- Threat intelligence.
Speaking of penetration testing, it’s important to distinguish it from vulnerability scanning. We have a detailed article discussing the key differences between penetration testing and vulnerability scanning.
Instructors are part of the IBM Skills Network, which offers upskilling courses for individuals, enterprises, and learning institutions. It's important to note that this certification has more value to companies built on IBM infrastructure. Otherwise, organizations that rely on Microsoft or Google infrastructure may prefer candidates with specific certifications from these companies.
Graduates can launch careers as information security analysts, earning a median salary of $112,000. There are nearly 17,000 job opportunities for cybersecurity analysts every year.
2. Google Cybersecurity Professional Certification via Coursera
Duration: 6 months
Cost: $49 per month after a 7-day free trial
This course is taught by Google cybersecurity experts who focus on critical skills for a successful career.
The course is recognized by over 150 employers, including Google, American Express, and Deloitte. Like the IBM certification above, this course is more valuable to employers who use Google infrastructure. Students can learn critical skills like:
- Python and SQL programming
- Intrusion detection systems (IDS)
- Security information and event management (SIEM) tools
According to Coursera, 75% of graduates see a positive outcome in their careers within 6 months of completing the course.
3. Microsoft Certified: Security Operations Analyst Associate
Duration: 13 hours
Prerequisites: Knowledge of Microsoft 365, Azure, Windows and Linux OS
This course is ideal for individuals seeking to understand Microsoft Security technologies. It is essentially a threat mitigation course using tools like Microsoft 365 Defender and Microsoft Sentinel. It teaches how to reduce organizational risks by monitoring and responding to cyber threats.
As a student in this course, you can opt for self-paced learning or have an instructor to guide you through the modules.
The course also prepares you for the SC-200 exam, which is a Microsoft security operations assessment. About 70% of students pass the exam and qualify for cybersecurity jobs. A security engineer with this certification can earn an average of $114,949 per year.
In addition, students should be aware of this course’s certification renewal requirements. Renewals are free of charge and conducted every six months. The renewal assessment tests the same skills as the certification exam, which include:
- Deploying Microsoft Defender
- Managing Microsoft Sentinel workspaces
- Connecting Microsoft services to Sentinel
- Using audit features in Microsoft Purview Standard to investigate threats.
However, the renewal exam focuses more on technology and industry updates. Once passed, the certification is extended for a year.
4. Complete Introduction to Cybersecurity 2023 via Udemy
Duration: 2 hours 40 min
Cost: $16.99 (discounted from $74.99)
This course is designed to teach cybersecurity from scratch in the shortest possible time. It comprises 40 lectures lasting between 15 minutes and just over an hour long. These lectures cover topics like:
- IT fundamentals, e.g., computer hardware, software, and cloud computing
- Physical and virtual cyber attacks
- Cybersecurity technologies and software.
It’s important that you know how to pace yourself for this course. While it is very highly rated, some students have noted that the delivery is quite fast. Udemy offers full lifetime access, so you can still use the course content after you complete the program. The course content is on demand and accessible on TV and mobile devices.
5. The Open University Introduction to Cybersecurity
Duration: 8 weeks
Cost: $159 one-off, or $244.99 for 1 year unlimited subscription
The Introduction to Cybersecurity course enables students to identify and manage cybersecurity threats. It covers topics like authentication, malware, and cryptography. It is accredited by the leading cybersecurity institutions in the UK. This gives the certificate global recognition. These institutions are:
- APM Group (Association of Project Managers)
- The Chartered Institute of Information Security (CIISec) (formerly Institute of Information Security Professionals (IISP))
- The National Cyber Security Center (NCSC)
So far, over 344,000 students have taken this course. It is a good foundation for more advanced cybersecurity courses. If you are looking for great opportunities in entry-level cybersecurity jobs, this is the right course to unlock them. For example, an IT support specialist can earn an average salary of $54,223 per year.
6. AWS Certified Security Specialty 2023 via Udemy
Duration: 34 hours
Prerequisites: AWS basic knowledge or AWS solutions architect experience
This widely-recognized course uses real-world labs to teach cybersecurity in the AWS environment. Students gain deep insights into cybersecurity for enterprises. It covers the six domains of AWS security:
- Threat detection and incident response
- Security logging and monitoring
- Infrastructure security
- Identity and access management (IAM)
- Data protection
- Management and security governance.
The course also serves as preparation for the SCS-C02 exam, which is the AWS specialty certification. This exam costs $300 and gives graduates more credibility as a cybersecurity expert.
According to Lightcast, there are 232 jobs requiring this certification as of October 2023. These jobs include cybersecurity engineers, cloud security architects, and AWS infrastructure engineers.
7. The Complete Cyber Security Course by StationX
Duration: 50 hours
Prerequisites: Basic knowledge of networking and operating systems
This program is a set of four cybersecurity courses designed for beginners. It focuses on practical skills to help students navigate cybersecurity threats in everyday life.
You will have lifetime unlimited access to course materials after enrolment. The main skills learned from this course include:
- Identifying and stopping hackers
- Using advanced anonymous browsing techniques
- Network and WiFi security
- Anti-virus and malware best practices
As a bonus, you’ll get a 200-page companion ebook and a question-and-answer (Q&A) forum.
StationX courses are typically ideal for preparing for certification exams like Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) and Certified Information Security Manager (CISM). These can increase the chances of getting cloud engineering jobs that earn an average of $114,617 per year.
8. Professional Certificate in Cybersecurity Essentials by EC-Council via edX
Duration: 1 month
Cost: $348.30 (discounted from $387)
- Network Defense Essentials (NDE), which covers network security
- Ethical Hacking Essentials (EHE), which covers penetration testing and cyber threat fundamentals
- Digital Forensics Essentials (DFE), which covers computer forensics for dark web, Windows and Linux environments.
It’s important to note that each of these courses has its own certification exam. Once complete, students can opt to pursue specializations like Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH).
According to the EC-Council, half of CEH graduates get promotions, and 92% of recruiters prefer candidates with this certification. These courses can help to secure cybersecurity specialist jobs which pay an average of $105,532 per year.
9. Cybersecurity for Managers: A Playbook by MIT
Duration: 6 weeks
Prerequisites: Business management experience at any level
The MIT Sloan School of Management designed this course for non-technical business leaders. These include entrepreneurs, general managers, and C-level executives in any industry. It teaches cybersecurity awareness in terms of assessing risks and technologies for an organization. The playbook has six modules:
- Understanding the threat landscape
- Organizing cyber management priorities
- Measuring risk exposure
- Improving defenses with systems and technology
- Building a culture of cybersecurity
- Exploring ethics in cybersecurity
Students gain a practical understanding of how to implement cybersecurity policies in the workplace. This course can enable graduates to work as knowledge managers. This role involves governing company data using cybersecurity best practices. Knowledge managers earn an average of $87,341 per year.
10. Cybrary Insider Pro
Duration: 2 months
Cost: Free but limited access, or $29 for one month
The Cybrary Insider Pro is an IT and cybersecurity foundation course for beginners. It covers skills like firewalls, cryptography, and vulnerability scanning. Graduates can venture into any cybersecurity specialization upon completion, such as:
- Incident handling
- Penetration testing
- Network engineering
The Cybrary pricing method allows for free access but with certain limitations. A free subscription means students can only access 25% of the modules. In addition, you can upgrade from a one-month subscription to an annual membership. That gives you more time with the course materials. Graduates can pursue careers as chief information security officers (CISO). A CISO earns an average of $301,907 per year.
11. Online Undergraduate Certificate in Cyber Threat Hunting by University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC)
Duration: 1 year (18 credits)
- $318 per credit (in-state)
- $499 per credit (out-of-state)
- $250 per credit for military students
Prerequisites: Must be an admitted student of UMGC
UMGC undergraduate certificate courses are a way for enrolled students to gain specialized credentials alongside their degrees. The Cyber Threat Hunting course is ideal for students pursuing both technical and non-technical degrees. It teaches the tried-and-true methods of uncovering cyber threats and covers the following courses, each worth three credits:
- Fundamentals of computer troubleshooting
- Fundamentals of networking
- Network security
- Ethical hacking
- Penetration testing and cyber red teaming
- Threat management and vulnerability assessment
According to ZipRecruiter, cyber threat hunting jobs pay between $47 and $65 per hour. However, a cyber threat hunter must be prepared to work outside of business hours and on call. This is because cyber attacks can happen any moment.
We have a resource covering network security, specifically network security certifications.
12. Online BSc in Cybersecurity from Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)
Duration: 4 years (120 credits)
- $990 per credit
- $231 per credit for military students and their spouses
Prerequisites: Minimum high school GPA of 2.0 ©
This is a fully online degree course in cyber security that prospective students can apply for at any time. There are six starting dates distributed throughout the year. This means prospective students can match enrollment to their schedules.
The course brochure indicates that this course is not for US residents. International students are welcome to apply. This degree is also validated by the National Security Agency (NSA) as a cyber defense program.
The degree offers concentrations in data analytics and project management. This means you learn how to identify cybersecurity challenges in a business context. Graduates can work as cybersecurity managers, earning an average of $162,487 per year.
13. Bachelor of Cyber Security from the International University of Applied Sciences
Duration: 6 semesters, with three completion options:
- 36 months full-time
- 48 months part-time
- 72 months part-time
- Full-time: €192/$202 per month (discounted from €583/$613)
- Part-time 48 months: €161/$170 per month (discounted from €489/$514)
- Part-time 72 months: €124/$130 per month (discounted from €375/$394)
- High school diploma
- English language proficiency
- Application documents in English or German
This online degree course is one of the most flexible cybersecurity programs today. Students can enroll and start at any time. Although it is an EU program, the degree is internationally recognized. You can transfer credits to other schools to further your cybersecurity education. The program covers four key areas:
- Digital forensics
- Distributed applications and cloud computing
- Risk management
- Data analysis
With this course, you can work in a wide range of industries, including healthcare, finance, and retail. One valuable career path is as a digital forensic analyst, earning an average of $83,159 per year.
14. Network Engineering + CyberOps Training by NGT Academy
Duration: 480 hours
Prerequisites: Basic IT knowledge
This course is designed for what the academy calls «zero to engineer students». It means that anyone can apply. Students can start with no technical background and graduate as cybersecurity experts.
That said, the training is more beneficial for students who already have a technical degree. Experience in IT or the military is also an added advantage. You can can get 9 networking and cybersecurity certifications within the course, including:
- CompTIA Network+
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
- Full Stack Network Associate (FSNA)
- Full Stack Network Engineer (FSNE)
According to Trustpilot, NGT Academy is among the top three schools for cybersecurity and network engineering. Students get dedicated career coaching to secure a cybersecurity job upon completion. Graduates can qualify for a position like network defense specialist, earning an average of $95,146 per year.
15. The Complete 2023 Cybersecurity Developer & IT Skills Bundle from Entrepreneur
Duration: 408 hours
Cost: $69.99 (discounted from $754.99)
This program is a comprehensive suite of 26 cybersecurity courses at great value. You learn everything from Microsoft Azure Security to ethical hacking and disaster recovery. So far, over 2,700 students have purchased this bundle. It covers important cybersecurity certifications, so you can use it to prepare for various exams including:
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- CompTIA+ PenTest
- Microsoft 365 Mobility and Security
- CertNexus Cyber Secure Coder
This bundle enables students to learn critical skills all from one platform. However, you are encouraged to organize the order of the courses to suit your individual needs. Otherwise, there is the risk of blending beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses together.
On completion, this course can enable you to specialize in cybersecurity software engineering, earning an average of $135,589 per year.
Which are the top destinations for cybersecurity talent?
A 2021 report by TechShielder looked at the best opportunities for cybersecurity experts around the world. The study found that the following locations had the most cybersecurity opportunities:
- Washington D.C.
In terms of payment, Luxembourg paid the highest salaries for cybersecurity experts, followed by Denmark, Japan, and Switzerland.
The following countries offered the most remote opportunities for cybersecurity experts:
That said, most cybersecurity jobs have education and experience requirements that applicants must meet. A survey by Burning Glass Technologies found that 65% of cybersecurity job listings required a bachelor’s degree. About 46% required 3-5 years of cybersecurity experience as well. Only a small fraction of jobs (12%) accepted applicants without degrees. Around 15% of listings required less than 2 years of experience.
Therefore, the path for a cybersecurity career at the highest level begins with a degree, followed by certifications and work experience. With this, you can easily make the most of cybersecurity courses and tap into this rewarding career.
While still here, you might want to check the best free certifications in cybersecurity.