Cyber Security 101: How to Learn the Fundamentals and Break into the Field without a Degree


What are the most effective ways to learn cyber security without a degree?

I am a young aspiring cyber security professional with no prior tech background. I have heard of merit america, but I am not sure if it will provide me with the fundamental skills and knowledge I need to succeed in this field. I am looking for guidance on the best programs, bootcamps, and free resources that can help me learn cyber security from scratch. I am not aiming for a high salary, but rather a meaningful and rewarding career. Thank you for your expert advice and help.


Cyber security is one of the most in-demand and rewarding fields in the tech industry, but it can also be intimidating for beginners who have no formal education or experience in this domain. However, this does not mean that you cannot pursue a career in cyber security without a degree. There are many ways to learn cyber security from scratch, and some of them are even free or low-cost. In this article, we will explore some of the best options for aspiring cyber security professionals who want to start from zero and build their skills and knowledge.

Online Courses and Certifications

One of the most popular and accessible ways to learn cyber security is through online courses and certifications. There are many platforms that offer high-quality and comprehensive courses on various topics related to cyber security, such as cryptography, network security, ethical hacking, malware analysis, digital forensics, and more. Some of these platforms are Coursera, edX, Udemy, Cybrary, and Pluralsight. These courses are usually self-paced and flexible, and they often include quizzes, assignments, and projects to test your learning and apply your skills.

Another benefit of online courses is that they can help you prepare for industry-recognized certifications, which can boost your resume and credibility as a cyber security professional. Some of the most common and valuable certifications are CompTIA Security+, CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker), CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), and OSCP (Offensive Security Certified Professional). These certifications require you to pass an exam or a practical challenge, and they demonstrate your knowledge and skills in various aspects of cyber security. However, they also have different levels of difficulty and prerequisites, so you should research them carefully and choose the ones that suit your goals and background.

Bootcamps and Mentorship Programs

Another option for learning cyber security without a degree is to enroll in a bootcamp or a mentorship program. These are intensive and immersive programs that aim to teach you the essential skills and tools of cyber security in a short period of time, usually ranging from a few weeks to a few months. They often combine lectures, workshops, labs, and projects, and they provide you with guidance and feedback from instructors and mentors who are experienced cyber security professionals. Some examples of bootcamps and mentorship programs are Evolve Security Academy, SecureSet Academy, Springboard, and Hack The Box Academy.

The main advantage of bootcamps and mentorship programs is that they can help you build a portfolio of projects and a network of contacts that can help you land a job or an internship in cyber security. They can also provide you with career support and coaching, such as resume review, interview preparation, and job placement assistance. However, they also have some drawbacks, such as high cost, time commitment, and competitive admission. Therefore, you should weigh the pros and cons of these programs and compare them with your budget, schedule, and learning style.

Free Resources and Self-Study

If you are on a tight budget or prefer to learn at your own pace, you can also take advantage of the many free resources and self-study materials that are available online. These include blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels, books, ebooks, newsletters, forums, and online communities that cover various topics and aspects of cyber security. Some of these resources are Cybersecurity for Beginners, The CyberWire, HackerSploit, Hacking: The Art of Exploitation, OWASP Top 10, and Reddit’s r/netsec. These resources can help you stay updated on the latest trends and developments in cyber security, learn new skills and techniques, and interact with other learners and experts.

However, learning cyber security from free resources and self-study requires a lot of motivation, discipline, and curiosity. You will have to set your own goals and milestones, find your own sources of information and inspiration, and overcome your own challenges and doubts. You will also have to practice your skills and apply your knowledge in real-world scenarios, such as CTFs (Capture the Flag), hackathons, bug bounties, and pentesting labs. Some of these platforms are Hack The Box, TryHackMe, VulnHub, and HackerOne. These platforms can help you gain hands-on experience and confidence in cyber security, as well as earn rewards and recognition for your achievements.


In conclusion, there are many ways to learn cyber security without a degree, and each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. You should choose the one that best fits your needs, preferences, and goals, and that can help you achieve your desired career outcomes. However, regardless of the method you choose, you should always remember that cyber security is a dynamic and evolving field that requires constant learning and improvement. Therefore, you should never stop exploring, experimenting, and challenging yourself, and always seek new opportunities to grow and excel as a cyber security professional.

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