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Navigating to your first cybersecurity role presents myriad options. Today, we’ll dissect the merits and downsides of certifications and then pivot to explore learning paths. While the community often engages in spirited debates about certifications, our focus is clear: acquiring practical knowledge and honing skills.

Certifications: The Pros

  1. Credibility and Commitment: Certifications validate your knowledge and dedication to the field.
  2. Guided Learning: The vast expanse of cybersecurity can be daunting. Certifications guide you, ensuring comprehensive coverage of vital topics.
  3. Standing Out in the Crowd: In a teeming job market, a certification can edge out competitors, especially those with comparable experience but without certified validation.

Certifications: The Cons

  1. Heavy on the Wallet: Pursuing certifications isn’t cheap. Beyond exam fees, you often spend on study materials, specialized courses, or intensive bootcamps.
  2. Shifting Sands of Cybersecurity: The cybersecurity domain continually evolves. Today’s cutting-edge knowledge might soon become yesterday’s news.
  3. The Theoretical Trap: Certifications can tilt towards theory, sometimes overlooking hands-on skills. Relying exclusively on them might distort your grasp of the industry.

Embarking on Learning Paths

Why fixate on the endgame (certification) when the journey itself holds value? Remember, certifications ideally validate the knowledge and skills you’ve earned through diligence and dedication.

TryHackMe Learning paths

Learning Paths: The Pros

  1. Flexible Learning: With learning paths, you learn at your pace. Without the looming pressure of exams, you can dive deeper into subjects, enriching your understanding and sidestepping exam-induced stress.
  2. Value for Money: Often, learning paths cost less than full-fledged certification programs. When the primary goal is acquiring knowledge and skills, the return on investment skyrockets.

Learning Paths: The Cons

  1. Recognition Gap: Certifications have undeniable clout, aiding in clearing HR screenings and securing interviews. However, if your resume already stands out, focusing on skills, perhaps through projects or hands-on experience, can be more beneficial than accumulating more certifications. In essence, certifications, like many pursuits, can have diminishing returns.
  2. Inconsistent Quality: The quality of learning resources varies. While some resonate with learners, others might miss the mark. It’s prudent to scout reviews and sample content before committing. And remember, there’s no obligation to see through a course that doesn’t fit your learning style.


Carving out a career in cybersecurity requires a delicate balance of rigorous learning and adaptive thinking. While the pressure to stay updated can be intense, recognizing that not all learning mandates certification can ease the stress. Sometimes, the key is to delve deep, feed your curiosity, and savor the journey.

About TCM Security

TCM Security is a veteran-owned, cybersecurity services and education company founded in Charlotte, NC. Our services division has the mission of protecting people, sensitive data, and systems. With decades of combined experience, thousands of hours of practice, and core values from our time in service, we use our skill set to secure your environment. The TCM Security Academy is an educational platform dedicated to providing affordable, top-notch cybersecurity training to our individual students and corporate clients including both self-paced and instructor-led online courses as well as custom training solutions. We also provide several vendor-agnostic, practical hands-on certification exams to ensure proven job-ready skills to prospective employers.

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