I always am looking to maximize my studying and learning experiences, so after self study I always consider boot camp training. I myself did a cert through InfoSec institute/Intense School and enjoyed it. I have also taken classes through Training Camp. My thoughts at this time:
The Training Camp (A+, Net+): My introduction to boot camps, what an experience, long days filled with learning with IT focused individuals in a good isolated environment. Good company and I went into the exams confident in my ability to pass the exams and retain the knowledge, most of which I retained years down the line. Pros- The price of the camp included the hotel stay, trust me, I would recommend that all camps do this, it makes managing your training budget SOO much easier. Today this is an optional add on not included by default, but I think they have a better rate than the "discounted rates" offered by most training companies.
SANS (GCIH-Online): I loved this course, my only regret being that I could not attend in person, and I couldnt get the time off to actually attend the class daily like I wanted. This, more than anything is why I still havent taken the GCIH. con- The online method I had took place over an extended period, like 2 months? So I couldnt take the time off. (they could have let me come in late those days but no....) try to work this out with your company.
Intense School/ISI (CEH/CPT): I took this course online and I have to say, I enjoyed the content of the course. Engaging material and a knowledgeable instructor. Honestly I think they have a decent online program, and the prices are right for online, but I think I just prefer live environments. I will say that I fully recommend their CPT/CEPT practical certifications
Intense School/ISI (CCNA/CCNA Security): I am in this program now, and my feelings are mixed. pro's-The company was willing to work with me on getting the materials shipped to my overseas location, and when the CCNA Sec exam expired they offered to ship me the new cisco press book, when I brought it up. The videos are very interesting in the fact that they defiantly spend time laying out and explaining the OSI model and the other subjects, I think there is a video for each layer, about 45-60 min. This can defiantly be a benefit over reading a few lines of Odom. cons- The videos and the company supplied book are not meant to go together, as is the case of the above mentioned course, the book is good, but if you have a question about the book, if the videos were complementary, you could possibly get clarification from the video. Also with this package the exam vouchers are not included (this may or may not be the case with all their online training.).
Global Knowledge: I have yet to take training through them but I really want to (anyone want to sponsor me? I'll give a full review!) They have an amazing number of courses and it looks like they run fairly often. Some of the training is hard to find elsewhere, and they have really good deals and discounts (for gov/mil, you can take a $3500 for $2500!!) including bogo's and free appliances for their checkpoint courses. They also have technology based courses that are seemingly geared more towards teaching a technology (hands on?) rather than a certification. (though they may line up). For example:
MCITP: Server Administrator / MCSA: Windows Server 2008 Boot Camp
MCITP: Server and Enterprise Administrator Combo Boot Camp
Configuring and Troubleshooting Windows Server 2008 Active Directory Domain Services (M6425)
Configuring and Troubleshooting Identity and Access Solutions with Windows Server 2008 Active Directory (M6426)
Two Paths To Take
Certification Path - If your primary focus is obtaining your certification quickly, we offer Boot Camps to prepare experienced students for all the exams they will need to take.
Skills-Building Path - If your focus is on building your skills first, we offer individual courses that both train you for the real world and provide content covered in the exams.
Security University (QND)- A smaller company than most, but perhaps not as small as you would expect, You will probably be pleased to meet the CEO of the company during your stay and you will see her over the course of your class, I was suprised to see her setting up classrooms with instuctors, getting the food and coffee ready. Her instructors are knowledgable, and approachable. This company provides mostly security courses built around a line of SU certifications, roughly in line with the EC-Council line they also offer vendor certifications I remember there was a wireless class going on at the same time, I think it was WCNA/CP. pros-Many. Having payed for my course with the GI Bill the course felt "free" to me. Trust me that is a relief. It says something that the company was willing to take the time to be eligible for VA funding in this way, few do, and most are a hastle to try to set up the process, or try to limit your use of the program. For me the process was simple, and I was able to take an enjoyable course with a practical exam. cons- nothing significant that I can think of about the company itself, except the website needs a little work. Viable alternatives to the ECC certs from what I see so far.
the learning tree: took a work sponsored share point class through them years ago. decent class, learned a bit, though it was mostly a power user level class, the techs spent most of the week "hacking" each others sharepoint portals and changing backrounds and other stuff. (the hacking was logging in with the default pws assigned to the class). The instructor got in on it in the last day I think. pro-they have a sans course advertised, I dont know how they are able to do that, but I would be interested in seeing a review of it.
CED Solutions: Expensive, but intriguing. The offer round trip airfare and lodging at some locations. This can equal big savings! Based on what I can see, this is a pure boot camp experience (minus the brain dumps to my knowledge). Long courses, and combined certifications (MCITP SA/EA+CCNA/CCDA, CEH+CHFI+ECSA, ect) This can make for one heck of a 2 week vacation. Pro- The longer class time can equal more retained knowledge for many students.
Words of advice:
If you, like me are paying for training out of pocket, I believe that self-study is useful you can prep for your course, and sometimes, may find that you have studied to the point of not needing to pay for an expensive course. Your biggest enemy is time and motivation, if you have these, you can train yourself to learn many skills, and of course many certs. I am ideally a professor of instructor led training, so I offer this advice.
Planning: plan your expenses, find the cheapest travel options, consider the cost of plane tickets vs driving to the camp location, it can be useful to have the use of a vehicle, so if you plan to fly, consider a rental. For some courses you my not want to have the distraction, but it can be useful. Lodging- If the cost of lodging isnt included, make sure you do your research. most training providers will have discounted rates. But you can increase your savings by checking into a discount hotel or motel that costs 60 bucks a night vs $100 at "discount". This really adds up when combining courses or courses over 5-6 days. You can also save if you can cut things from the "included" cost of the course. While I dont imagine you could have them cut the cost of foods provided for the guests, you could purchase your own vouchers (or have them payed for by WGU or some other method... ) If you already have the official materials from the vendor, why are you paying for them again, ask them if they are included in the course, then nicely tell them you dont need them and ask them to cut the price.
So there it is, the combined knowledge of my boot camp experience, I hope this provided some useful insight.