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SANS CyberTalent Immersion Academy


Find a Rewarding Career in Cybersecurity

There is a shortage of cybersecurity talent and the demand for skilled professionals continues to grow. In 2016, there were 348,640 cybersecurity jobs left unfilled because organizations could not find talent with the right skill sets. To help fill the skills gap, the SANS Institute created the SANS CyberTalent Immersion Academy, an intensive, accelerated training program that provides SANS world class training and GIAC certifications to quickly and effectively launch careers in cybersecurity.

SANS CyberTalent Immersion Academies are 100% scholarship based for participants. Academies are offered throughout the year in a variety of locations.

The VetSuccess Academies are open to:

  • Transitioning service members not more than six months away from separation.
  • Veterans less than five years out of the service who are neither currently working in the information security field nor who have prior information security work experience outside of the military service.

Preferred degrees and experience for applicants (you only need one of the three below):

  • Hold a bachelor's degree and have at least 1 year of work experience in information technology, information security, audit, signal, I & A or other communications branch
  • Hold an associate's degree and have at least 3 years of work experience in information technology, information security, audit, signal, I & A or other communications branch
  • Those without a college degree must hold at least 3-5 years of work experience in information technology, information security, audit, signal, I & A or other communications branch

Click here for a list of Current VetSuccess Academies and the admission requirements.

The Women's Immersion Academy is open to:

  1. Senior in college; preferably (not required) pursuing a degree in a Computer/IT-related field or technical STEM discipline.
  2. College graduate and career changers currently not working in the information security field or with prior work experience from the information security field.
  3. Must be a U.S. citizens or a permanent legal resident (Green card holder) currently residing in the U.S.

Click here for a list of Current Women's Academies and the admission requirements.

How the Program Works

Candidates meeting the Academy requirements will take the SANS CyberTalent Enhanced Assessment, and based on the result, they may be invited to submit a full application. Candidates invited to submit an application may advance to the next step for a personal interview. The Admission Committee will determine which candidates are accepted and will notify them of next steps.

Students will complete up to three SANS courses and industry-leading certifications.

SANS Core Courses GIAC Certification
SEC401: SANS Security Essentials Boot Camp Style GSEC GIAC Security Essentials

SEC504: Hacker Techniques, Exploits & Incident Handling

GCIH GIAC Certified Incident Handler

THIRD COURSE IS ELECTIVE. TYPICAL SELECTIONS INCLUDE:

Elective Courses GIAC Certification
FOR500: Windows Forensic Analysis GCFE GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner

ICS410: ICS/SCADA Security Essentials

GICSP Global Industrial Cybersecurity Professional
SEC501: Advanced Security Essentials, Enterprise Defender GCED GIAC Certified Enterprise Defender

SEC503: Intrusion Detection In-Depth

GCIA GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst
SEC542: Web App Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking GWAPT GIAC Certified Web Application Penetration Tester

SEC560: Network Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking

GPEN GIAC Certified Penetration Tester

Time Commitment for Students

The Academy is a fast-track, intensive program and students are expected to complete all coursework and certifications within the designated Academy schedule. On average, it takes most SANS students 80 hours to prepare for one GIAC certification attempt.

The first course for each cohort is the SEC401: SANS Security Essential Bootcamp style which will be taken in a live classroom environment, at the location listed for each particular Academy. The course will run for six full days and all students are required to attend. The second and third courses are taken online via SANS OnDemand and are self-paced. Students are required to complete the course and the certification in 5 to 8 weeks depending on the particular Academy's schedule.

Course Set Up

All students will begin their academy program by attending SEC401 live for six full days at their preferred location i.e. the academy the student applied to.

For VetSuccess Academies; students attend SEC401 live for six days and continue to study SEC401 at home for an additional four weeks preparing for the GIAC certification exam.

Students who successfully pass the certification exam move on to SEC504 via SANS OnDemand and will have four to five weeks to complete the OnDemand course and certification exam. Students who opt-in to pursue a third course and certification will have four to five weeks to complete the course via SANS OnDemand as well.

For the Women's Academy; students continue to study SEC401 at home for an additional seven weeks after the six days onsite, preparing for the GIAC certification exam. Students who successfully pass the certification exam move on to SEC504 via SANS OnDemand and have eight weeks to complete the course and certification exam.

Students who opt-in to pursue a third course and certification will have eight weeks to complete the course via SANS OnDemand as well.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are excited about this program and meet the basic requirements above, we invite you to review our Current Academies page to see which Academies are of interest. Please review the qualifications for each Academy as there may be different or advanced requirements for each.

If you have questions, please contact us at immersionacademy@sans.org.


4 Steps to a Cybersecurity Career

Qualify - Earn Acceptance

Demonstrate your aptitude and skills using SANS CyberTalent Assessment and participate in admissions process and interviews.

Read More


Train - Build Elite Skills

Develop real-world knowledge and practical, hands-on skills by completing world-class SANS training courses.

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Certify - Earn GIAC Certifications

Complete courses by earning GIAC certifications, recognized by employers around the world.

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Employ - Launch Career

Get access to guaranteed job opportunities at Academy sponsors - industry leaders in information security.

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"The relevance of the hands -on labs and exercises was clearly evident as we applied the skills we learned to real and recent scenarios from the security community. This instruction was a close to frontline operations as one can get without being in a production work center."

— Edmond Russell, SANS CyberTalent Immersion Academy Participant

"The whole process and academy itself is a huge success. It is phenomenal and a great, great, great resource for Veterans. I did a lot of research about programs, and found the certifications available through this program very beneficial."

— Jake Jacob, SANS CyberTalent Immersion Academy Participant

"SANS has made a deep commitment to help veteran's transition to a new career in cybersecurity. They truly value the military operational experience that does offer new insight in securing our nation's digital infrastructure. I am humbled by the generous opportunity to attain industry-leading cyber security education and certification provided by the SANS VetSuccess program. The mentoring by their entire staff is fantastic. Upon returning back to civilian life after 22 years of Naval Service, I don't feel like I missed a beat. I am busier than ever helping private industry as a consultant and the opportunities keep coming. Thank you SANS"

— Vince Garcia, Commander, USN (ret)

"The SANS VetSuccess program changed the game for me as I start a new career after the military. Initially, I was looking at entry level help desk positions as a way to break into the industry. Because of the knowledge gained through the three SANS courses, I now have an entry level position in information security. (In fact, I had a few job offers to choose from!) That's a 20k difference in salary that would have taken me a few years to achieve on my own. Holding the three GIAC certifications demonstrated to employers my solid foundation in security concepts and ability to learn quickly. The VetSuccess program has indeed set me up for a successful and rewarding career in cybersecurity. I can't thank you enough for giving me and many other veterans this amazing opportunity, and I look forward to taking many more SANS courses in the future!"

— Erin McCraw, US Army (ret.)