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Guide to financing your Cyber Security Specialist training with Swiss Federal Diploma

In the rapidly evolving digital world, the need to stay up to date in the field of cybersecurity is not just an option, but a necessity. The Swiss Cyber Institute guide to funding your further education as the Cyber Security Specialist in this critical area is your compass. We provide you with a comprehensive overview of all the funding options and schemes available to help you achieve your educational and professional goals in cybersecurity.

Whether you are at the beginning of your career or an experienced professional looking to expand your skills, this guide is customised to help you navigate the financial aspect of your continuing education. With a focus on the Swiss Federal Diploma, this guide covers everything from course and exam fees to various funding models such as federal grants, employer funding and loans.

Course and exam fees

How much does the professional examination cost?

There are two types of costs for a federal qualification at the professional examination level: school fees and a separate examination fee must be paid for the federal final examination.

Exam fees

Since 2013, federal contributions to the organisation of federal examinations have been significantly increased, which has led to a noticeable reduction in most examination fees.

Most examination fees for federal professional examinations and higher professional examinations are between CHF 1’200 and CHF 3’000. You can obtain the exact details of the examination you are aiming for either from your educational institution or from the relevant sponsoring organisation.

Course fees – now with financial support from the federal government

The amount of the course fees varies greatly depending on the sector, organising body and content of the preparatory courses. Most preparatory courses range between CHF 6,000 and 20,000. Our Cyber Security Specialist course with a federal diploma costs CHF 15’900 and includes all learning materials, licence fees, exam simulations, access to the internal hacking lab as well as the content of the entry-level cybersecurity course, Certified in Cybersecurity ISC2, and the Ethical Hacker Fundamental Training. No other Swiss educational institution offers this learning combination. The 3-in-1 training programme builds both the foundations in cybersecurity and provides advanced knowledge and skills that guarantee excellent professional development and a clear competitive advantage in the job market. We also organise regular networking events and alumni meet-ups to foster relationships with and between students over time. This creates lasting friendships, knowledge transfer, and career opportunities.        

Since 1 January 2018, graduates of courses that prepare students for a federal examination have received financial support from the federal government. The Federal Council adopted the corresponding amendment to the law on 15 September 2017.        

The regulation stipulates that graduates will be reimbursed up to 50 per cent of the eligible course fees after taking the federal examination (professional examination or higher professional examination).

For you, this means that you are entitled to a one-off 50 per cent refund and will receive CHF 7’950 back. Since 1 January 2018, an online portal has been set up on the SERI website where you can apply for a refund. 

How does the refund work? 

  1. Course participants pay for the course in full and receive a confirmation from the Swiss Cyber Institute
  2. Course participants take the federal examination and receive a confirmation from the examination organisation
  3. Course participants submit both confirmations to the federal government and – if they fulfil the conditions for support – receive the corresponding amount back
  4. In cases of hardship, it is possible for part of the money to be paid out during the course.

What are the conditions for the governmental funding? 

The basic conditions for federal support are:

  1. Residence in Switzerland
  2. Completion of an eligible preparatory course (i.e. the course must be on the SERI course list). The training course offered by Swiss Cyber Institute is one of those courses and thus eligible.
  3. Taking the federal examination (regardless of whether it is passed or not)

Are there any additional costs? 

Please note that if you wish to take the federal examination as a Cyber Security Specialist, you must pay an additional examination fee of CHF 3,200 to ICT Berufsbildung. This is a one-off payment and is non-refundable. Find out more here.

How much money do you need as a Student?

Tuition fees, accommodation, equipment, food, leisure time, travelling – there is a lot of money involved during your academic journey.

How much do you need each month to support yourself during your course? On average, a person in further education needs CHF 2’100 to CHF 3’100 per month. We have compiled a list of costs for you so that you have everything at a glance:

  • Tuition fees: These vary depending on which course you want to attend.
  • Housing: Whether you live with your parents, move into your first shared flat or your own flat makes a big difference financially.
  • Living costs: You will also have these if you are still living with your parents. This includes food as well as clothing and money for leisure activities.
  • Study location: Rents are much higher in large cities than in small towns. So your place of study is also an important factor. Fortunately, at Swiss Cyber Institute you can attend all courses online. This leaves you free to choose where you want to study.
  • Insurances: Important insurances such as health insurance and private liability insurance are unavoidable fixed costs in Switzerland and must be factored into your budget.
  • Equipment: Laptop, printer, books… think carefully about what you really need for your studies. Swiss Cyber Institute provides you with all books and teaching materials online and the costs are already included in the course fees.
  • Contracts: Every month you have to pay radio and television licence fees as well as cover the costs of mobile phone and internet tariffs.

Funding sources and financing models

Payment by instalments

It is often difficult for those interested in further education to pay for a training programme in just one payment in advance. As we at the Swiss Cyber Institute are aware of this situation and would like to enable people with fewer financial reserves to improve their professional position, we offer two, three and six instalment payments as a financing option for our Cyber Security Specialist training with Federal Diploma. Therefore, calculate your expenses carefully and clarify for yourself whether these instalments are feasible for you.  

If you are planning to study for the Cyber Security Specialist with Federal Diploma (professional examination) and paying in instalments is well beyond your financial means, you may meet the conditions of the so-called hardship clause. In this case, you can already receive the federal contribution to the tuition fees during the course and thus significantly reduce your financial requirements. You can obtain more information here.

the employer

It is not always possible or sensible for an employer to train its employees in internal seminars and have special courses developed for them. Public and private educational institutions such as Swiss Cyber Institute often offer exactly the right solution to eliminate existing deficits in individual employees or to provide them with targeted support. In such cases, both parties benefit from the training programme, which is why the costs do not have to be borne by the employee alone.

Of course, such a solution is only possible if you already have an employer and are willing to continue working in this sector. If, on the other hand, you are interested in a completely new career direction, your current employer will probably not fully recognise the sense of their investment in your professional future and you will have to rely on other forms of funding.                                           

Talk to your line manager, supervisor or HR manager about your plans and explain your career plans. Explain to him/her why further training is important for you and show him/her how he/she will benefit from this development. The better you argue and are prepared, the easier it will be for you to obtain financial support. After all, as an employee, you are important to the company and stand to benefit from financial support.

However, bear in mind that your employer is unlikely to give you your training without a guarantee of something in return. This usually means that you must commit to working for your employer for a fixed period of time after completing your training. The employer pays for your training, you stay on for at least two more years, for example, and both of you benefit from this agreement. You will probably be offered a financing agreement in one form or another.

Nevertheless, you should consider in advance whether you can imagine staying with the company for another one or two years. A financial improvement in the form of a pay rise during this period is rather unlikely, at least if your employer is paying for a large part or even all of your further training. A higher position, more responsibility or a different area of responsibility should nevertheless arise for you after your training programme so that all your efforts pay off and you can put what you have learned into practice as quickly as possible. Discuss all the details of the financing with your line manager or the person responsible and make sure you record them in writing in a contract.

The federal government, canton, and foundations

If your boss is unwilling to pay and private funding is also not possible, some people interested in training also have the option of receiving support from the federal government, canton or a foundation. For example, the state often covers the costs of a training programme for unemployed people and invalidity insurance recipients who are dependent on retraining or further training in order to remain or return to work. For all others, however, financial support is provided by the canton of residence, which offers it in the form of grants, among other things. Such scholarships do not have to be reimbursed and primarily support full-time training that builds on initial training already completed and concludes with a recognised qualification. This type of cantonal support primarily benefits the less well-off who are unable to continue their education without this assistance.

However, highly talented people and people in certain professions also have a real chance of receiving such a scholarship. Contact the scholarship office in your canton of residence and enquire about your prospects of receiving support. However, you should bear in mind that, as a rule, only people up to the age of 40 are eligible for scholarships, and in Appenzell only up to the age of 30. You can find out which age limit has been set by your canton of residence directly from the relevant office. They will also tell you what other financial support options are available in your canton apart from a scholarship, such as cantonal education vouchers, education loans or additional options for specific groups of people. For example, temporary workers who are subject to the collective labour agreement for staff leasing can receive grants from the further training fund Temptraining to cover the costs of further training and loss of earnings.

If the canton does not support your further education plans, one of the many Swiss funds and foundations may be prepared to finance them. Depending on the foundation, scholarship applicants must fulfil different requirements and criteria in order to receive funding for part of their further education, such as being a single parent, living in a mountain canton or being extremely talented artistically. However, as there are more than 2,700 foundations that are supervised by the federal government and several thousand that are supervised by the respective cantons, you should enquire about this alternative at the cantonal scholarship and career counselling offices or in the federal directory of foundations. You can find the directory here.

Loan

If all of the above sources of funding are out of the question for you, you still have the option of financing your further education with a loan. Loans are available in various forms and can be applied for at scholarship centres, for example. These offer interest-free loans for further education in various amounts, which must be repaid at a specified time after completion of the training programme.

In addition to these organisations, banks naturally also offer attractive loans for those interested in further education, with special conditions for this target group. Invest some time in finding the bank that offers you a low-interest loan. However, bear in mind that this interest can amount to a large sum if the repayment is spread over a longer period of time. It is therefore essential that you try to exhaust all other possibilities before you go to your bank to apply for a loan.

Another option is offered by the EducaSwiss Foundation for the Education Development, which supports you both in drawing up your further education budget and in finding a personal lender.

Do you have any questions?

Schedule a personal consultation call with our Education & Career Specialist, Fionn Sieber.