My Experience With TCM Security PNPT Accelerated Cohort

Explore my journey through the PNPT Accelerated Course, from cost considerations to hands-on labs, and how it boosted my cybersecurity aspirations.

My Experience With TCM Security PNPT Accelerated Cohort

PNPT Accelerated Course
Hello everyone! In this blog post, I will be discussing my experience with the PNPT accelerated course that I took in the month of July. It all started when I was doom scrolling on LinkedIn one day and came across a post about the first PNPT accelerated course offered by TCM. As an existing customer of TCM, having been on their subscription plan for about a year and even having had a coaching call with Heath six months ago, I couldn’t help but be excited. My dream has been to transition from the System Admin side of IT to the Cybersecurity side, specifically into Penetration testing. While I had plans to take the PNPT in the future, I initially had my sights set on other certifications, like Offensive Security’s OSCP, known as the “Gate Keeper” certification for penetration testing. However, when TCM Security introduced the new PJPT (Practical Junior Penetration Tester) certification around the same time, I decided to allocate the money I had saved for the OSCP towards the PJPT and the PNPT Accelerated course.

At first, the price of $2999.99 was quite a sticker shock for me. Three thousand dollars seemed like a lot of money to spend all at once. I realized that many people who aspire to follow this path may not be aware of the high cost associated with certifications and courses in the field. However, when I considered everything included in the course, it became more palatable.

What is included
The PNPT training bundle offered lifetime access to various TCM Security courses, such as Practical Ethical Hacking, Windows Privilege Escalation, Linux Privilege Escalation, Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT), External Pentest Playbook, and PNPT Live Training VOD. Additionally, the course provided an exam attempt with a free retake if needed, a lab environment, and a special Discord group for my cohort peers. Furthermore, every Friday, we had an 8-hour class hosted by the TCM Security team, primarily led by Heath, although other instructors also participated.

The Live Classes
To be completely honest, if you’ve already been studying the courses and putting in the work, the live classes might not offer much new information. The content covered during the live classes was quite similar to what you would find in the regular courses. However, the real value of these live sessions lay in the opportunity to interact with the instructors directly. This interaction allowed me to have topics explained in greater detail and have my questions answered, enhancing my understanding of the material. Heath, the main instructor, was particularly thoughtful in his approach, meeting each participant at their level of knowledge and offering assistance accordingly. Joe and Zach were always available to address career-related queries, while Alex provided excellent answers to Web/AppSec questions.

The Labs
The labs proved to be challenging for the first cohort that went through the course. There were some growing pains with the platform, and issues with the labs were present from day one. However, I must commend the TCM team for their responsiveness in fixing these issues promptly and adding more time to our allocated lab access to compensate for the inconvenience. Fortunately, since the labs were the same as those used in the PEH course, I had already set up my own lab environment, allowing me to follow along with the instructor seamlessly.

Now that we’ve discussed the price and what’s included, let’s delve into the overall experience. Signing up for the course was straightforward, and I quickly gained access to the course material. One aspect I appreciate about TCM Security’s approach is that you get lifetime access to all the courses. This means that whenever there’s an update, you automatically receive the latest material, ensuring that the courses remain relevant and up-to-date with current tactics and procedures.

The homework assigned during the off-time between live classes provided an excellent study schedule. The instructors highlighted the most important modules to focus on, as well as those that were not typically covered during the live sessions, to ensure we had the necessary information for the upcoming classes. The homework load never felt overwhelming, as it was well-organized and spread out over time. If you’re unable to afford the course but need a solid study plan for the PNPT, I highly recommend downloading the syllabus for the accelerated course and following it closely.

The courses themselves were outstanding! Having used TCM’s courses for quite some time, I was impressed by the lifetime access and regular updates, which ensured that I always had the most current material at my disposal. It’s worth noting that other platforms might charge users for “new courses” when, in reality, they are just updated versions of existing ones.

Live classes
The First Week
I was eagerly anticipating the first live class, having completed the zero week homework well in advance. The class focused heavily on OSINT, and the same practical exercises from the PEH were utilized. Although I had already done these exercises before, I found value in going through them again. In fact, I even had the opportunity to assist some classmates who were tackling these exercises for the first time. The interactive nature of the live class allowed me to learn beyond what was covered in the regular courses, thanks to the direct access to the instructors.

The Second Week
The excitement continued into the second week, as we dived into attacking machines. While the practical exercises were once again familiar from the PEH course, their significance was not lost on me. The lab environment experienced some growing pains, given that it was the first cohort to go through the course, but the TCM team promptly addressed any issues that arose. The availability of Evan, a TCM staff member, during the live class to troubleshoot was commendable. The lab issues were eventually resolved, and additional time was provided to compensate for any inconvenience.

The Third Week
The third week’s homework load was pleasantly light, offering a welcome break. The live class focused on Active Directory, using setups identical to those in the PEH course. The lab environment issues were mostly resolved, with only a few minor hiccups promptly addressed. In one instance, an attack (MITM6) didn’t work in the TCM lab environment due to IPv6 and VPN connection complications, but Heath provided a thorough explanation and demonstration of the attack, allowing us to understand it fully.

The Final Week
During the final week, the homework included hands-on labs and the capstone project. Although we had already covered the hands-on labs during the third live class, I found it valuable to go through them again independently. The final live class, which was a blitz led by Alex, felt a bit overwhelming at times. Some of the content had been recently added, and while I had already encountered most of it during my PJPT preparation, it proved beneficial to gain new insights and make notes for further review. The instructors were available to answer questions, and their input was truly invaluable.

Final Thoughts
In conclusion, the PNPT accelerated course exceeded my expectations. The opportunity to interact with the instructors was undoubtedly the most significant advantage for me. Although there were instances where I felt that I had already covered certain topics, the new perspectives and additional insights I gained were well worth it. Despite some issues with the lab environment, the TCM team was highly responsive in resolving them, and I believe the next cohort will benefit from these improvements. I wholeheartedly recommend this course to anyone beginning or midway through their PNPT studies. However, if you have already completed several TCM courses and are comfortable with the material, you might find the most value in the instructor interaction or if you had struggled with the course work on your own. Throughout the course, Joe emphasized that learning doesn’t end on the final day, encouraging us to continue interacting through the special Discord group and to reach out with any job-seeking questions.

Overall, this course has prepared me well for the PNPT exam and has given me the confidence to pursue the certification