Offensive Security recently introduced subscription models for its services: the Learn One and Learn Unlimited plans. There is also a Learn Fundametals option, but I will not be touching on this particular model. This change has been met with mixed reactions from the security community, with some users applauding it while others criticize it. I will explore these models a bit here and (hopefully) help you determine which, if any, is right for you.
The Learn One plan generally provides access to a single course and certification program for $2499/year, while the Learn Unlimited plan provides access to all of Offensive Security’s training and certification programs for $5499/year.
Personally, right off the bat, I would not pay for the Learn Unlimited plan out of pocket. If an employer provides some sort of continuing education stipend and wants to fund a Learn Unlimited plan, then by all means. More on why below.
If you can afford it, I think the Learn One plan is worth it for what you get (especially if you can snag it at the $1999 price towards the end of the year).
The Learn One subscription includes:
- One online course of your choosing
- 365 days lab access (offers flexibility, but can be a double-edged sword)
- Two exam attempts ($250 value)
- All fundamental learning paths (good for beginners)
- PEN-103 + 1 KLCP exam attempt (not really useful, in my opinion, but it’s included)
- PEN-210 + 1 OSWP exam attempt (arguably useful, can only be accessed via subscription now)
- Proving Grounds Practice access for a year ($199 value)
Don’t get me wrong, $2499 (or even $1999) is still a hefty price tag, but the alternative now is paying $1599 for the standalone courses with 90 days of lab time and 1 exam attempt (no more 30 or 60 day options). One can argue that 90 days is more than enough time (and many have done it in less), but if you are out of lab time and fail your first attempt, you’re paying $250 for another attempt and lab extensions starting at $359 for 30 days. And if you want access to Proving Grounds Practice, you’re paying a separate $19/month or $199/year.
I think the Learn One plan offers a somewhat affordable option for those who only need access to a single course and certification program. The 365 days lab access allows users to access the course and certification program at their own pace, making it easier to fit their learning into their schedule. Of course, the 365 day access can also cause a user to drag things out instead of focusing their studies within a time constraint.
Where the Learn One plan falls short is in its access to only the single course of your choosing and in its repurchasing options. If users want to access additional courses and certification programs, they will need to repurchase the Learn One plan for each course or alternatively the 90 day standalone courses for $1599 each.
The Learn Unlimited subscription includes:
- Access to all online courses
- 365 days lab access
- Unlimited exam attempts
- All fundamental learning paths
- PEN-103 + KLCP exam attempts
- PEN-210 + OSWP exam attempts
- PG Practice
- 1 subscription is required per learner
With the Learn Unlimited plan, users have access to all of OffSec’s training and certification programs with unlimited exam attempts. While this initially sounds great, I would argue that to make this worthwhile, you would have to obtain at least 3 OffSec certifications within the year. I’m sure for some this is doable and with unlimited exam attempts, you might say it’s not an issue. However, OffSec has an exam retake policy that may or may not hinder your number of attempts.
As I mentioned above, the Learn Unlimited falls short simply due to the hefty $5499 price tag. If you can afford this or an employer offers you access, then totally go for it. Additionally, with unlimited access to all of OffSec’s training and certifications, users may feel overwhelmed and not know where to start.
These subscription models both come with the obvious drawback of an increased cost. While they do offer more flexibility and benefits, some users may not be able to afford it. This is especially true for students and those who are just starting out in the field of security.
In the end, the right plan for you will depend on your individual needs and budget.