DIY home network for learning or use online labs?

Hi,

I am considering a midlife career change and would like to get into either pentesting or bug hunting. With little IT experience my intention is to work through compTIA A+ Linux+ Network+ and Security+ (I won’t sit the exams just learn the content) and then move onto the OSCP.

The question I have is is it worth me buying second hand networking equipment and old PCs to build a home network to help me learn or would I be better off using VirtualBox and spending the money on virtual lab memberships?

My goal is to skip the help desk phase if I can and self study while I continue my current job. Not because I am disregarding the experience I could gain, more I have a family with a newborn and mortgage to pay and my current job pays quite well.

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