Arts students wanted! Why cyber security careers need you

Critical analysis, problem-solving and communication smarts are just some of the soft skills cyber security employers are crying out for. Image: Shutterstock

Excellent at English? Love delving into history? Have a passion for music? You might be surprised at the skills that are relevant to cyber security careers.

Communication, analytical thinking, and creativity are all essential skills emphasised in humanities subjects. So, it’s no surprise that areas that have traditionally been seen as ‘arts’ are in high demand in cyber security careers.

Australia will require an additional 17,000 cyber security professionals by 2026 – and people of diverse genders, backgrounds, cultures and regions are highly sought after.

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Professor Ryan Ko is chair and director of UQ Cyber Security at the University of Queensland and runs a program that aims to attract grads from all degree areas. “We take people from any background – you can have a degree in language, or music and still be accepted into cyber security,” he says.

“Many of the cyber security challenges the government and industry face are highly complex. You need to decide whether threats come from activism, geopolitical activity or criminal activity,” says Ryan. “If you understand cyber security you can work everywhere from preventing crime to policy.”

Diverse thinkers

Rachael Williams is the enterprise business manager for technology company HP, which supports five scholarships for women to study the Masters of Cyber Security at the University of Queensland.

Rachael Williams is a cyber security consultant for KPMG.

“One of the critical things you want students to be able to do is think critically and collaborate effectively,” she says.

“In the corporate world you’re not making decisions by yourself – you need to present a business case and work collectively to make a project happen, and to get people to follow you. Our passion is to get girls engaged as early as possible and understand what STEM learning is, how it connects to a career and that you don’t need to be great at maths!”

Head higher

Alisha Hummel is a cyber security consultant for KPMG and mentor for the Victoria Indigenous Engineering Winter School. She moved into a degree in cyber security after initially thinking of going into law.

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Alisha says skills such as communication, management and being adaptable and flexible are important to her job helping government and financial industries safeguard against cybercrime. “I love a challenge!” she says. “It does sound cliche to say, but not every day is the same.”

This article originally appears in Careers With STEM: Cyber Security 2020, on the bonus flip cover of our Careers with STEM: Tech 2020 issue.

Heather Catchpole

Author: Heather Catchpole

Heather co-founded Careers with STEM publisher Refraction Media. She loves storytelling, Asian food & dogs and has reported on science stories from live volcanoes and fossil digs

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