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December 10th, 2019

6 Degrees That Can Make You A Better Cybersecurity Professional


The cybersecurity industry is evolving at a rapid pace, which is leading to the creation of millions of new jobs.  According to the US Department of Labor report, cybersecurity is projected to grow by more than 13% from 2016 to 2026. This will result in the creation of an estimated 500,000 new jobs only in the United States.

Unfortunately, there is a shortage of talented individuals in cybersecurity who can fill those vacancies. According to (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce study 2019, the talent gap in the cybersecurity industry is widening and has reached to 4 million people

Even if you count the number of students enrolled in computer science and cybersecurity programs, it won’t be enough to overcome this talent shortage issue. The best way to solve this talent gap problem is to induct individuals from different educational backgrounds and train them to deal with emerging cybersecurity challenges.

According to Wesley Simpson, Chief Operating Officer of (ISC)2, Almost 58% of cybersecurity professionals will come from different educational backgrounds and degrees. We will have to cast a big net in order to fill in those millions of vacancies in cybersecurity. 

In this article, you will learn about six non-technical degrees that enable to you make a career in cybersecurity.


Carmen Marsh, founder of “Women in 100 Days Cybersecurity Career Accelerator” and CEO of Inteligencia admits that some of the best people in cybersecurity have a background in project management and business analysis. If you can do a job that requires analytical skills, creativity and emotional intelligence then, you are a good fit for the cybersecurity role.

For instance, if you have a degree in accounting, you can pursue a career in IT auditing. Business risk analysis shares a lot of characteristics with cybersecurity and IT risk management. Just like in business where you try to understand the impact on business, you will have to do the same with cybersecurity. There are a lot of parallels you can draw between business and cybersecurity.

2. Psychology

Kiersten E Todt, who is a researcher and scholar at the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Cyber Law, Policy and Security thinks that Psychology can be a great major for cybersecurity professionals. It enables you to get inside the human brain and study human behavior. Having a better understanding of how human beings think can help you anticipate the next move from cyber attackers. 

More importantly, it allows you to think like a hacker, which is very important if you want to protect your business from cyberattacks. Kent from Sequence Security agrees to this notion and says, “Most hackers have a mindset of frameworks of attack. If they’re to succeed, they need to be aware of how they can change to get to where they want to be.” Hackers play around with your psyche when they launch a social engineering attack but if you are well versed in psychology, you won’t come in their trap.

3. Mathematics

With close linkages with computer sciences, an individual with a mathematics degree is well suited for a cybersecurity career. At least, that’s what CEO of Shared Assessments Catherine A Allen thinks. She is not alone. Basile from A&M looks for “passion and drive to solve a puzzle” before hiring math majors for cybersecurity positions. He argues that you can teach technology, but you cannot teach passion and problem-solving.

Some cybersecurity experts also praise candidates with majors in mathematics due to their critical thinking. They argue that math majors look at things from a different perspective. This can come in handy when you are up against a problem that you have not solved before. Let’s say, your best-dedicated server came under a DDoS attack and you did not know how to protect against such an attack. That is where candidates with a major in mathematics can help you find a way.

4. Sociology

Like psychology, sociology lets you see how people behave when they are a part of a group. Having a degree in sociology can help you develop a deeper understanding of human behavior and their preferences. Not only that, but it also helps you grasp how cybersecurity work within an organization.

Look for candidates from other educational backgrounds to take up a new challenge that they have never faced. Look for the internal motivation and if you find the fire in their belly then, they can be the right fit for the role. It is easier to teach technology to a person that already has soft skills as compared to the other way around.

5. Philosophy

Are you a bit surprised to see philosophy on this list? If yes, then I don’t blame you. You might be thinking “How is philosophy related to cybersecurity?” Joseph Carson, who is a chief security scientist at Thycotic thinks that Cybersecurity is not a technical challenge but a human one. He further adds, “We need to be making more usable cybersecurity solutions because future cyberattacks will target and abuse human’s trust first.” 

It is highly recommended that if you are doing a major in programming, you should have a minor in philosophy and ethics because having a solid foundation in ethical thinking and human behavior is essential to succeed as a cybersecurity professional in the future.

6. Music

Seems weird? What has music had to do with cybersecurity? Is that what you are thinking? Before you head over to comments and starting bashing this article, let me explain my point. There are researches that establish a strong connection between musicians and software skills.

Tom Garrubba, CISO at Shared Assessment thinks musicians have unique characteristics that make them suitable for cybersecurity roles. Here is what he has to say, “Musicians – whether sheet-music readers or ‘ear’ players possess incredible traits that can be translated to cybersecurity. Sheet readers have the ability to follow a plan and stick to the music, meaning they’re good at following directions and practice at playing the piece perfectly. Ear players, on the other hand, tend to have the exceptional ability to improvise and dive right in. This is quite evident at blues or jazz open-stage nights. They feed off each other and work in concert to push each other.

Which non-technical degree do you want to acquire before making a career in cybersecurity? Let us know in the comments section below.

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