Over recent years, there’s a topic that keeps cropping up in the cyber industry that most people seem to agree on: that transferable skills are vitally important in cyber security.
In a nutshell, transferable skills are any skills, abilities or experiences, such as communication, problem solving and critical thinking, that you can be developed in many different ways. These kinds of skills aren’t specific to one type of person or one industry, and so can be applied in different scenarios and job roles.
At CAPSLOCK, we’ve helped hundreds of people from all kinds of backgrounds and professions switch careers to cyber, so we’ve seen firsthand just how valuable transferable skills can be.
We’ve compiled a list of transferable skills that are in high demand in the cyber industry. These are the kinds of skills that employers tell us they’re looking for, but it’s by no means an exhaustive list.
If you’re considering a career in cyber, check out the following skills and see how many you have.
1. Problem Solving
This is a big one. No matter what cyber specialism you might work in, you’ll be solving problems day in and day out. There must be hundreds of examples of you solving problems in the past, whether that’s at work or home, serious problems or fun ones!
Most jobs will involve problem solving to some degree, especially when working in fast-paced environments like retail and hospitality. You might love a cryptic crossword or sudoku, or perhaps you’re the friend that people call when they need help.
If you can think on your feet and love finding solutions, you’re probably a brilliant problem solver.
2. Attention to Detail
In the world of cyber security, cyber professionals have to have great attention to detail. They might need to pay close attention to system vulnerabilities, analyse logs, identify potential threats, spot patterns in behaviour... the list goes on.
Maybe you’ve worked in sectors like construction or finance that require total precision and no room for error. A lot of creative pursuits require great attention to detail, such as design, baking, tailoring, gardening: making sure things are done meticulously to create a great result. Is this a skill you see in yourself?
Cyber security is constantly changing, so adaptability is essential. It crops up with things like incident response, changing regulations and standards, and new technologies, so you need to be able to adapt to new situations quickly.
If you’ve worked in a role where you’ve needed to wear many different hats, perhaps as a teacher or if you’ve been self-employed, you're probably a very adaptable person. Maybe you’ve travelled a lot and enjoy not knowing your next destination.
If you can handle change well, and even thrive off it, adaptability might be one of your greatest transferable skills.
4. Ethical Awareness
In cyber, it’s vital to understand the importance of ethical cyber practices. Things like data protection, applying regulations and standards, and governance, risk and compliance have ethical awareness at their core.
We’ve seen that people often already have great ethical awareness if they’ve worked in sectors like healthcare, education, policing, the military, and law. If you have experience of handling confidential information or complying with strict rules and regulations, you likely already have a good grasp of the importance of ethics.
5. Crisis Management
Crisis management skills are valuable in cyber security, particularly when responding to security incidents and mitigating potential damage quickly and effectively. Are you great in a crisis?
Maybe you’ve worked or volunteered in the emergency services and have the ability to stay cool in a crisis. Maybe you have experience of high-pressure environments and have honed the ability to make good decisions under pressure. If so, crisis management is one of your transferable skills.
6. Data Analysis
There's a lot of data analysis involved in cyber security, from analysing patterns in behaviour and evaluating information to monitoring systems for vulnerabilities and identifying potential threats.
People often forget that data analysis is a common part of daily life: budgeting your monthly spending, planning exercise and meal-prepping for specific goals, analysing your energy bills to work out where you can save money... all these things are a form of data analysis.
Roles in healthcare, marketing and IT (to name just a few) often involve collecting data, analysing it, and using it to make informed decisions. Many people are far better at data analysis than they realise.
Communication is a highly desirable transferable skill that crops up all the time in cyber. Many cyber roles, such as those involving consultancy or training and awareness, involve dealing with lots of different people at different levels.
Being able to communicate easily with clients, colleagues, or end-users is really important. Perhaps you’ve worked in a role such as teaching where clear communication was vital, or perhaps you’re simply a people person who loves a good conversation.
Either way, if you’re a great communicator, you have a very sought skill!
The ability to work well in a team will stand you in good stead for a role in cyber. Working with colleagues to implement security measures, responding to threats effectively, and possibly leading team-based projects might form part of your cyber career.
Most areas of life require teamwork in some form, whether that’s at work, home, or with friends. Helping to plan important events, working with others to navigate difficult situations, supporting people and doing what needs to be done for a given task... if any of these scenarios sound familiar, it sounds like you’re a great team player.
Cyber can be quite an intense industry, and you might encounter failures, breaches, attacks, tech issues and many other kinds of obstacles. Resilience is crucial to learn from mistakes, adapt security strategies, and be proactive about future improvements.
We’ve particularly noticed that parents, people with experience of caregiving, people who’ve worked in healthcare, people who’ve run their own businesses and members of the armed forces community often demonstrate great resilience, but it's a trait that can be found in people from all walks of life.
Bouncing back from tough situations isn’t easy, so if you’re the kind to stand up after getting knocked down, that’s a fantastic skill to have.
10. Critical Thinking
Critical thinking comes into play a lot in cyber. Solving complex problems, assessing risks, coming up with innovative plans to mitigate cyber threats and developing creative ways to spread the importance of cyber security in a business are all examples of critical thinking in the cyber industry.
Critical thinking is crucial in so many industries, including legal, engineering, science, journalism and finance. Thinking outside the box and tackling situations in unique ways comes naturally to some people. If you’re one of those people, you could easily apply your critical thinking skills to a career in cyber.
As we’ve seen over the years, it’s possible for anyone from any background to learn a variety of cyber skills and principles. It’s harder to teach someone to be a naturally great communicator, or to have excellent analytical skills, or be fantastic at crisis management. These are skills that cannot be easily acquired and are instead developed over many years of life experience. This is why they are so valuable in the cyber industry and beyond, and the best news is you probably already have quite a few of them!
What you do with them is up to you...
Why not visit our Learner Outcomes page to see how CAPSLOCK learners from all kinds of backgrounds have used their transferable skills and our bootcamps to launch new careers in cyber?