Cybersecurity offers careers to students of science, arts, culture—and it pays well

Sign for cybersecurity event, with student on stairs in background

For cybersecurity to keep pace with the fast spread of technology, the field needs students of every interest to think of it as a good potential career. This includes students from computer science, art, sociology, the economy, culture, ethics—you name it. Cybersecurity needs them.

A lunchtime get-together for UC Davis students this winter helped put that point across, and might even have inspired a new career path or two.

On Jan. 30, multinational tech company IBM and the UC Davis Information Security Office hosted a panel discussion in the Student Community Center in which IBM employees from various career backgrounds discussed cybersecurity and their jobs, then offered to talk individually with students to offer advice or answer questions.

About 30 students attended, and most stayed to ask the employees about such topics as their work, career paths, and what they studied in college. One IBM panelist was a history major, and another had studied art. Two or three grew up outside the United States. ISO employees from diverse backgrounds spoke with students too.

“We were happy with the level of engagement, and want to do more events like these for students,” said Dewight Kramer, assistant chief information security officer for UC Davis and the day’s main organizer. “Cybersecurity, and the people and things it protects, needs the talent and insights of a full spectrum of students.”

Median pay for near-beginners: $98,000

According to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, more than 300,000 cybersecurity jobs are open in the United States, and they pay well. In 2018, the median yearly salary for an information security analyst with less than five years in the field, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $98,350.

“Cybersecurity jobs are not just about coding and hacking—they are also about communicating, managing, and being creative,” says the agency’s site. “We need individuals with cybersecurity skills present at all levels of every organization, in all industries, from finance to healthcare to entertainment.”

Information on the website elaborates on the careers available, in areas ranging from encryption experts and multi-discipline language analysts, to cyber-legal advisers, project managers, and cyber-crime investigators.

IBM participated in the event as part of its role as platinum sponsor for the 2019 Information Security Symposium, which the ISO presents at UC Davis every other summer. Shannon Chee, founder of the campus Cyber Security Club, was moderator of the panel.