Five skills you need to grow your quantum career
The role that quantum technology plays in our lives is rapidly growing. From computers and lasers to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners, the practical applications of quantum technologies represent unique professional and financial opportunities.
With the second quantum revolution well underway, a new quantum economy – supported by significant financial investments – has emerged. According to Statista, by 2040 the quantum technology marketplace revenue is projected to be worth more than $100 billion dollars.
With investments in quantum technology rising, the number of quantum careers is also trending upward. Quantum-literate professionals hold roles across a variety of sectors including commercial industries, government, and academia, and the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP) represents a £1 billion pound collaboration between these three stakeholders.
But with so many dynamic and exciting quantum careers available, you might be wondering what you can do to stand out. In this blog, we’ve outlined five important skills, so whether you’re looking to further your career as a quantum researcher, commercialise new technologies within your business, or develop your quantum awareness to support innovation in a government/policy role, you’ll have the valuable insights you need to succeed.
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1. Quantum awareness
While not every role requires you to be an expert in quantum physics, it’s important that you have a foundational understanding of the core principles in order to speak a ‘quantum language’. By developing your theoretical knowledge and practical skills, you’ll be able to engage with quantum technology, whether you’re trying to use this technology in your own business, or influence investment in the field.
The combination of quantum skills and more traditional domain competencies in electronics, programming, mechanics, or business will help you stand out to potential employers. To be clear, while these areas aren’t a traditional part of quantum physics, they play a vital role in quantum technology. For example, you’ll need to understand programming languages (such as Python), microcontroller chip architecture and hardware, and be able to design and analyse 3D components using CAD software in order to conduct a competent discussion on the various implementations of quantum technologies.
As the financial value of the quantum economy grows, being able to successfully commercialise new technologies and bring them to market has never been more important. You’ll need to have an awareness of the interplay between quantum technologies and commercial opportunities to spot emerging trends. You’ll also need to be tuned in to new developments in the field and be aware of the status of new technologies – whether they’re likely to go into market in the short-term future, or whether they require longer-term development.
Similarly, you’ll need to have some understanding of innovation management theories and frameworks. In order to successfully commercialise quantum technologies, you’ll need to know how organisations:
- source quantum technology ideas
- develop innovative strategies to launch them
- implement and finance these technologies
- generate financial returns.
On the surface, the field of quantum technology can seem complex and difficult to comprehend, but with the right communication skills you can make quantum technology accessible, understandable, and profitable. Excellent communication is a highly sought-after transferable skill that’s needed in almost every industry, and the quantum field is no exception.
If you’re a professional looking to undertake industrial research in a small start-up or a large tech organisation, you’ll need to be able to clearly articulate the framework your research project sits within. Your ability to accurately communicate the value and importance of your research could be the difference between failure and success.
If you’re a professional looking to harness the power of quantum technology in your organisation through commercialisation, you’ll need good communication skills in order to create a strategic business plan that illustrates the challenges and opportunities presented by new technologies. You’ll need to clearly communicate how quantum technologies can drive innovation in your organisation and help you become a part of the growing quantum economy.
Finally, if you work in role where you support quantum professionals, you’ll need to be able to expertly manage different stakeholder relationships. While you won’t necessarily be a quantum expert, you’ll use your understanding of quantum principles to advocate for policies that advance the use of quantum technology and be able to push for funding and resources. Whatever your role, you’ll need to feel confident using scientific jargon to collaborate with other quantum-literate professionals.
Like communication skills, the ability to create innovative solutions to complex problems is a valuable transferable skill in any industry.
When commercialising quantum technology, you’ll need to identify how new technologies can drive innovation in business to solve issues and work out how to implement these solutions. For quantum researchers, you’ll need to be able to identify potential issues and challenges ahead of time as part of the project planning stage and devise unique solutions to mitigate risks. For quantum-support roles, you’ll be managing the different demands and expectations of both internal and external stakeholders, so you’ll need to have good problem-solving skills to successfully carry out your role.
5. Critical thinking
To forge a successful quantum career, you’ll need to be curious, adaptable, and able to develop a long-term strategic vision of how you can harness the power of the quantum technology landscape. So, it’s vital that quantum-savvy professionals have excellent critical thinking skills.
You’ll need to be able to critically assess emerging quantum technologies to identify their viability – whether that’s to use them in your own research or in your organisation. Quantum professionals need to think about quantum technologies in a wider economic and social context to create a strategic plan for how best to implement them. It’s also important to be able to think critically about the quantum marketplace and assess the technological and business challenges that organisations face when bringing quantum technologies out of the lab and into the market. If you’re influencing government policy or investment in quantum technology, or you’re in a quantum-support role, you’ll need excellent critical thinking skills to successfully work with other quantum-literate professionals.
Discover the future of quantum technology
Our cutting-edge online Quantum Technology Applications and Management MSc (online) combines quantum sciences with practical business skills, drawing on expertise from world-leading academics at the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences as well as teachings from the University of Sussex Business School.
On this course, you’ll dive deeper into the science underpinning quantum physics, and learn about atom-light interactions, nanomaterials, secure communications, and quantum computing – to name just a few of the areas covered. You’ll also learn about the emerging quantum technology marketplace and develop the commercialisation skills needed to harness the economic power of new quantum technologies.
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