A major Australian spy agency will soon be run by a woman for the first time.

Rachel Noble has been selected as the next director-general of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), which intercepts electronic communications from foreign countries.

She will leave her post as head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC).

The ACSC is part of ASD.

Before joining, Ms Noble was a senior official at the Department of Home Affairs.

Ms Noble replaces Mike Burgess, who has become Australia's spy chief at the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

“Her appointment to this leadership role is a significant step forward for women in the national security sector and we congratulate her,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said in a statement.

It is the third major Federal Government security appointment in recent months, following the retirements of Australian Federal Police boss Andrew Colvin and former ASIO head Duncan Lewis.

Ms Noble has had stints at the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Immigration and Defence departments, and was also previously deputy chief of facility at Pine Gap, the confidential defence facility in the Northern Territory.

“Ms Noble's deep experience in intelligence strongly positions her to lead ASD in executing its important national security mission,” the Government's statement said.

“She has vital technical expertise having previously worked in ASD and has a strong understanding of the role the organisation plays in the national intelligence community.”

Ms Noble will take on her new job in February 2020.