Overview of Cryptography Jobs

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A Cryptographer develops algorithms, ciphers and security systems that conceal secret, private or sensitive information. It is essentially the art of creating mathematical / information theoretic guarantees, or “airtight” encryptions, that determine the person or people group who can or can not interact with the given data. A Cryptanalyst is the person who analyzes and decrypts any type of hidden information such as ciphers, encrypted data, cipher texts, telecommunications and more. The encrypted data is part of what is known as a cryptographic security system.

In a sense, the cryptographer is the key holder as well as the gate keeper for sensitive information and determines who may or man not also hold that key/ enter the gate. This is how a cryptographer/cryptanalyst engages in the field of cybersecurity.

Cryptographer/Cryptanalyst Responsibilities

As the simultaneous key holder and gate keeper, the responsibilities are varied meaning you may be required to:

  • Decipher or Decode cryptic messages and coding systems for military, political, or law enforcement agencies
  • Provide technical support to government, businesses and industry to solve security-related issues
  • Protect sensitive information from interception, copying, modification and/or deletion
  • Evaluate, analyze and target vulnerability in cryptographic security systems, algorithms, and more.
  • Create powerful security systems to that prohibit vulnerabilities
  • Develop statistical and mathematical models to analyze data and determine the nature of any security issue- then solve it.
  • Ensure that all mathematical models are reliable and accurate
  • Research and test new cryptology theories and their function
  • Ensure that all financial data- such as online transactions- are encrypted and accessible only to authorized users
  • Protect message transmission data from illegal accesses or alteration

There are many facets to the job of Cryptographer. Some individuals may wish to enter into the field through the academic world. Others may use cryptography for software development, engineering or design. While other may choose to enter the field of mathematical cryptanalysis/cryptography.

Cryptographer Career Progression Example

As this position requires a number of years of work experience, securing a job as a cryptographer may feel like a Catch22. While it is valuable to obtain the right level degree, finding the years of experience in the field may seem daunting.

Based on your starting point (whether you’re already an established cyber security professional, a traditional IT professional, or a student) there are a variety of paths to entering cryptography. We’ve listed some different levels at which you can engage in cryptography below. These levels will depend on the typical number of years of experience associated with career stages (entry, middle, senior) as well as how specialized your education is. For an in-depth look at how job experience in cyber security and education levels compare and contrast, check out our guide on how to prepare for a career in cyber security.

  • Entry level: Financial Consultant, Software Engineer, Security Engineer, Security Consultant, Hardware Development Engineer
  • Mid-level: Data or Message Decoder, Social Engineer, Cloud Application Tester, Malware Analyst
  • Mid-Advanced Level: Encryption Expert, cyber security engineer, Senior Security Engineer, Data Delivery Security Analyst
  • Advanced Level: Cryptology professor, Principle Research Cryptology Scientist/ Mathematician, Cryptographer, Information Assurance Systems Engineer, Cryptologist, Cryptologic Linguist, Symbolist

Technical Skills

  • Strong mathematical knowledge (e.g., probability, number theory, abstract algebra, complexity theory, finite fields, number theory and others)
  • Knowledge of C, Java, Python, and other language systems
  • Understanding computer architecture
  • Knowledge of operating systems
  • Programing
  • General understanding of computer science
  • Information Theory
  • Builds Algorithms
  • Knowledge of hash functions
  • Understanding of Digital Signatures

Soft Skills

  • Open to new challenges
  • Critical thinking
  • Persistence
  • Problem solving
  • Good Communicator
  • Translates Technical Jargon into a “Laymen” terminology

Job Outlook and Salary Information

There are thousands of job openings for cryptographers online, and while there may not be as many as roles like financial consultant or security analyst, cryptographers are farther up the career chain. Cryptographer positions are projected to grow by 21% by 2024, which is a much faster rate than most fields. The median salary of cryptogapher is $105,810, though can range from $72,000 – $110,000+