Career Profile: Cryptographer

Career Profile: Cryptographer

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Everyone has secrets to keep from other people. Many secrets are small, such as a surprise birthday party or a gift for a special occasion. Normally, simple actions like hiding a present in a closet are good enough to keep these secrets safe. Other secrets are much bigger and can involve governments, businesses, and law enforcement agencies. These kinds of secrets need the help of cryptographers to keep them safe.

The word “cryptographer” comes from the Greek words “secret” and “study” or “writing.” If you needed to send a secret message to one of your friends, a cryptographer could invent a special alphabet or a different language to make sure that no one except your friend could read it. However, cryptographers normally would not work with codes like that. Instead, they might work with a government agency to help keep people’s personal data secret. They often work with businesses to make sure that important information is safe. Computer coding is also a common place for cryptographers to work.

Becoming a cryptographer normally requires a university education. People in this field usually have at least a bachelor’s degree in mathematics or computer science, and often they have master’s degrees. The field involves mathematics, and cryptographers need to be as skillful as possible in that area. Basic tasks such as division and multiplication are important, but also many of the more complicated ones. An advanced degree in mathematics can help with that.

Gaining knowledge is the first step, but gaining experience should also be part of the process of becoming a cryptographer. Working with computers is very important, since many cryptographers use them to develop models for what they are doing. Many employers also require security checks before they will hire someone. Employers need to be sure that the cryptographers are honest people and that they will not reveal secrets to anyone else.
Have you heard of the word “encryption”? People often use “encryption” and “cryptography” to mean the same thing, and cryptographers work at keeping computers private. ATM cards, computer passwords, and buying or selling online (electronic commerce) require encryption to keep people’s information safe. When people type into websites, other people can read what they have written. Without encryption, hackers can gain steal people’s information and then their money.

Cryptographers can work in any area where keeping information safe is important. Not all companies or government agencies are able to use cryptographers, but information technology companies are good places to start. Most cryptographers work in offices, and they might work alone or with others. Depending on where they work and what their work is, cryptographers might earn about $47,000 per year. However, job prospects for cryptographers can be limited because the field is very specialized. Still, it can be a good job for people who enjoy mathematics and working with computers.

Careers.org. “Career Occupational Profile for: Cryptographer.” http://www.careers.org/occupations/4245/cryptographer.
Payscale.org. “Average Salary for Skill: IT (Cryptography).” http://www.payscale.com/research/CA/Skill=IT_(cryptography)/Salary.
Study.com. Cryptographer: Job Description, Duties and Salary Information http://study.com/articles/Cryptographer_Job_Description_Duties_and_Salary_Information.html.
Wikipedia.org. “Cryptography.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptography.

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