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Cryptographic Technician Job Description, Career as a Cryptographic Technician, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training:— Advanced degree in cryptography, mathematics, or computer science.

Salary: Median— $90,000 annually

Employment Outlook:— Good

Cryptography is the study and practice of encryption and decryption. Encryption refers to the conversion of ordinary information, or plaintext, into unintelligible jargon, or ciphertext. Decryption is the reverse process whereby ciphertext is converted to plaintext. Cryptography is closely related to computer science and mathematics, as well as information theory, engineering, and computer security. It plays a vital role in the area of security, particularly in the case of computer passwords, ATM cards, and electronic commerce.

Cryptographic technicians are responsible for operating cryptographic equipment that is used to code, decode, and transmit secret information. Such equipment is used in law enforcement agencies, armed forces, and business organizations. Cryptographic technicians select codes in accordance with instructions and then feed the code into the encoding machine. This automatic machine station has a keyboard through which the plaintext is entered. Once the plaintext has been entered, the machine encrypts the message and transmits it. Cryptographic technicians also decode ciphertexts in a similar way. They may also be required to operate teleprinters or teletypes in order to transmit the coded information.

Education and Training Requirements

In order to become a cryptographic technician, one needs to have a PhD in cryptography. However, this is not mandatory. Candidates should necessarily have studied mathematics and computer science at the undergraduate level. Some employers also recruit applicants with an advanced degree in mathematics, engineering, or computer science.

Candidates wishing to pursue a career in cryptography need to have a thorough knowledge in computer security. It is a good idea to read up on firewalls, Windows security, and Internet security. One should also opt for training courses in computer science. These courses focus on the aspects of computational complexity, algorithm design, and theory of computation.

Getting the Job

Employment opportunities in the field of cryptographic technology are advertised in job sites on the Internet. One can also sign in to online cryptographic societies and get in touch with other professionals. These associations often offer information regarding suitable job openings.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Experience is very crucial when it comes to career advancement in this profession. After gaining substantial expertise, one can seek full-time positions with government agencies and large corporations. Technology companies like Microsoft, Google, and AOL, as well as online payment organizations and credit card companies recruit cryptographic technicians. Those who have a doctorate degree can become professors or even begin working as independent consultants.

Cryptography is a very specialized field. As a result, the demand for qualified and experienced professionals is huge. With increasing importance being laid on security systems, almost all organizations require employees who are skilled in the job of protecting information. On the whole, employment opportunities in this industry are expected to be good over the next few years. Prospects are likely to be favorable for candidates with experience in information technology and computer science.

Working Conditions

The job of cryptographic technicians can be highly stressful at times. When there is a great urgency to break or create codes, they may be required to work overtime and under pressure. Cryptographic technicians also need to spend a lot of time with data, and in front of computers and other equipment. This may cause back aches and eye strain. Nevertheless, the career can be extremely thrilling and satisfying for those who like working with numbers and puzzles.

Where to Go for More Information

International Association for Cryptologic Research
General Secretariat
Santa Rosa Administrative Center
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-6120

American Cryptogram Association
56 Sanders Ranch Road
Moraga, CA 94556-2806

Handbook of Applied Cryptography

Salary, Earnings and Benefits

According to data published in 2009, the median annual salary in the field of cryptographic technology is $90,000. However, salaries are largely dependent on the individual’s experience, place and industry of employment, and geographic setting. Entry level salaries are usually around $60,000 per year, while experienced cryptographic technicians can earn up to $125,000 annually.

Cryptographic technicians employed in the government or in large technology or financial firms enjoy a host of benefits. These include paid vacations, health care insurance, performance bonus, and pensions.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesComputers, IT & Telecommunications