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By Clare O’Gara
Tue | Jan 14, 2020 | 7:30 AM PST

Whether you're looking to jump start your cybersecurity career or interested in changing your position in the field, there are plenty of open jobs to choose from.

Could a cryptanalyst, or encryption expert, be your next move?

What does a cryptanalyst do?

The job title of "cryptographer," often called a cryptanalyst or encryption expert, sounds pretty straightforward at first. It probably involves encryption and protecting information via coding, right?

And that's a good start on the job description. But there's more nuance to the position that the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) lists for this role:

  • Protect important information from interception, copying, modification, and/or deletion
  • Evaluate, analyze, and target weaknesses in cryptographic security systems and algorithms
  • Design robust security systems to prevent vulnerabilities
  • Develop statistical and mathematical models to analyze data and solve security problems
  • Test computational models for reliability and accuracy
  • Investigate, research, and test new cryptology theories and applications
  • Probe for weaknesses in communication lines (e.g. wireless network, secure telephone, cellphones, email, etc.)
  • Ensure message transmission data (e.g. wireless network, secure telephone, cellphones, email, etc.) are not illegally accessed or altered in transit
  • Decode cryptic messages and coding systems for military, political, and/or law enforcement agencies

How much do cryptanalysts earn?

As with most positions, your salary as a cryptographer will depend on your experience.

The median salary for an encryption expert is north of $100,000, according to the U.S. government.

What are the education requirements for a cryptanalyst?

Like many cybersecurity positions, the degree requirements for an encryption expert come down to the company or organization you are working for.

Many companies in the industry are looking for employees with bachelor's and master's degrees in Mathematics or Computer Science, but experience in the field is always another important factor because of the demand for workers who can fill this role.

Which soft skills help with a cryptographer role?

Cybersecurity jobs are never just about computers and security.

There is almost always a human, interpersonal aspect to the role, too. And these soft skills are also important for cryptographers, according to CISA:

  • Intelligent, analytical, and creative
  • Capable of tackling complex mathematical problems
  • Trustworthy

For more information on the role of a cryptographer or cyrptanalyst, check out this CISA page.

Interested in other cybersecurity roles? See this article on the role of Cybersecurity Engineer.