How to Become a

Cryptographer or Cryptologist

The complete career guide to be a Cryptographer or Cryptologist: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $112,560
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 20%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Fast Paced Career
    Career Attribute

Cryptographers help decipher, analyze and protect confidential and encrypted information.  They assist and help law enforcement and other government agencies in solving crimes, security concerns and other security threats.

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What is a Cryptographer or Cryptologist?

The following responsibilities are common for individuals in the Cryptographer field:

  • Writing algorithms to mask information on the computer like e-commerce, banking, security codes, passwords and email communications
  • Protecting data and information from hackers and cyber-terrorists
  • Setting up secure systems, procedures and protocols for software
  • Decoding data by using mathematical theories and equations and analyzing various computer-generated models
  • Crypto-analysis is also an extension of this job.  They study the secret coding systems to decipher the readable text

A Day In The Life

Cryptographers protect information and data from criminals by using mathematically based encryption methods.  They also can target any weaknesses in security systems or algorithms.

Typically they would write and develop new algorithms designed to camouflage information like bank accounts and credit card information.  They will also analyze and decipher encryption systems for various military agencies, governments and corporations.  They may also develop mathematical and statistical models to analyze data.  Testing these models for accuracy and reliability and coming up with new models to correct those problems is also part of this job.

Some of them specialize in cyber-security.  These cyber-analysts will identify weaknesses in software vulnerable to hackers and then come up with new software to protect that software.

Typical Work Schedule

Most cryptologists typically work full-time following the regular working schedule of 40 hours per week. They are often working in federal agencies or in the military where they are deciphering or developing codes and puzzles to protect classified or private information. Their working schedule is usually very regular one but on rare occasions they are stressed to solve an important mystery of a critical situation. This is more commonly needed during wars, preventing terrorist attacks or investigating major crimes.

Projected Job Growth

Cryptologists are increasingly employed by various security agencies to decipher messages and codes in foreign languages to identify potential domestic and international terror threats. The demand for cryptologists increased significantly during the cold-war and increased recently after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Due to the nature of the job, there is limited available information about the number of cryptologists or the demand for this job. The job requires high levels of mathematical and statistical knowledge as well as practical experience with computer programming to be able to carry out efficiently as well as strong quantitative and data analysis skills. Advanced mathematical techniques, modeling and the ability to interpret and present data should also provide you with a competitive edge in this field. It may also require knowledge of multiple languages including ancient languages.

Typical Employers

Cryptologist work mainly for the military in various departments to install, maintain and repair any cryptography systems as well ensuring the security of the coded messages and interrupting and deciphering messages from other countries or potential threats. They may also be employed by different government agencies including homeland security, the FBI and the CIA who need their skills for early detection of potential threats as terrorist attacks. They may also choose to work for private business enterprises who use cryptologists to protect proprietary information from corporate espionage. Additionally, some cryptologist can work for the gaming industry where they use their skills in developing puzzles or video games.

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How To Become a Cryptographer or Cryptologist

Cryptographers will usual begin with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics or computer sciences or a related field.   They must be capable of finding loopholes in systems where there doesn’t seem to be any.  Knowledge of complex information and technology systems and a high level of mathematical skill are all required for this job.  Impeccable problem solving abilities coupled with great communication skills and a proclivity to finding criminals.

Often times government agencies such as the National Security Agency will scout out and consult with cryptographers.  Many are consultants and work for various organizations and corporations.  Those who do go on to work for government agencies must be able to pass a background check, fingerprinting and polygraph test.

Cryptographer or Cryptologist Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Cryptographer or Cryptologist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Cryptographer or Cryptologist's can make an average annual salary of $112,560, or $54 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $81,590 or $39 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #42 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Highest Education Among Cryptographer or Cryptologists

  • 19.3%   Doctorate
  • 42.8%   Masters
  • 30.1%   Bachelors
  • 2.9%   Associates
  • 4.8%   College
  • 0.1%   High School
  • 0%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Cryptographer or Cryptologist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 700 jobs for a total of 4,200 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 20% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #51 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Cryptographer or Cryptologists

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Federal government, excluding postal service 1,000 100 0%
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 600 100 0%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state 400 100 0%

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