Cryptography isn’t a simple career. Every organization has different sets of security issues and demands. Hence, each job is different. Therefore, you cannot fit a hundred percent into every job’s requirement. There will be a lot to learn on the go.
However, there are some basic job requirements that you can take care of. Focus on these, and you will end up landing one of your dream posts.
Since it is a technical post, there are a few hard skills that you will need to learn to become a successful cryptographer. These skills include:
- High-level understanding of advanced algebra
- Expert-level command over encryption theories and algorithms
- Fluency in all major programming languages such as Python, Jave, C, C#, C++
- Fundamental knowledge of complexity theory, number theory, and information theory
- High-level expertise in data structures, theories, and algorithms
- Understanding of symmetric-key cryptography algorithms
- Fundamental knowledge of symmetric encryption, hash functions, and message authentication
Along with these hard skills, to become a successful cryptographer, you will need some soft skills too. As this isn’t a one-man job, you will probably be working with a team. Here is what you need to be a perfect team member:
- Leadership qualities
- Team management
- Communication skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Critical and analytical thinking
We understand that some of the above-mentioned hard skills are quite difficult to attain in a short time. However, with the right educational background, this might not become a problem for you. A bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering, Computer Science, or a related Computer-Mathematics field will become the building block of your cryptography career.
Basically, all degrees whose coursework includes fundamental knowledge on Mathematics, Computer, and IT Systems, programming languages, and algorithms can begin your career in cryptography. Then, you can attain a master’s degree that focuses more on cryptography subjects.
You can also pursue a math-major degree alongside a computer-related course, hence performing a double-major. This will help you in getting a better understanding of abstract algebra, data structures, and algorithms.
During college, you should try to work on a lot of projects and internships to get hands-on experience. This will greatly help you in gaining the expertise and knowledge to land your first job as a cryptographer.
Keep in mind that many employers prefer hiring someone with a master’s or Ph.D. degree. Hence, do not stop at a bachelor’s degree. Someone with higher education will always get preference over you.
This highly depends on the company’s size and exact job requirements. Those companies which require highly personalized skillset, look for individuals with at least five years of experience in IT and computer security.
However, some companies might ask for one-to-two years of experience. This also depends on the job level. If it is an entry-level job, they might even consider people with zero-to-six months experience too. However, there is no compromise on the skill-set.
Entry-level jobs such as IS analysts, software programmers, CS analysts, etc. count as a valid experience. Familiarity with IT security software and hardware systems is a plus. A mid-level post such as network administrator, CS administrator, or IT manager can also count as extended experience.
In short, if you have a relevant degree and a little cybersecurity or IT experience, you have a future in cryptography.
If you are worried about not having the right set of skills or experience, you can always get a certification. Relevant certifications act as a catalyst for you.
Even if you are highly skilled, you should consider getting a few of these, just to up your game. It will help you in standing out and scoring that promotion you always had eyes on.
Certifications especially help when you want a specific position in a specific organization. Look at the job requirements and find out which skill you are falling short off. Then, try to look for relevant licenses and certifications to hit the bull’s eye.
Also, if you are already on a good post, keep getting certifications as they will always add to your resume. Remember that there is always a better opportunity out there. These certifications will help you in landing that opportunity.
For a successful career in cryptography, you can consider getting these certifications: