Encrypt information in order to keep it hidden from unsafe eyes.

What does a Cryptographer do?

When sensitive computerized information has to travel from one place to another, Cryptographers create codes and ciphers, and use a variety of other methods to scramble the data and protect its secrecy. If you were always the first kid to decode the secret messages found in cereal boxes, then the life of a Cryptographer might be for you.

Imagine for a second that you were an American Cryptographer during World War II. Your cutting-edge code-breaking methods would have played a very important role in the Allied victory! Cryptographers in the 1940s used their technologies to help decrypt the German “Enigma” Cipher, which provided invaluable military intelligence throughout the war. Those World War II Cryptographers used research and critical thinking to solve complex puzzles, thereby discovering information meant to be kept secret.

This is what Cryptographers still do today, except now, you have far more advanced technology to help in your puzzle solving—laptops and computer algorithms are an integral part of your job. Also, your work is used for more than fighting the Germans—you also tackle computer hackers, and take part in all sorts of security operations from counterterrorism intelligence to technological security issues.

Cryptography requires a strong interest in both mathematics and computer science, as well as familiarity with information theory, computer security, and engineering. Your research directly contributes to a functioning economy every day, as ATM card security, computer passwords, and electronic trade rely heavily on your work.

Generally speaking, you should thoroughly enjoy research and writing papers, and expect to someday be able to break algorithms and protocols in your sleep. You may even have a chance to write your own algorithms. With hard work, you’re likely to find yourself lecturing classes as a Professor, or working for large companies such as AT&T or IBM.