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As people who develop advanced algorithms and complex security systems, cryptographers protect electronic information across public and private sectors alike.

To become a cryptographer, you need a bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology, or a related discipline. Coursework and experience with cybersecurity principles, practices, and technologies prove essential when starting a career as a cryptographer.

With so much personal and professional electronic data in the contemporary world, cryptographers serve essential functions keeping that information safe.

In May 2022, the White House made public a national security memorandum outlining how the government plans to mitigate risks to vulnerable U.S. cryptographic systems. This memorandum supports the need for well-trained cryptography professionals.

What Does a Cryptographer Do?

Cryptographers write encryption code to secure data. While many cybersecurity professionals work to keep computer networks, systems, and devices safe, cryptographers focus on information that travels from sender to recipient.

Cryptographers identify vulnerabilities in existing security systems, enhancing data safety while implementing various cryptographic techniques. They use keys, digital signatures, tokens, and other tools for authentication purposes, time stamping, and related activities.

Overall, cryptographers' efforts protect data from hackers and cybercriminals who could intercept, decrypt, copy, alter, or delete it for nefarious purposes. From daily bank transfers to international military data, cryptographers keep information of various levels of importance safe.

Cryptographers work for the government, insurance companies, and financial institutions. Depending on their specific duties, they may coordinate and collaborate with computer programmers, information technologists, and other computer science professionals.

How Much Can You Earn as a Cryptographer?

Earnings for cryptographers vary by location, experience, and industry. According to Payscale, the average base salary for a cryptographer in May 2022 was $185,000.

Entry-level cryptographers may earn salaries below average, but the position allows for upward mobility and income growth. Cryptographers gain knowledge and skills with professional experience. They also have opportunities to earn industry certifications and continue onto graduate degrees in the field.

A position in cryptography can be a path for people with general information technology backgrounds. A specialization in its own right, cryptography's role on the cybersecurity landscape makes it a valuable and in-demand field.


$185,000

Average Annual Salary of Cryptographers, May 2022

Source: Payscale

Cryptographer Salary by Experience

Experience means more knowledge, advanced skills, and even additional credentials. For cryptographers, learning new tools and techniques can expand your job outlook and help you move into senior and managerial roles.

Experience can help you move into a different industry or simply venture out on your own as a consultant.

While Payscale lacks specific numbers when it comes to salary potential by experience for cryptographers, trends for comparable roles indicate increase over time. Cybersecurity engineers, for example, enter the role at a salary just under $78,000. After 10 years of experience, they earn over $120,000 each year, per Payscale.

Cybersecurity analysts, as indicated in the table below, earn average annual salaries of $63,000 early in their careers. Late in their careers, those salaries exceed $100,000 annually.

Cryptographer Salary by Education

Most cryptographer careers require a bachelor's degree, but an associate degree in cybersecurity or a related field can lead to entry-level positions that serve as a pathway to a career in cryptography. An associate degree in cybersecurity can lead to a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity, cryptography, or a related field.

As indicated by the table below, additional education can lead to increased salaries. Comparable to the cybersecurity data listed, a master's degree in cryptography means more opportunities for higher-paying jobs. Similarly, a doctorate increases earning potential even more.

Alongside degrees, you can advance your education through bootcamps, certificates, and industry certifications. Often shorter and more concentrated, these educational opportunities expand your knowledge and skills in cryptography.

While additional education can increase salaries, it has drawbacks. Expense, time, and overall outcomes influence the overall return on investment for any degree or certification.

Discover Which Education Path Is Right for You

Cryptographer Salary by Location

Location plays a large factor in salary. In parts of the United States with abundant jobs in the technology industry, there are more cryptography positions. Densely populated states like California and New York provide more opportunities for employment in a technology-related field.

Urban areas often have the highest number of cryptography jobs, but the general metropolitan areas around those cities also serve as home to potential employers. Maryland, with its proximity to Washington, D.C., pays among the highest salaries to information security analysts, a related cybersecurity position for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides more detailed salary data.

While cities and metropolitan areas may have employment options, these locations do not exist exclusively on the coasts. Des Moines, Iowa, and Idaho Falls, Idaho, rank among the top-paying metropolitan areas in the U.S. for information security analysts.

Salaries vary significantly by location. A city like San Diego, California, may pay 9% above the national average when it comes to a cybersecurity engineer's salary, for example, but the cost of living there exceeds the national average by 47%.

These tables offer insight into the types of salaries cryptology-related positions earn around the United States. There is limited data on cryptographers, but information about comparable roles paints a good picture of the salary landscape.

Top-Paying Cities for Cybersecurity Engineers, 2021/2022
City and State Average Annual Salary Percent Above the National Average

San Diego, California

$107,478

9%

Houston, Texas

$107,000

9%

Austin, Texas

$104,936

7%

Washington, District of Columbia

$104,695

6%

Denver, Colorado

$98,991

1%

Source: Payscale

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Information Security Analysts, May 2021
Metropolitan Area Number of Infosec Analysts Employed Average Annual Salary

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

N/A

$150,820

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

N/A

$149,250

Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA

890

$135,080

New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

10,250

$134,390

Idaho Falls, ID

230

$134,100

>Source: BLS

Top-Paying States for Information Security Analysts, May 2021
State Number of Infosec Analysts Employed Average Annual Salary

California

N/A

$135,200

New York

7,500

$133,210

Maryland

7,330

$126,110

Iowa

1,280

$125,650

District of Columbia

2,130

$124,980

Source: BLS

Cryptographers' Job Outlook and Career Prospects

The BLS projects 33% growth for information security analysts by 2030. By adding an estimated 47,100 positions, employment opportunities for information security analysts hold a lot of promise for individuals with cryptology training and experience.

From entry-level jobs to advanced roles in information security, career prospects remain high for people with cryptology backgrounds. Especially in certain areas: California serves as home to nearly two million technology workers, while Washington, D.C. houses government agencies in need of information security professionals in abundance.


Change in Projected Employment for Information Security Analysts:

+33% from 2020-2030

Source: BLS

Best Locations for Cryptographers

The best locations for cryptography professionals are those with the highest employment opportunities.This includes positions like information security analyst. Locations across the U.S., especially on the coasts, employ information security professionals. These areas also offer some of the highest average annual salaries.

The tables below provide insight for the future of information security analysis positions and other cybersecurity-related roles.

Top States for Cryptographers

The top-employing states for cybersecurity professionals include those with the highest populations in the country. Texas and Florida rank second and third, respectively, in highest-populated states, while New York sits in the fourth spot. Population influences the number of jobs available in all fields, including those for cryptographers and related professions.

The top-employed states for information security analysts also have some of the greatest projected percentage increases for a variety of cybersecurity roles. Virginia and Florida are projected to see gains over 40% while Maryland falls just under that at 39%.

With the exception of California, the top-employing states also make up four of the five states expected to see the greatest increases in available positions.

With limited data available for the specific role of cryptographer, we instead provide employment data for information security analysts below.

Top-Employing States for Information Security Analysts, May 2021
Top-Employing States Number of Infosec Analysts Employed Average Annual Salary

Virginia

16,930

$121,940

Texas

13,530

$101,800

Florida

9,360

$102,850

New York

7,500

$133,210

Maryland

7,330

$126,110

Source: BLS

States With the Greatest Projected Increase in Employment for Information Security Analysts, 2018-28
State Percent Projected Change, 2018-28 Average Annual Openings

Greatest Projected Percentage Increase

Virginia

45.4%

1,930

Nevada

44.2%

70

Florida

44%

750

New Mexico

42.9%

110

Maryland

39.4%

510

Most Projected Average Annual Openings

Virginia

45.4%

1,930

Texas

38.2%

1,040

New York

34.3%

830

Florida

44%

750

California

32.7%

630

Source: Projections Central

Top Metropolitan Areas for Cryptographers

Some of the top metropolitan areas for cryptography professionals like information security analysts coincide with the top states and highest-paying locations for those roles. Technology positions in the Washington, D.C., and New York City metro areas account for a lot of those states' and regions' overall employment numbers.

The cost of living in Washington D.C., exceeds the national average by 39%, something to take into consideration when considering a position there. New York City, however, has a cost of living 155% above the national average.

While many technology workers live in cities, especially along the coasts, other locations nationwide continue to see growth. In March 2022, the Brookings Institution released data about technology sector growth in cities like Atlanta, Georgia; Orlando, Florida; and St. Louis, Missouri.

The table below reflects the top metropolitan areas for information security analysts. As the closest position to cryptographers listed on the BLS, data about information security analysts offers a good look at opportunities in the field.

Top-Employing Metropolitan Areas for Information Security Analysts, May 2021
Metropolitan Area Number of Infosec Analysts Employed Average Annual Salary

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

15,690

$129,110

New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

10,250

$134,390

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

5,400

$108,550

Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD

4,050

$130,580

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA

4.020

$110,450

Source: BLS

Best Industries for Cryptographers

The top industries for information security analysts reflect the diversity of professional opportunities within the field. Information services, manufacturing, and finance provide the highest average annual salaries, while computer systems design and information-heavy industries employ the highest number of cryptography professionals.

The tables below reflect the importance of cryptography professionals, namely, information security analysts, in securing secure data for business and financial activities. As industries that handle confidential personal and professional information alike daily, information security analysts perform vital services to keep populations, companies, and government entities safe.

Top-Paying Industries for Information Security Analysts, May 2021

Top-Paying Industries Number of Infosec Analysts Employed Average Annual Salary

Remediation and other waste management services

40

$173,250

Other information services

10,130

$149,540

Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing

400

$144,040

Securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities

3,140

$142,070

Motion picture and video industries

60

$141,070

Source: BLS

Employment by Industry for Information Security Analysts, May 2021
Industries With Highest Employment Number of Infosec Analysts Employed Average Annual Salary

Computer systems design and related services

42,590

$110,450

Management of companies and enterprises

14,790

$108,000

Credit intermediation and related activities

10,170

$112,660

Other information services

10,130

$149,540

Management, scientific, and technical consulting services

8,660

$110,780

Source: BLS

Upward Mobility for Cryptographers

There is cryptography mobility across industries and U.S. locations. Continuing your education, gaining valuable experience, and networking with colleagues can help you expand knowledge and build connections as you look to move into senior roles.

Senior researcher and engineering roles serve as options to grow your cryptography career. Cryptography researchers explore solutions to issues in cryptography, creating and optimizing algorithms and cyphers to match ever-expanding security demands.

Cryptography engineers design and build the tools and protocols used to keep data safe. Glassdoor reported in 2022 that senior cryptography engineers made over $113,000, earnings from base and additional pay combined.

You may need a master's degree or a Ph.D. to move into one of a senior position, but industry certifications like the encryption program offered by the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants could provide an alternative to a degree.

Learn More About Cryptographers

1

What Is a Cryptographer?

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Day in the Life of a Cryptographer

Insight into a day in the life of a cryptographer can help you determine if the field is right for you. Take a look at the ins and outs of this exciting and rewarding career.
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How to Become a Cryptographer

Do you need a degree? What about certification? Will a bootcamp provide the background you need? Learn how to get started in cryptography.
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Certifications for Cryptographers

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Common Questions About Cryptographer Careers


What is the average salary for a cryptographer?

According to Payscale, the average base salary for a cryptographer was $185,000 in May 2022. Salaries vary by education and experience levels.

Where is the best state to work as a cryptographer?

California is the top-paying state for cryptographers. Virginia has the highest number of cryptography jobs in the U.S. Virginia is also projected to see the biggest rise in cryptography positions in the country by 2030.

What is the best industry to work in as a cryptographer?

Due to the high number of jobs available, the best industry to work in as a cryptographer is computer systems design and related services. The top-paying industry is remediation and waste management services, although positions are limited.

Is it worth it to pursue a career in cryptography?

Pursuing a career in cryptography is worth it if you enjoy working with electronic data and finding ways to keep it safe. Cryptographers are projected to see an increase in available positions in the coming years and have high earning potential.


Featured Image: ljubaphoto / E+ / Getty Images

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