Question & Answers: Career in Cryptology



This is in regards your column Friday Magazine – Expert Q & A in Education.

I am a Grade 10 student and would like to become a cryptologist. Also, I have a passion for football and have played at national level. I would also like to pursue a side career in football. Please advise.

Awaiting your reply.


Career in Cryptography

Not a common field but an extremely interesting one, Cryptology is the practice and study of techniques for secure communication. It concerns itself with the study and application of protocols related to information security, data integrity and data confidentiality. Modern cryptography would require knowledge of mathematics, computer science and electrical engineering.

Applications of this science include ATM cards, credit cards, mobile communication, smart cards, computer passwords, electronic commerce and payments on line. To prevent data theft cryptographers need to write codes which cannot be hacked. The emphasis is on study of information security. The field also includes study of algorithms, integrity checks, authenticating digital signature and preparing mathematical models

Cryptologists typically work in government agencies, the military, software companies, law enforcement agencies, technology and financial institutions that require protection of private information.

It is primarily a research-based subject and hence a PhD in cryptography is the best possible solution. Your undergraduate degree can be computer science, mathematics, programming, foreign languages. It is the post graduate level you would need to specialize. But more importantly it is essential to possess problem solving abilities, familiarity with mathematical and programming tools and even some expertise in hacking ! An internship would definitely help.

Universities where you can pursue this discipline include Carnegie Mellon University, George Mason University, John Hopkins University, Purdue University , Bristol, Royal Holloway, McGill, Waterloo etc.

As for the second question, if you have a natural talent and passion for football then you should definitely make the most of your abilities. As in any other sport in addition to passion you would need to stay focused and put in lots of hard work and dedication to make a career out of it. In college you should pursue courses that would help explore other careers associated with the game such as club management, sports consultant, college coach, marketing career with sport or life style company, sports physiotherapy/psychology, sports journalism etc.

As both these career choices are not very common and to a certain extent dependent on opportunities my advice to you is to continue to focus on your academics while not losing sight of your goal.

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