Analyzing encrypted electronic communications. Jamming enemy radar signals. Deciphering information in foreign languages. Maintaining the state-of-the-art equipment and networks used to generate top secret intel. This is the highly specialized work of those in the Navy Cryptology community.
When it comes to sensitive military communications, the continuous battle is to keep one’s information concealed and protected while simultaneously exposing and deciphering that of the enemy. The general role of a Cryptologic Technician (CT) in the Navy is to help maximize operational integrity and situational awareness by collecting, analyzing and reporting on communication signals using computers, specialized computer-assisted communications equipment and video display terminals. It’s a highly secretive job that is carried out by different types of CTs with advanced training in specific areas of cryptology.
Serving as Enlisted Sailors (high school diploma or equivalent required), Navy Cryptologic Technicians are part of the Information Dominance Corps (IDC) – a group of highly specialized information experts fully integrated across surface, subsurface, air, space and cyberspace domains. With shared functions, capabilities and resources, IDC members leverage their skills to optimize decision making and to maximize the use of sensors, weapons, network communications and control systems for purposes of national security and warfighting.
Within Navy Cryptology, there are distinct focus areas that have their own training paths and job descriptions. Depending on your interests, you could pursue opportunities centered around any of the following specializations: Interpretive, Technical, Networks, Maintenance or Collection. Each CT role works under the oversight of Information Warfare Officers (four-year degree required) or Cyber Warfare Engineers (four-year degree required) – and potentially both.
Cryptologic Technician Interpretive (CTI) – CTIs serve as experts in linguistics (including Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Persian-Farsi, Russian, and Spanish) and deciphering information in other languages. Primarily, their responsibility is to collect, analyze and exploit foreign language communications of interest to identify, locate and monitor worldwide threats; transcribe, translate, and interpret foreign language materials and prepare time-sensitive tactical and strategic reports; and provide cultural and regional guidance in support of Navy, Joint Force, national and multi-national needs.
Cryptologic Technician Technical (CTT) – CTTs serve as experts in airborne, shipborne and land-based radar signals. Primarily, their responsibility is to operate electronic intelligence-receiving and direction-finding systems, digital recording devices, analysis terminals and associated computer equipment; operate systems that produce high-power jamming signals used to deceive electronic sensors and defeat radar-guided weapons systems; and provide technical and tactical guidance in support of surface, subsurface, air and special warfare operations.
Cryptologic Technician Networks (CTN) – CTNs serve as experts in communication network defense and forensics. Primarily, their responsibility is to monitor, identify, collect and analyze information; provide computer network risk mitigation and network vulnerability assessments and incident response/reconstruction; provide network target access tool development; conduct computer network operations worldwide in support of Navy and Department of Defense missions.
Cryptologic Technician Maintenance (CTM) – CTMs serve as experts in the preventative and corrective maintenance of sophisticated cryptologic equipment, networks and systems. Primarily, their responsibility is to install, test, troubleshoot, repair or replace cryptologic networks, physical security systems, electronic equipment, antennas, personal computers, auxiliary equipment, digital and optical interfaces and data systems; and configure, monitor and evaluate Information Operations (IO), Information Warfare (IW) systems and Information Assurance (IA) operations.
Cryptologic Technician Collection (CTR) – CTRs serve as experts in intercepting signals. Primarily, their responsibility is to collect, analyze and report on communication signals using computers, specialized computer-assisted communications equipment, video display terminals and electronic/magnetic tape recorders; exploit signals of interest to identify, locate and report worldwide threats; and provide tactical and strategic signals intelligence, technical guidance, and information warfare support to surface, subsurface, air and special warfare units. CTRs could also be assigned duties as fusion analysts – a role that involves taking intelligence data from multiple sources, effectively “piecing together the puzzle,” and generating a coherent intelligence product report to be used by decision makers.
Cryptologic Technicians perform a variety of duties worldwide, at numerous overseas and stateside shore commands, aboard surface ships, aircraft and submarines, and with Naval Special Warfare – generally dividing time between assignments ashore and afloat. Duties could be performed in an office setting, lab-type setting, specialized maintenance shop, secure space or watch environment. Responsibilities may involve working closely with others or operating independently with little supervision.
As a CT, you may work independently or as part of small, coordinated teams – ultimately under the supervision of Information Warfare Officers (four-year degree required) or Cyber Warfare Engineering Officers (four-year degree required).
The specific working environment will vary depending upon specialization area within the field of cryptology. Contact a recruiter for details.
Training & Advancement
Upon completion of initial 7–9 week Recruit Training (known as Boot Camp), those pursuing a Cryptologic Technician role report to either Pensacola, Fla., or Monterey, Calif., to receive formal Navy schooling in their specialty area within the field of cryptology. This consists of technical “A” School and possibly advanced “C” School or “F” School.
CTI training – Class “A" School is broken into two phases. Phase One, depending on the language, is anywhere from 27 to 64 weeks in duration. Schooling takes place at the Defense Language Institute, Monterey, Calif. Phase Two, depending on the language, is 12 weeks long. Class “F” School is conducted at the Regional Center for Excellence.
CTT training – Class “A” School is approximately 17 weeks long. After “A” school, some CTTs will attend a Class “C” School that is approximately 26 weeks in duration. The schools are located in Pensacola, Fla.
CTN training – Class “A” School is 26 weeks long and located in Pensacola, Fla.
CTM training – Class “A” School is approximately 10 weeks in duration and located in Pensacola, Fla.
CTR training – Class “A” School is approximately 22 weeks long. The school is located in Pensacola, Fla.
In the course of service, specialized training received could lead to credentialing, certification, licensure and/or apprenticeship opportunities from a number of national boards and organizations. Promotion opportunities are regularly available but are competitive and based on performance.
To learn more about the specific training path for any of the focus areas within the field of cryptology, contact a recruiter for details.
Beyond offering access to professional credentials and certifications, Navy technical and operational training in the field of intelligence can translate to credit hours toward a bachelor's or associate degree through the American Council on Education. You may also continue your education through opportunities like the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Navy (SOCNAV) Degree Program, Navy College Program and Tuition Assistance, and the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Specific opportunities vary depending upon specialization area within the field of cryptology. Contact a recruiter for details.
Cryptologic Technicians are rewarded with excellent benefits – including competitive pay that’s dependent upon rank or rate and years in service. Like most positions, your increase in rate and rank is earned. Promotions depend upon your performance and time in service.
A high-school diploma or equivalent is required to become an Enlisted Sailor in the cryptology field in the Navy. Those seeking a Cryptologic Technician position must be U.S. citizens who can meet eligibility requirements for a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information security clearance. They should have an interest in advanced electronics and technology; exceptionally good character; good speaking, writing and record-keeping skills; a good working aptitude of math; and the capability to do highly detail-oriented, highly classified work.
Specific qualifications vary depending upon specialization area within the field of cryptology. Contact a recruiter for details.
After the Navy
The world-class training and expertise you gain as a Cryptologic Technician, coupled with your security clearance, may prepare you for a wide range of federal jobs. Depending on your specialization area, this could include opportunities within the U.S. Intelligence Community, and potential employment with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or National Security Agency (NSA).
Depending upon your specific background, other excellent career opportunities in the civilian sector could include work as a Computer Systems Analyst, Computer Programmer, Computer and Information Systems Manager, Database Administrator, Network and Computer Systems Administrator, Intelligence Analyst, Operations Manager, Linguist or Translator.
Consider Your Service Options.
There are different ways that you can commit to serve in America’s Navy. Besides full-time opportunities in Active Duty, part-time Reserve positions are also available in this career area.