Blockchain is quickly entering the enterprise technology mainstream, which is naturally spurring demand for the knowledge and skillsets needed to turn it into a valuable business tool.
While most initial applications centered around crypto mining and trading, the underlying distributed ledger technology (DLT) of blockchain is also highly adept at enhancing a wide range of business functions, including software development, supply chain management, and numerous legal and administrative processes.
All of this represents an enormous opportunity for knowledge workers. But given that the technology is still so new, a number of questions remain: How to get a job in blockchain? What kind of jobs does it provide? What skills and knowledge are required to embark on a successful career? Where do I learn them? And perhaps most importantly, how much does it pay?
Are You a Blockchain Developer or User?
While there are numerous job opportunities in blockchain, most fall within two main career paths: becoming a developer or a user who implements blockchain technology across various aspects of responsibility.
In many cases, the lines between these two activities are blurred: some developers will also implement their blockchain apps, and some users will learn to create their own tools to solve unique challenges. In general, however, the actual job categories will sit on either the development side or the business side of most enterprise organizational structures.
The good news for anyone wondering how to start a career in blockchain or use it to augment their existing skillsets is that the pool of available candidates with a demonstrated capacity to work with the technology is still relatively small. For the moment, at least, this is driving salaries into the six-figure range, according to the Blockchain Council. In the United States, an average developer’s salary is about $100,000, depending on experience, location, and the company doing the hiring.
At the same time, new blockchain designs and applications are emerging by the day, and this is producing numerous areas of specialization, such as blockchain architecture, smart contracts development, security, and regulatory compliance. As the technology becomes more widely implemented, opportunities in large firms, SMBs, and even start-ups are likely to increase, as is the potential for skilled practitioners to start their own businesses to either provide others with blockchain services or out-compete established enterprises by developing more efficient means to accomplish key goals and objectives.
Another key advantage of working with blockchain is that it is such a new and exciting field that few companies have fully incorporated it into their organizational structures. This provides ample opportunity for workers to define the terms of their employment, including when, where, and how they work. A quick scan on FlexJobs, for example, shows many companies are willing to hire blockchain professionals on a remote basis. A good number of these firms have built their entire business models around a decentralized workforce, making it extremely unlikely that there will be a return to office any time soon.
How to Get a Job in Blockchain
Of course, the challenge is acquiring the key blockchain skills that are in demand. But again, what exactly are these? And how can they be learned? Corporate training firm Knowledge Hut breaks down the blockchain knowledge base into five essential skills:
To work with any advanced technology, you have to know how it is structured. Blockchain is derived from the Blockchain Protocol, which itself is built on the Internet Protocol (IP) that basically governs much of today’s web infrastructure. And like most communications architectures, blockchains consist of nodes and links, with any number of consensus tools and other instruments that govern how information is added and replicated across the chain.
Members are given wallets and keys when they join a chain, which provides the means to add new blocks to the chain and decrypt the data that is stored in existing blocks. There are various cryptographic solutions for this purpose, including symmetric and asymmetric encryption, along with techniques like hash functions and ciphering – all of which should become familiar to anyone interested in working with blockchain.
Each block in a chain is essentially a repository for data. In order to build and maintain the universal access needed by users, the entire chain must provide interoperability across data formats, file types, metadata, and a host of other elements.
At times, though, multiple structures may be necessary within a chain, depending on what type of data it holds, and this may require a means to automatically convert from one structure to another. And some use cases also benefit from interoperability between chains, which may also require additional coding around data sharing and transfer.
Smart contracts are becoming an increasingly popular application in blockchain circles. These self-executing functions enable enhanced verification, order processing, payments, and other means to streamline business processes and legal arrangements.
Understanding how smart contracts are created and how they affect memory, environmental variables, and numerous other functions taking place within the chain is a must for any budding blockchain professional.
Proof of Knowledge
When it comes to landing that new job in blockchain, you’ll need more than just your word that you know how it all works. You’ll need proof of your understanding. Fortunately, a wide range of professional certifications has emerged in recent years covering everything from general skills to highly targeted elements of blockchain development and management.
One of the most well-rounded is the Certified Enterprise Blockchain Professional (CEBP) credential offered by 101 Blockchains. The four-week course covers the fundamentals of blockchain technology and examines multiple enterprise platforms, as well as various applications and use cases. Also popular is the Certified Blockchain Expert (CBE) program by the Blockchain Council. It provides training on the fundamental technologies and use cases for blockchain as well, along with instruction on tokenization, mining, transactional techniques, and security. And for true beginners, on-line education firm Udemy offers Blockchain A-Z: Learn How to Build Your First Blockchain.
More specialized certifications include Blockchain Security by Internetwork Expert. This provides deep-dive instruction on the numerous threats facing blockchains and the evolving means to combat them. It also covers the ins and outs of threat analysis, risk mitigation, and data safeguarding. Numerous other organizations provide training and certification in the creation and management of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) cryptocurrency and the numerous ways the technology can be applied to finance, healthcare, manufacturing, education, and other industry verticals.
Perhaps the key advantage to embarking on a career in blockchain now is that the technology is still very new but has a promising future ahead of it. Anyone on the ground floor today has the opportunity to create and innovate in ways that cannot be done with established business tools, allowing them to become critically important to the core business model of any organization.
Blockchain is also expected to work hand-in-hand with artificial intelligence to foster entirely new business models in the Internet of Things (IoT), Web3, and the metaverse, putting all those with fluency in the technology on the cutting edge of the digital economy for the next decade or more.
To be sure, this will require talent and drive, but with the right skills in hand, there is no limit on what an effective blockchain strategy can accomplish – and this goes not just for companies looking to improve their performance but for individuals seeking their own fortunes in an increasingly digitized and automated economy.