Cryptocurrency prices may be recovering from a lengthy period of stagnation, but it doesn’t appear as though blockchain startups are watching the market. The number of new jobs listed within the cryptocurrency and blockchain sector has increased dramatically over the last three months, proving that while crypto values may be slow to recover, the blockchain employment industry is powering ahead.
While the early days of $100 BTC are over, with most instant crypto-millionaires already minted, the crypto job market explosion is only beginning. Cryptocurrency is just one use case presented by distributed ledger technology — there are thousands of different blockchain-focused startups, projects, and platforms that are currently working on DLT solutions.
One canny maxim from the gold prospecting era can be applied to today’s modern day “digital gold” crypto industry — in a gold rush, sell shovels. In a modern sense, a shovel can be considered any skill that can be applied to the development of blockchain. Everybody from small ICOs to tech industry juggernauts are snatching up talent from around the world, creating armies of DLT specialists in order to meet the staggering demand for technically adept blockchain developers.
Enterprise Organizations Want Blockchain Experts
The rapidly evolving blockchain industry has captured the attention of enterprise-level organizations around the world, which is reflected in the positions that are currently available to individuals that possess blockchain development skills.
IBM, Visa, and Microsoft are just some of the tech and finance giants that are now actively recruiting within the blockchain space, along with established crypto industry players such as Dash and Coinbase.
Job data analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies CEO Matt Siegelman refers to blockchain experience as a “disruptive skill,” emphasizing the extreme growth rate the blockchain job industry has experienced over recent years:
“Five years ago, in 2012, we could find only a few vacancies demanding blockchain skills. By 2016 this number grew up to 1,838 messages, and 3,958 messages were made in the middle of 2017. It is 115% more than in 2016.”
The most common job posting in the blockchain industry is the generic position of “Blockchain Developer,” which can be interpreted to cover virtually any aspect of development within the blockchain sector. The burgeoning blockchain industry has definitely captured the attention of tech giants, who appear to be aware of the importance and impact of distributed ledger technology, but many are unsure of exactly what they’re looking for.
Microsoft’s Identity Services division, for example, is currently seeking a blockchain software engineer, but aren’t entirely sure what for. A job listing notes that the desired candidate will possess “ skills at investigating new products/technologies,” and should be excellent at “dealing with ambiguity.”
The position doesn’t have a specific goal — Microsoft aims to “explore new market and product opportunities that are emerging based on Blockchain technology,” and hopes to find a software engineer that can guide them through the complex and convoluted blockchain landscape.
The sheer number of large-scale organizations seeking blockchain experts is a strong indicator of the level of interest these companies are investing in blockchain technology.
Industry giants may not yet know exactly why they need blockchain experts, but that hasn’t stopped Ernst & Young, Intel, Mastercard, Siemens, Amazon, Ford, and American Express from headhunting the best blockchain experts the world has to offer.
What Are Blockchain Employers Looking For?
While some organizations appear to be simply testing the blockchain waters, others exhibit a reasonably clear idea of what they want to do with blockchain talent, and who they are looking for. Visa, for example, is currently seeking developers with strong Ethereum and Solidity experience, as well as experience with the Ripple, R3, and Bitcoin blockchains.
Visa’s headhunting within the blockchain sector is linked to the recently
announced Visa B2B connect program, which is investigating the applications of blockchain technology in facilitating corporate cross-border B2B payments in a similar manner to Ripple.
Interestingly, the nascent nature of blockchain technology means that there are, as of yet, no widely-accepted qualifications that large-scale organizations can lean on when vetting new talent.
While qualifications in software engineering, cryptography, or computer science are a must, there are no benchmarks in place that standardize the blockchain qualification process.
This laissez-faire employment ecosystem means that the blockchain jobs market is currently very much a meritocracy, opening doors to anybody with hands-on experience with distributed ledger technology.
Where Are the Blockchain Jobs?
The US is currently ground zero for the blockchain revolution, with more than 1,800 jobs listed in the industry on a daily basis. France, Germany, and the UK are other hotspots of blockchain innovation, followed by the rapidly growing Indian crypto economy.
Data published by Thinknum provides a detailed breakdown of blockchain job availability by country. One of the most interesting aspects of jobs within the blockchain industry, however, is that the decentralized nature of the crypto economy means that many blockchain jobs are remote positions.
How Much do Blockchain Jobs Pay?
Blockchain-based positions are some of the most lucrative employment opportunities in tech, with blockchain experts ,paid, on average, 20% more than non-blockchain tech experts.
A recent report from Business Insider shows that blockchain developers are currently in high demand in Europe, commanding salaries of up to $180,000 annually.
Thomas Bertani, the CEO of Swiss-based Eidoo, outlined the lucrative nature of blockchain-based positions within Switzerland in an interview with Business Insider:
“The reasons are: 1) highly skilled blockchain-experienced devs are very hard to find; and 2) Switzerland is well known to be one of the most expensive countries on earth”
Blockchain specialists on popular remote working platform Upwork are currently charging as much as $150 per hour for their services. In tech-dense regions of the US such as Silicon Valley the median annual salary for a blockchain developer is $158,000.
The Decentralized Future of Employment
With enterprise organizations now sniping talented blockchain developers and experts for remote work on a daily basis, it’s arguable that the most profitable method of capitalizing on the blockchain revolution is not through trading or investing in cryptocurrency, but learning how to build the networks upon which they operate.
Recent data from AngelList demonstrates that blockchain-related jobs postings have doubled in the first quarter of 2018, proving that while the initial crypto rush may be drawing to a close, the blockchain career industry is only now beginning to warm up.
Given that many high-paying crypto jobs are remote in nature, it’s entirely possible to envision a future working environment that involves coding the next big dApp while sipping a cocktail on a tropical beach.
Cover Photo by Caspar Rubin on Unsplash
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