2018 was a mixed year for blockchain technologies. The star of the show, cryptocurrency, saw a huge decline in value, with crypto’s total market capitalization shedding more than three-quarters of its value over the course of the year. Add to that uncertainty over legal and regulatory hurdles to blockchain adoption, and you could be forgiven for thinking 2018 was a bad year for the technology.
If it was supposed to be a bad year, someone forgot to tell blockchain hiring managers and recruiters, as hiring sites saw huge surges in openings for blockchain- and crypto-related jobs. Glassdoor saw a 300 percent jump between August 2017 and August 2018.
So for those eager to start or advance a career in blockchain, you don’t need to worry that the moment has passed you by. Whether you’re an engineer, designer or developer or you fill a business-related role, there’s no doubt you should consider a career in blockchain in 2019 if the promise of this emerging technology is something you find exciting.
Blockchain Industry at a Glance
2018 was tough for cryptocurrencies’ value, but a look at the broader data reveals a more complex story. Let’s take a closer look:
- 79% decline in market cap in 2018
- The story is even worse when you take Bitcoin out of the mix, as non-Bitcoin cryptocurrencies shed almost 90 of their total value.
Barriers to adoption
What’s keeping companies from using blockchain technologies? According to a PwC Global survey, the top concerns are:
- Regulatory uncertainty: 48%
- Low trust among users: 45%
- Inability to bring network together: 44%
A big bright spot
- Despite those concerns, companies are still investing in blockchain, which leads to more jobs.
- Increase in blockchain job listings on Glassdoor between August 2017 and August 2018
- Median blockchain salary, far higher than the national median wage for all jobs
Despite a bumpy 2018, 2019 looks to be a banner year for jobs in blockchain, and here are nine of the best jobs to consider, which companies and industries are hiring and what salary levels you could expect to see when you hit the job market.
Blockchain Technologies You’ll Need to Know
While each job and company are unique, several technologies and skill sets are common across all hands-on technology roles at blockchain companies, and even if you’re not typing code all day, it’s helpful to understand the basics of the underlying technology. Here’s a look at some of what you’ll likely need to know:
Tools & languages
- HyperLedger Fabric
Broad skills & traits
- Creative thinking: As a constantly evolving technology, the way you apply blockchain on your first day at work likely will change over time, so you need to be creative enough to imagine how the code you’re working on might be used 10 years from now.
- Passion: Ask the average person to explain blockchain and chances are you’ll get blank stares, but if you’re going to work in blockchain, even in non-technical roles, you need to love the underlying technology and know how to translate it for a general audience.
- Humility: Remember you’re working on an emerging technology in a company or department that’s potentially unstable. If you approach your job as if you’re the king of everything, you could be in for a rude awakening if regulations or laws change.
Top 9 Blockchain Careers & Jobs for 2020
As we already mentioned, just because you’re not a hot-shot engineer or developer doesn’t mean you can’t get in on the blockchain job boom, as some of these jobs prove.
1. Software Engineer
Any company investing in blockchain needs software engineers, making this job by far the most in-demand among all companies hiring. Specific duties will vary according to the industry and how developed the company’s existing technology is, but experience in ledger technologies like Solidity and HyperLedger Fabric, as well as database, programming, cloud and other languages will be required.
Most companies are seeking individuals with at least undergraduate degrees in computer science, computer engineering or other engineering degrees, especially for high-paying senior roles.
Popular industries include currencies, of course, but also smart contracts, regulatory technology, banking and others.
- Chronicled (San Francisco), Axuall (Cleveland), Blockstack (New York)
2. Technology Architect
A role that requires technical expertise but also a strong dose of the human touch, blockchain technology architects are responsible for end-to-end implementation of blockchain solutions. Technology architects participate in broad discussions on what and how technologies will be implemented and often serve as the company’s representative to customers.
Knowledge of and experience in the programming languages needed to produce blockchain applications are needed, and computer science degrees are generally required for senior roles.
Popular industries include cloud and web services, cryptocurrency and business services.
- Amazon/AWS (Seattle and Los Angeles), Bank of America (Charlotte, North Carolina), State of Colorado (Denver)
3. Product Manager
These individuals lead all aspects of design and development of blockchain applications across multiple teams, ensuring products are delivered on time and in budget. Hands-on programming experience is generally not required, but knowledge of languages and programs used is helpful. Experience with project timelines and budgets isrequired.
Required education varies widely depending on the specific products developed at each company, but generally, successful candidates will have at least bachelor’s degrees a technology- or management-related field.
Industries include advertising and media, cryptocurrency and banking.
- Mediaocean (New York), JP Morgan Chase (New York), Cynet Corp. (Springdale, Arkansas)
4. Risk Analyst
Ensuring compliance with local, state and federal regulations, a blockchain risk analyst’s daily job will vary depending on the industry and how developed their employer’s technology is, but they could be aiding in programming and development, conducting data analysis or maintaining documentation on products and technologies.
The required education will depend entirely on the specifics of the job, but risk analysts interested in careers in blockchain should have a strong grasp on the technology and specific programming languages used to build blockchain applications.
Most risk analyst jobs in blockchain will be in finance- and government-related industries.
- Veem (Ottawa), Bank of America (Jacksonville, Florida), Electric Power Research Institute (Knoxville, Tennessee)
Analyst Relations Manager
Primarily a media communications role, an analyst relations manager at a blockchain company helps position the company and its technology the company’s broad industry and the market at large. This person is responsible for ensuring that analysts within the industry are aware of their employer’s technology and consider it a viable and positive option for their own companies or clients.
Successful candidates will have experience and education in media, communications, PR or journalism as well as a deep understanding of blockchain, related technologies and issues within the industry.
Industries hiring analyst relations managers are ones where good PR is necessary for continued adoption of technology, such as government, banking and consumer technology.
- IBM (New York), Accenture (Atlanta, Chicago, Washington, D.C.), R3 (San Francisco)
Front End Engineer
Educational requirements vary, but generally, degrees in computer science are helpful, though self-taught computer scientists with work experience in web and computer design and programming will be strong candidates.
Popular industries include currencies, lending and banking and healthcare.
- Gem (Los Angeles), Binance (Austin, Texas), Ford Motor Co. (Dearborn, Michigan)
In an industry filled with legal and regulatory confusion, privacy issues and consumer protection statutes, as well as potential conflicts over intellectual property used to develop code and algorithms, lawyers are in huge demand in the blockchain industry. Blockchain lawyers don’t need to be programming experts, but they need to have or develop a deep understanding of the underlying technology and development processes so they can better protect their employers from legal trouble. Experience in mergers and finance law is helpful, too, as blockchain businesses are often targets for purchases by larger companies.
Successful candidates will need a law degree and license to practice, and most companies will heavily weight applicants with blockchain experience or years working for startups.
As regulatory and consumer privacy issues are central to any blockchain company, you likely can find employment in any field within blockchain.
- Consensys (New York), BitGo (Palo Alto, California), Figure (San Francisco)
Using data science and business analytics tools, business analysts in blockchain measure effectiveness and efficiency of deployed products and recommend updates and improvements. These individuals also monitor and examine market trends to recommend the best positioning of the company and potential new products. Deep knowledge of data analysis tools and programming languages, such as Python, is necessary.
Particularly for senior roles, degrees in data or computer science will be needed, and experience with programming languages related to blockchain is helpful.
Most openings for business analysts in blockchain are likely to be in consumer-facing products, as those markets shift quickly.
- IBM (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina), NuArca (Wodburn, Massachusetts), Bittrex (Washington, D.C.)
Cryptocurrency Community Manager
A key part of marketing and customer support, blockchain community managers maintain and develop their employers’ presence on social media, forums and other internet outlets as well as developing content appropriate to answer customers’ frequent questions. They also are responsible for reporting engagement statistics across all channels.While they won’t be in charge of programming their employers’ blockchain applications, they need a well of understanding about the product and underlying technology.
A marketing or PR degree likely won’t be necessary, but successful applicants won’t be entry-level individuals, as blockchain companies, which are likely to be startups, don’t have deep benches for these roles, so you’ll need to hit the ground running.
Consumer-facing industries, like banking, frequently hire in these roles, as do blockchain recruitment agencies.
- Dolare (South Bend, Indiana), Zeus Protocol (San Francisco), Crowdcreate (Los Angeles)
* Information on job openings, responsibilities, salaries and companies gathered from Indeed and Glassdoor in early January 2019
Despite a rocky 2018 in cryptocurrencies, the blockchain is alive and well, judging by investment in human capital.
In addition to the 300 percent increase seen on Glassdoor, freelance marketplace Upwork reported midway through last year that blockchain was the most sought-after skill by employers. Plus, blockchain companies are scoring major influxes of cash from venture capitalists, with blockchain and crypto startups boosting their VC investments by 280 percent in 2018.
Whether your skill set is in cracking out code or putting the company’s best foot forward, if you have a passion for blockchain and cryptocurrencies, there’s likely a company hiring near you now, and that trend is likely to continue through 2019.
- Global Charts. (2018). Retrieved from https://coinmarketcap.com/charts/
- Blockchain is here. What’s your next move? (2018). Retrieved from https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/issues/blockchain/blockchain-in-business.html
- The Rise of Bitcoin & Blockchain: A Growing Demand for Talent. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.glassdoor.com/research/rise-in-bitcoin-jobs/
- Upwork releases Q1 2018 Skills Index, ranking the 20 fastest-growing skills for freelancers. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.upwork.com/press/2018/05/01/q1-2018-skills-index/
- VC Investment in Blockchain Startups Is Up 280% So Far This Year. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.coindesk.com/vc-investment-in-blockchain-startups-is-up-280-so-far-this-year