As a blockchain engineer, you will be responsible for creating and implementing digital solutions for companies that use blockchain. Blockchain allows many types of information to be shared and distributed to the public online without any copies being made. The information is never stored in a central location so it is a secure way for financial transactions to be conducted without financial companies and banks in the middle.
Blockchain engineers are needed to develop and implement things such as assets, accelerators and assisting with companies’ infrastructure set ups such as Ethereum and Bitcoin. Blockchain engineers may perform analysis of code artifacts and provide blockchain training to junior engineers. Many of these engineers may be responsible for determining what the application release dates will be and monitor blockchain implementation to ensure it is being done on time.
Professionals who want to be blockchain engineers often earn a masters in computer science degree or software engineering degree and supplement it with the many available blockchain development courses that are available online.
What Is Blockchain?
Blockchain is defined as a complete digital ledger of economic transactions that cannot be corrupted or hacked into. Blockchain can be programmed to record all types of financial transactions and virtually anything of any value in the world.
To better understand blockchain, it is helpful to think of sharing documents in Microsoft Word. Typically, one person will send a document to another person and have them make revisions. The issue with this situation is you need to wait to get a return copy before other changes are made. This is how databases currently operate. Banks and financial institutions operate in the same manner when they are handling money balances and transfers.
Banks will lock access when making a transfer and then reopen it when it is completed.
With Google Docs or Google Sheets, it is possible for more than one person to have access to the same document at the same time. This is a form of a shared ledger that is similar to how blockchain operates.
Because blockchain stores information that is identical across a network, it is impossible for it to be controlled by one entity, and it has no single point where it can fail.
Demand for blockchain engineers and developers is off the chart as more financial and other organizations are moving towards using blockchain in their businesses. As of this year, blockchain-related jobs are the #2 fastest-growing area in the labor market. According to one estimate, there are 14 jobs available for every one blockchain engineer.
Requests for professionals with blockchain programming skills are growing quickly. Last year, Upwork – the freelance talent marketplace – stated that blockchain skill demand grew the most out of more than 5000 skills as far as billing hours by freelancers. This was a one year increase of more than 35,000%. Those requests included ICO advisory services, blockchain engineering jobs and blockchain consulting.
Since early 2017, demand for blockchain engineers on Toptal.com has grown 700%, and 40% of the managed software development projects on that site so far this year have asked for blockchain skills. Skills that businesses are especially seeking are Hyperledger Fabric and Ripple development. Another very important blockchain skill for engineers to possess is Solidity, which is a smart contract programming language used for Ethereum.
Blockchain engineers also are working across the globe on projects such as Hashgraph, which deals with scalability, with major public companies such as SinglePoint being active in large blockchain integrations.
The career path of blockchain engineer is still quite new, and getting a firm handle on different career paths is challenging. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the software developer career, which is related to blockchain engineer, is seeing very strong growth overall.
BLS reports job demand for software engineers will soar by 24% by 2026, which is much faster than average. Also, employment for application developers will rise by an impressive 31%, while demand for systems developers will rise 11%. It is expected that much of the demand for these jobs and fields will be in blockchain engineering.
For software developers, available jobs are in these sectors:
- Computer systems design: 35%
- Software publishers: 10%
- Finance and insurance: 10%
- Manufacturing: 7%
- Management of companies and enterprises: 5%
There were a total of 831,000 software developer jobs available as of 2017. It is expected that a lot of the growth for blockchain engineers will be in the finance and insurance fields.
According to BLS, the median annual salary for software developers was $101,700 as of May 2017, with the top 10% earning more than $160,000 per year. Below is more information about the salary level for software developers in various sectors of the economy:
- Software publisher: $112,000
- Manufacturing: $109,000
- Finance and insurance: $105,100
- Management of companies and enterprises: $100,400
- Computer systems design: $98,400
According to the website Hackernoon.com,. Blockchain engineers and developers are commanding very robust salaries. In the US, some areas of the country are seeing salaries for $158,000. Silicon Valley, New York City and Boston are offering salaries at this level, while regular software developers earn around $140,000 per year.
In Switzerland, some blockchain engineers are earning $120,000 to $180,000 per year. In Great Britain, large companies are paying between $90,000 and $140,000 per year for blockchain engineers. Blockchain development engineer consultants can often bill for up to $100 per hour.
With a blockchain engineering or software development degree, you can work for many large and small companies. Some of the companies that are currently hiring blockchain engineers and developers on Indeed.com are:
- nCent Labs, Inc.: $106,000 per year
- RiskSpan: $100,000+ per year
- HashPets: $60 to $80 per hour
- POA Network: $200,000 per year
- L&T InfoTech: $100,000+ per year
- Ascension12: $220,000 per year
- IBM: $100,000+ per year
- OMB Technologies: $75,000 to $150,000 per year
- Visa: $100,000+ per year
- WeTuring: $90,000+ per year
- Booz Allen Hamilton: $100,000+ per year
- Circle Internet Financial: $90,000+ per year
Technology professionals who want to get started as a blockchain engineer or developer will do well to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science and/or software engineering. You will learn the concepts and principles of software engineering and will explore the emerging technologies and systems that are driving computing ahead, including blockchain technologies.
While there are no blockchain developer degrees at present, there are many courses you can take on blockchain, such as these available at Coursera and other educational organizations:
- IBM Blockchain Foundation for Developers
- Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies
- Blockchain Technology – A Guide to the Blockchain Ecosystem
- edX – Blockchain for Business – Introduction to Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger
To increase your long term salary and ability to take on leadership positions, it could be a smart choice to earn a master’s degree in software engineering so that you will learn how to develop software products and services through software analysis, architecture and design. There are many online master’s programs in software engineering to consider, such as the one available through Penn State World Campus. Once you have completed this degree program, you can add blockchain developer and engineering skills by continuing to take courses online as they become more available. As noted above, there are some classes online today, but there will be many more in the future.
All universities can set their own requirements for admission, but for a master’s degree in software engineering, you can expect these sort of requirements:
- Bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field
- College transcripts
- Prerequisite courses in computer science, calculus and mathematics
- Two or three letters of recommendation
- GMAT or GRE scores may be required
- 3.0 GPA is often required
- Resume with several years of technical experience in computer science
Each program will have its own curriculum, but you can expect a blockchain engineer degree or software engineering degree to have these types of courses:
- Database Design Concepts
- Pattern Oriented Design
- Requirements Engineering
- Software Systems Design
- Software Systems Architecture
- Applied Human Computer Interaction
- Software Construction
- Software Testing
Given the huge demand for blockchain, software engineering and computer science skills, there are many scholarships and grants you can find to help to pay for your education. Below are some of financial assistance you can obtain. Also be sure to check your university as they may have scholarships specific to that school.
- Coindesk Scholars Program (specifically for blockchain developers)
- Applicature Scholarship Program for College Students (specifically for blockchain developers)
- AACE International Competitive Scholarships
- ExCEL Computing Scholarships
- CyberCorps Scholarship for Service Program
- Xerox Technical Minority Scholarship
- SMART Scholarship
- AFCEA Cyber Security Scholarship
- Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship
- ESA Foundation Scholarship Program
The field of blockchain engineering and developing is new, so the certifications are limited at this time. But one that was introduced recently was Certified Blockchain Expert (CBE) that is offered by the Blockchain Council. CBE certification will teach you what blockchain is, how it works and how to use knowledge of the technology to build Blockchain applications for all types of companies.
Below are some associations to explore if you want a career as a software engineer or blockchain engineer.
- International Decentralized Association of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain
- Association for Computing Machinery
- Computing Research Association
- Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence
- Software Engineering Society
- Association of Software Professionals
The career path for blockchain engineers and developers is growing extremely quickly. While there is no exact blockchain engineer degree today per se, smart tech professionals will earn their software engineering or computer science degree at the bachelor’s or master’s level, and supplement those degrees with blockchain developer courses.
- Blockchain Jobs and Salaries. (2018). Retrieved from https://hackernoon.com/blockchain-jobs-and-salaries-2018-report-45d3e7741c19
- Blockchain Engineers Are in Demand. (2018). Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/14/blockchain-engineers-are-in-demand/
- Software Developers. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm#tab-5