Blockchain Demand Shatters Ceiling for Salaries

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on Aug 22, 2018 9:00:00 AM

In ICS insights, hiring trends, Job Trends, Job Search Tips, IT, Candidate

Blockchain skills are becoming a hot commodity in the market, especially for freelancers. Upwork, a freelance job site, recently released a list of the 20 hottest skills in the industry. It shows that blockchain skills have increased exponentially this year. Blockchain tech talent came in second behind robotics skills in the last quarterly report.

Blockchain seems to be the next big thing in technology, as the 'cloud' was in the mid-2000's. Growth on Upwork exceeded 2000 percent in three quarters. This year's Q1 growth was 6,000 percent over last year. It's the fastest-growing skill of more than 5,000 on the site.

According to another Upwork report, 53 percent of hiring managers suggested that access to preferred skills was a major hiring challenge. The majority (59 percent) were currently using flexible talent.

Workers with computers and mathematical skills are in high demand, with 17 percent more supply than demand this year, according to Burning Glass Technologies. The data analytics firm stated that about 5,743 full-time job openings requested blockchain skills over the last 12 months, that's a growth of 320 percent.

Preliminary interest suggests blockchain has evolved due to the growing number of corporations taking the distributed ledger seriously. Major companies like IBM and Samsung already leverage the blockchain in innovative ways. In another example, Salesforce plans to unveil its own blockchain offering during its Dreamforce conference this fall.

Burning Glass Technologies

Developers who know bitcoin cryptocurrency took third place for freelance skills in a previous Upwork quarterly report but have dropped out of the top 20 list of job skills. Instead, blockchain technologists command up to $250 per hour on Upwork's listings.

As skills continue to specialize, corporations need to put money into bringing current staff up to date on the jobs of tomorrow. If they can't keep up, companies will have to leverage freelance professionals, who are twice as prone to proactively stay up to date with their skills. Fortune 500 companies have already started this process, but finding flexible workers will become more difficult as hiring gets harder.

A fulltime blockchain developer makes about $140,000 in the U.S. Compare this to typical software developers, whose average pay is $105,000. In Silicon Valley, blockchain developers command up to $163,000; in New York City, they get up to $150,000. Most of the demand for this skillset is concentrated in tech-tech areas. 

Blockchain as a Disruptive Skill

Blockchain is an emerging "disruptive skill," both hard to get and growing fast, according to Burning Glass. Technology and hiring patterns are still in the early stages, so employers must begin understanding where they'll find blockchain talent. At the same time, many enterprises are still figuring out how technology will change their business.

Blockchain is now connected to finance, due to its beginnings in cryptocurrencies, so major banks like Capital One, Liberty Mutual, and Bank of America have openings available. Consensys and other companies are devoted to creating related applications. The demand has moved behind banking, however. Accenture, Deloitte, SAP, and IBM are honing in on the possibilities offered by blockchain technology.

This is further proof that the business world is taking blockchain seriously. To further that point, CME Group Inc. recently announced its plans to launch bitcoin futures. Cryptocurrency has increased its market capitalization to $172 billion, of which bitcoin accounts for more than half, or $94 billion.

Gartner has predicted that the value-add of blockchain will pass the $3.1 trillion mark by 2030, showing its promise for business applications and as a technology that's not likely to go away anytime soon.

SAP conducted a recent survey that revealed 92 of business leaders see an opportunity in the blockchain. The most promising use cases included: 

  • Supply chain and IoT 63 percent
  • Legal/regulatory 19 percent
  • Cryptocurrency 8 percent
  • Sustainability 3 percent

In addition, the World Economic Forum has developed a toolkit to aid leaders in better understanding how blockchain can meet their company's business needs. Executives are striving to navigate this technology, creating a rising demand for experts who can help demystify it and decode its usability for different corporations.


For one thing, blockchain eliminates the requirement of central administration, so it bypasses the need for relational databases. Enterprises want to know how the blockchain distributed ledgers improve efficiency.

Logs are a trusted tracking source to determine what happened and are used to satisfy regulatory auditors. Tech vendors are often quizzed on the benefits of the blockchain in terms of auditing and verifying logs.

It's a hot topic in tech right now. Computer World reports a lot of questions about blockchain and its potential in the corporate world. It may be driven by the mystique around any new technology, and people do seem to want to understand the latest buzzword. That doesn't detract from its real potential value for different firms.

Listed below are the 20 fastest-growing freelance skills as compiled in the first quarter of 2018. Blockchain saw a more than 130 percent increase since last year. This top skill increases 400 percent over the same period in 2017.

  • Adobe Premiere
  • Amazon DynamoDB
  • AngularJS development
  • Art direction
  • Augmented reality
  • Blockchain
  • Chatbot development
  • Computer vision
  • Content strategy
  • Go development
  • Information security
  • Instagram API
  • Machine learning
  • Media buying
  • Microsoft Power BI
  • React native
  • Scala development
  • Subtitling
  • Tensorflow
  • Voice over

Banks and financial institutions are migrating to blockchain in herds. Its open, cross-border system gives them unprecedented freedom when it comes to clearing and settling international transactions. Take IBM for example. The tech giant built its own blockchain service to facilitate international currency exchange for several banks.

In 2017, IBM teamed up with a Polynesian payments provider as well as an open-source network for FinTech payments to come up with a brand new exchange that innovative team members based off the blockchain and the concept of an electronic ledger. It plans to service 12 currencies throughout the Pacific Islands and New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

As another example, Mastercard also plans to create a blockchain-based network that will allow banks and merchants to complete international payments quickly and securely. The Mastercard blockchain will serve to clear credit card transactions and reduce expenses by using smart contracts.

Last October, JP Morgan released a pilot blockchain program that accepts global payments. They stated that the so-called Interbank Information Network was based on the blockchain and designed to improve the customer experience. It was predicted that transaction time would fall from weeks to hours and have a positive impact on cost savings.

Blockchain Explained

The blockchain is an electronic ledger and is like relational databases. It can be shared openly among unrelated users and create an immutable record of each transaction. It's time-stamped and linked to prior transactions and can be used as a private e-ledger.

In an electronic ledger, a block is a transaction or thread, and open or controlled users have access to participate. Each block links to a user.

IBM and Maersk

Ocean shipping accounts for ninety percent of globally traded goods. Let's look at how this massive industry can benefit from the blockchain. IBM and Maersk have introduced a new blockchain solution to manage and track the complex paper trail associated with tens of millions of containers journeying between ports.

By nature, blockchain requires a consensus among participants to update a block or transaction. Once new data is placed, it can't be erased. This true and verifiable data point is applied to every transaction made.

Artificial intelligence and automation fields first took advantage of the blockchain. This is where blockchain skills began to gain prominence. Now, it's spread to software developers, financial quantitative analysts, and traditional roles.

The interesting thing is something called a hybrid-job economy that is gaining popularity with the blockchain craze. When employers and recruiter seek out talent to fill job descriptions, there's a rising notion that jobs are simply sets of skills, many of which are transferable. 

Some of the fastest-growing and highest-valued jobs involve a sort of mixed-skill genome. For instance, if you're a mobile app writer, you could be asked if you have commerce and marketing skills traditional web developers aren't expected to have.

The blockchain has similar characteristics for reasons that aren't new. There's a foundational technology shift happening that requires a fundamental change in how a business will be conducted in the future.

How You Can Become a Blockchain Developer

If you want to become a developer for blockchain applications, you can start with online courses on MOOCs and available from schools like Harvard and Princeton.

Stanford University's Coursera is a one such MOOC that is based on venture-backed education that focuses on technology and other industries.

There are a lot of companies interested in blockchain developers. They are advertising for skills like JavaScript and Python, both standard tech skillsets commanding high salaries. Others want developers to have cryptography and machine learning in their toolkits

Despite the new skills and tools, consultants and top-tier developers aren't likely to classify the blockchain as new ground.  However, if you are planning to make a similar switch, this is a great way to move up to higher salaries.

Financial services were the first industry to see the potential in blockchain technology, but industries like technology service providers, health care, healthcare, real estate, and power utilities have been quick to catch up. Maybe it's time to find out what the blockchain has to offer your organization.

ShelterZoom is a new player that has created a blockchain used to sell and buy real estate online. It's in beta testing and will be available online soon. 

IBM Watson Health, as well as the Food and Drug Administration, will also enter the blockchain to provide security for patient data exchange. This addresses the need to protect sensitive medical records, data from mobile devices and wearables, and clinical trials are all prone to security breaches.

Blockchain can be found in industries such as administrative services, retail sales, warehousing and transportation, and it's also being used to manage supply chains across distributed environments.

Another area that can use the blockchain to add security and accessibility is the stock trades. The settlement on trades requires a lot of time due to the movement between different systems. This means it may well take days to complete transactions and the added cost is also prohibitive. In general, transferring money around the globe leaves a lot of room for improvement over the current technology.

An open, distributed ledger can verify transactions and build in logic regarding the transaction details. This could result in a great cost reduction and increase the ways companies and organization move to the blockchain

Get Paid More

Whether you're in a blockchain environment or considering a career in this technology, there will be ample chances to explore your options. It seems that the salaries involved offer a strong incentive to make an effort. Contact ICS for opportunities to get paid your worth. We have plenty of open roles for talented professionals, and we'd love to place you in a job that makes you truly happy. Click below to start your search.

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