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How to Transform Into a Blockchain Developer

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on Aug 15, 2018 9:00:00 AM

In ICS insights, Job Search Tips, IT, Candidate

In Silicon Valley, New York City, or Boston, a blockchain developer has an annual average salary of $158,000. This is $18,000 higher than regular software developers. Those who have blockchain iterations experience, such as Hyperledger Composer and Solidity, command even greater salaries. 

Top Blockchain Developer Jobs

Solidity is a blockchain programming language used to forge smart contracts, which are self-executing scripts. Hyperledger Composer is a version of blockchain that's open source and based on JavaScript. It has REST API support so that developers and non-developers can make business networks.

Besides Hyperledger, the world's second-leading blockchain platform is Ethereum, and these tools form the basis for a number of decentralized apps (Dapps) from smart contracts plugged into cryptocurrencies like Ethereum's Ether. Next to blockchain engineers on the list of fastest-growing jobs, you can find a related skill. Bitcoin cryptocurrency developers are in high demand, and blockchain is the technology underlying Bitcoin.

Background for Blockchain Developers

If you are thinking about adding blockchain to your list of skills or looking for a career as a blockchain developer, you may already know programming languages like Python, Java, and related languages. However, there's no prerequisite to adding this to your toolbox.

Luckily, most universities are recognizing the need for curricula based on this new technology. Hopefully, there will be a good volume of new programmers capable of operating in the blockchain environment within just a few years. This allows companies to find adequate candidates who fit the corporate culture.

Some of the U.S. universities that now offer blockchain classes are MIT, with two cryptocurrency engineering and design courses, and Stanford University, which offers a class known as Bitcoin Engineering that teaches software developers to make bitcoin-enabled apps. Besides these, you can look into specialty schools, like Mountain View's Blockchain University in California or London-based B9lab, offering an online Certified Ethereum Developer Training course.

This is great news for those who have to learn this technology for their job. It's also a great time to consider a career switch to technology that's likely to be around for years to come. Those coming from other fields will find a great tie into the business-oriented blockchain applications sprouting up.

The founder of B9lab says that they've been running these courses for more than two years and have trained over 1,000 people coming from an astounding 75 countries. The company's most successful students have sysadmin experience and have worked with JavaScript at prior jobs. However, enough focus and determination enable people from diverse backgrounds to do well in these courses.

If you need to become proficient quickly, the best way may be to learn on your own time or go to programs offered by blockchain vendors and those in the industry, like Blockapps, Consensys, Hyperledger, and the Ethereum Foundation.

Hyperledger falls under the Linux Foundation and is a collaboration across many industries. It's designed to move forward blockchain technology. Its Hyperledger Fabric and Sawtooth frameworks act as modular foundations to create distributed ledgers for business operations. Software developers are the main people who take blockchain courses, but if you want to gain business knowledge of distributed ledger technology, you can do that without programming experience. You can even learn to create blockchain ledgers for your company.

Types of Blockchain Courses

For instance, Hyperledger offers an intro course for operations and business people who need to learn how the new technology can work for their organization. The course includes a quick guide for techies who need to start building blockchain apps using the Hyperledger framework.

You can complete a blockchain Hyperledger course in 40 hours. However, there's no time limit on actually finishing the course. Therefore, if you are a developer who wants to learn coding at a deeper level, you can take particular courses for blockchain like Sawtooth or Hyperledger Fabric. If you need a certificate in Hyperledger blockchain tech, then prove something online from edX. This costs about $99, and you get a certificate.

These courses are often taken by people with no development experience. It provides working examples for projects in Hyperledger Fabric and Sawtooth. Many of these classes are step-by-step instructions that work through examples. For those with no programming experience, this could be a greater challenge. In fact, it might be a good idea to start with another programming language to get used to staring at a command line.

Example of One Developer Who Made the Switch

This is probably the best way to show how developers can get into blockchain development. Last year, Kuhrt marked her 10th year as a software developer at PayPal. She worked her way up through the ranks. Eventually, she got into a strategic architecture team and was given the task of researching blockchain technology.

Kuhrt needed to find out if this was a smart move for her organization. She designed and presented a proof-of-concept idea that created a rewards point program using Hyperledger Fabric, an open source platform. She grew very excited about the project and determined to pursue a career as a blockchain developer.

She said that the project with Hyperledger gave her a great way to get into an entry-level position. Then, she took a job at Hyperledger, and the technology is expected to make big changes in the way business is conducted. 

As part of her new role, Kuhrt connects outside tech reps to the Hyperledger's blockchain initiatives.

Since the courses went online, 72,925 people signed up with 2,252 completing their courses. The skyrocketing enrollment follows the trend of blockchain adoption in more and more industries. For example, blocking applications, renewable energy, certificate trading, management, care record management, and the other fields.

Toptal Services

Toptal, a service that connects various software developers with employers, just launched a new blockchain specialization service for businesses hunting for blockchain engineers. Toptal connects employers and software developers, and they recently launched a new blockchain specialization to aid businesses searching for blockchain engineers. Since the beginning of 2017, demand for this expertise increased by 700 percent.

Venture capitalist and enterprises are both looking to invest capital in the blockchain. The challenge in the industry is that the need for this technology is outpacing the supply of trained tech talent. Only a sustainable pool of the elite candidates will meet this growing need and let employers implement this new technology.

Moving into the role of a blockchain developer takes some effort and requires a significant amount of time since you have to master new tools and technology. However, it's an excellent way to make a career move or to advance your current career. Plus, demand has never been stronger.

How to Transition to a Blockchain Career

If you're looking to start a career as a blockchain developer, you need to have a plan. The transition involves several steps, but the first step for anyone who wants to take this leap is to choose which technology you want to concentrate on first. The range is wide and includes developing open-source blockchains like Bitcoin, designing business networks with Hyperledger and other modular platforms and creating public smart contracts via Solidity.

If you have back-end experience or have been a lower level developer (cryptography), the transition will be easier.  Toptal sets the bar high for the talent that it acquires. They expect their engineers to have a strong foundation in blockchain concepts. This includes cryptography and distributed systems, and you also have to know how the public blockchains work. One transition plan could be to take a course in cryptography to get a firm foundation and then specialize in an area the matches your background.

Blockchain developer positions range from hourly to full-time. The role you have is determined by the size of the client and the ongoing projects you're assigned to at the time. In truth, the demand for both hourly and full-time candidates is way up.

Clients looking for this type of programmer range from startups looking to raise funds using an ICOs (initial coin offerings) to Fortune 100 enterprises moving major business components to blockchain. Developers are taking on distributed programming, cryptography, smart contracts, decentralized applications, and private blockchains.

Sometimes, clients choose to start with just a few developers on a part-time basis to get the project underway. Then, a large team is compiled, and the project really gets underway. The technologies that underlie blockchain are still evolving, so organizations are putting money into a need that will arise in the future anyway.

The supply of blockchain experts, however, still lags well behind the demand for their services. 

Unfortunately, the supply of blockchain experts is way behind the demand for blockchain services. Fortune 500 surveyed 200 people at Synechron Inc., a New York IT consultancy. About 55 percent said their plans included some kind of move to blockchain technology in the next ten years.

In order for blockchain to get a foothold in the industry, it needs more developers with the skills to work with the underlying technology. Even if 20,000 developers were currently working with the blockchain, that's still less than 1 in 1000 software developers worldwide.

A small number of developers will benefit in the short-term, but blockchain is the new game in town, and many developers need time to learn it. Whether you are in academia or an in-house developer for a corporation, as a technology provider, it's a good idea to get in-the-know regarding blockchain trends. Maybe you should consider attending a boot camp for blockchain developers. It provides an introduction to the technology via an 8-week course that cost about $10,000.

The Academy - School of Blockchain program says it's the only accredited school for blockchain code training. You can build your career around blockchain technology. The U.S. is just at the forefront of what will become a worldwide investment in blockchain technology. 

Following the U.S., Western Europe, Asia, and the Pacific Rim are expected to take advantage of blockchain technology to increase security for their sensitive documents and contracts. This means you could potentially work anywhere in the world and find a good job with this skill set.

By 2021, companies and organizations will have invested $9.2 billion to obtain technology that is expected to rival Linux and the open-source community of products.

2017 saw a lot of exploration in this nascent field. However, businesses are now seeing the benefits and challenges of this new world. That means that 2018 is a crucial year for enterprises to move from the proof-of-concept phase to full blockchain implementation.

Blockchain technology is likely to continue to infiltrate businesses for the long term. It's something people can build a career around. Now, all you have to decide is if this is a career for you.

Start Building Out Your Career

When you're certain that this is what you want, contact ICS. We can find you a job that is worth your consideration. We have plenty of open roles for professionals with your talents, and we have experience with growing out candidates' careers. Click below to start searching for the position that will catalyze your career. 

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