Blockchain has come a long way in a short time. The technology debuted a little over a decade ago, and only came to any real degree of mainstream attention due to the 2017 cryptocurrency bubble. Jobs in the blockchain sector are a recent phenomenon, but this is a high-growth area of the fintech industry. Blockchain developers, blockchain engineers and other key roles are in demand, and those with the right competencies, experience and mindset can command a premium. Salaries for the blockchain world are substantially higher than those in corresponding positions with conventional employers, and if you have the right qualifications then a six-figure paycheck is easily within your grasp.
Crypto jobs come in all forms. Some require technical expertise; others are support or communications roles that do not need an in-depth understanding of programming languages or the nuts-and-bolts of what’s going on behind the scenes of the blockchain protocol (though the more you know, the more useful you’ll be to your employer – and the easier you’ll find it to move sideways or progress upwards to new roles). But you’d be wrong to think you can walk into the blockchain sector and treat your job as you would any other. While there are similarities with a ‘normal’ job, in order to thrive and make the most of the opportunity – including the money – you’ll almost certainly need to up your game. The good news is that for those who rise to the challenge, the rewards, financial and otherwise, can be considerable.
At the outset it’s worth stating that employment in the crypto sector is unlikely to be ‘just another job’. This is something people get into for a reason. It might be about the money, but the chances are it’s also because they believe in the ideals of decentralisation and the benefits of distributed systems and money, or because they love working at the bleeding edge of technology. Crypto jobs are becoming more common, but they’re still competitive, and somewhat niche. You’re unlikely simply to fall into this sector, because you’ll need specific skills and approaches you won’t have picked up unless you’ve gone looking for them.
Blockchain started out as an enthusiasts’ technology, much like the homebrew computer movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s, or the early days of the internet. Even as it goes mainstream, the best crypto jobs and salaries are still going to go to the ones who have already self-selected for them.
(Think how many of Apple’s earlier employees had degrees in computer science or formal qualifications in software development. Blockchain started out in the same way, with the first companies and organisations coming from the grassroots.) If this is a sector you want to get into, there are a handful of skills that will help – some non-negotiable, others that will improve your odds. Understanding of key blockchain principles
Blockchain requires a very different model for business and software development. Conventional systems and companies are all about centralisation and control. Not so for blockchain developers and organisations. You’ll need to appreciate what decentralisation entails in practice – what it means for system architecture, and what it means for users. There are no middlemen, no single points of failure and no points of control. It turns the normal model of interaction with software and services on its head. Think of something as ubiquitous as the well-known username/login standard for accessing a site. It takes a paradigm shift in thinking to grasp why that can’t apply in the blockchain world. More than understanding it, you’ll need to have bought into it, too – and be able to build or communicate systems that use those principles effectively.
We’re talking about both spoken languages and programming languages here. Blockchain is a global phenomenon and your community will be located across many countries, jurisdictions and language groups. Moreover, many blockchain jobs are remote, since it’s an inherently distributed technology and crypto companies don’t tend to restrict themselves to a specific geographical area – there are too few experts to limit the pool of potential employees.
While you might be able to get by just fine with one language, the ability to communicate with communities in other countries will always be an asset. English is the main language of blockchain, but there are large communities in Russia, China, Europe, and increasingly Latin America. Certain projects have particular demographics, so if that’s the case this is well worth considering – you may already have languages that make you an asset.
If you’re after that lucrative blockchain developer salary, you’ll need to think about programming languages. It’s worth knowing a few and figuring out what’s going to suit you best for your chosen career.
As a blockchain developer, you’ll need to be a cut above the competition. Crypto companies want the very best: they’re operating in a sector that is unforgiving of mistakes. So as well as being highly competent with certain languages, you’ll also be versed in the right processes, like Lean or Agile software development, and various toolkits.
On top of that, you’ll need the right mindset. You won’t be a 9-to-5 person or a clock-watcher since you’ll be expected to give 100% and your team may not have regular office hours. That can have benefits, too; a lot of people employed in the blockchain sector work remotely, around the world, and they set their own hours. But they get the work done, and they get it done to a very high standard.
Crypto jobs are meritocratic. The majority of people are satisfied with being good enough. In such an high-stakes environment as blockchain, however, ‘good enough’ is not good enough. You’ll be a self-starter, someone who doesn’t need their hand held and who can be left alone and will knuckle down and come up with the goods – and most likely add value above and beyond what you were asked for in the first place.
Be a Renaissance (wo)man
There’s a difference between getting by and thriving. If you’ve chosen a job in blockchain, it will be for a reason, and you’ll be setting your sights on thriving as soon as possible.
Even a few years back, the situation in the blockchain sector was very different. Work was informal, to say the least. It was almost always freelance, there were very few limited companies, anonymity was common (you wouldn’t always even know who you were working for) and payment was typically in cryptocurrencies or native project tokens. The risks were high, but the rewards could be enormous too – especially if you really knew your way around the blockchain world. There are benefits of working in a sector in which it is literally possible to create your own money, and getting paid in currencies that could appreciate rapidly in value.
Things have come a long way very fast. Today, a crypto job may be with a regular company and pay in fiat – though you may be part or fully paid in various cryptocurrencies. To make the most of the opportunities, it helps to be a Renaissance Man or Woman. You’ll know your key area well, of course – whether that’s software development or communications. But if you’re going to seize this with both hands, you’ll probably want to know a bit about a lot of other things too: how financial markets work, the nature of the banking system, currencies, principles of trading, market trends, different economic and political systems, computer security, cryptography… the good news is that if you’re really bought into crypto, learning all the time won’t feel like work at all.
Highest-paid crypto jobs
With the blockchain sector exploding, certain competencies are experiencing exceptional demand. Blockchain developer skills are highly desirable, and there are well-paid positions for product managers and technology architects too. But it’s not just blockchain developers. There are legal and compliance roles, for those with the right training, as well as vacancies in communications and community management.
Blockchain employers include large companies like IBM and Microsoft. Securing one of these roles is quite a prize, with good salaries and all the benefits of a regular employer, but will be a relatively conventional process. You’ll need to demonstrate several years of experience and success in relevant companies and positions. In other cases, the process will be less formal – especially if you’re working remotely or for a decentralised initiative. In that case, you’ll probably need a portfolio of previous work and a track record in the blockchain world. GitHub repositories and reputation can count for a lot.
Blockchain jobs: average salaries
Blockchain salaries are typically significantly higher than corresponding salaries in other sectors.
U.Today gives an overview of some of the major categories, noting that location matters as much as position. For example, the range of salaries for a blockchain developer varies considerably between continents: Asia: $60,000–120,000 (average salary $87,000) Europe: $55,000 – $91,000 (average salary $73,000) US: $70,000 – $200,000 (average salary $136,000) Remote: $70,000 – $200,000 (average $124,000)
Those figures will also vary depending on the size of company you work for. UK startups are paying new blockchain devs in the order of $50,000–60,000 per year, while big corporations effectively pay double that.
Three top jobs
Unsurprisingly, the best salaries are available to those with technical skills, though top communications jobs come a close second. Per market news, trends and developments site
CAGRvalue, they include: Blockchain developer. Salary: $175,000. Responsibilities: research, design and develop blockchain technologies, including smart contracts and dApps. Requirements: degree in Computer Science or Maths, and expertise in relevant programming languages (e.g. Python, Node, Java and JS). Blockchain data scientist. Salary: $175,000. Responsibilities: researching and analysing blockchain data. Requirements: in-depth knowledge of blockchain technology and coding experience. Blockchain marketing manager. Salary: $177,000. Responsibilities: communicate products and technologies to attract users and investors. Requirements: excellent communication skills, a relevant degree and extensive experience.
Meanwhile, a search on UK jobs site
Indeed throws up some impressive salaries for both contractors and full-time employees: £1,200 ($1,500) per day for Cryptocurrency Blockchain Technical Advisory. Knowledge of JPMCoin, Quorum, RippleNet and other similar blockchain technologies required. Senior blockchain developers come in at £600 ($800) per day. Commercial IP and Technology Partner is a full-time job that pays £150,000 to £250,000 (up to $325,000) per annum.
For those starting out, a blockchain engineer’s salary can be highly competitive. The average
Ethereum developer salary (Solidity) is $127,500, for example. Blockchain vs Conventional developer salaries
There is, of course, huge variation in salaries, both for regular employment and in crypto jobs. But blockchain salaries are likely to be higher for good reason. Firstly, the skills for these jobs are still under-represented in the workforce, so it’s a seller’s market. And secondly, the responsibility can be much higher. In the cryptocurrency industry, mistakes aren’t just embarrassing – they can be hugely costly. Lost funds as a result of bad code and faulty processes can wipe out an organisation, or at the very least cause significant reputational and legal problems. One way of helping avoid these issues is to hire only the very best, with the associated price tag on those employees.
According to jobs site
Hired, the average blockchain developer salary is around $150,000 to $175,000 per year. For comparison, the average software engineer’s salary is around $137,000 per year. That’s a 10–30% premium for blockchain. Not only that, but there are additional deals to be had. There are many promising start-ups in the crypto world, and if you get in on the ground floor and prove your worth, you could be looking at a package that includes equity and tokens as well as a healthy six-figure salary. Conclusion
Blockchain is a high-growth area of the fintech sector, and a wide range of companies are looking for professionals with blockchain experience. There are opportunities for both technical and non-technical positions, with the former including blockchain engineers and architects, and the latter including legal/compliance and communications roles.
The nature of the space is that crypto jobs are likely to pay significantly better than corresponding jobs in other industries, with blockchain developer salaries coming in around 20% higher on average. Six-figure salaries are common, with the best positions paying up to $200,000 per year – without factoring in any other benefits. If you make the most of the opportunities the crypto world has to offer, this can be even higher