In Fast-Growing Blockchain Skills Category, A Lot Of Demand Is From Startups. Some Jobs Pay $200/Hour

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Written by Dana Sanchez

As the cryptocurrency universe expands, more businesses are looking for job candidates with experience in blockchain, the technology underlying digital tokens such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

A lot of the growing demand for blockchain talent comes from startups, Bloomberg BNA reported. There are at least 1,520 blockchain startups, according to AngelList.

“People are desperate to get into this field, because it’s the direction the technology is going,” said Katheryn Griffith Hill in a Bloomberg Law. Hill is lead recruiter of Blockchain Developers, a staffing agency focused on blockchain talent. told Bloomberg Law.

Upwork, a freelancing platform for freelancers, says blockchain is its fastest-growing skill category, CNBC reported. LinkedIn says there has been a fourfold rise in bitcoin job postings and more people are adding bitcoin and related skills to their profiles.

Some jobs pay more than $200 an hour.

Workers with blockchain experience are hard to find because the technology is so new, but massive open online courses (MOOCs) and certification programs are starting to make up for the short supply of degree programs, according to Bloomberg BNA.

“A lot of companies have realized that they need to either adopt, adapt and find a place for themselves in a world that is going to run on the blockchain” or be left on the sidelines, Akshi Federici told Bloomberg Law. Federici leads ConsenSys Academy, the education arm of ConsenSys, a venture production studio building blockchain products.

Hiring a blockchain professional is costly. The hourly pay ranges from $50 to $200-plus.

Chris Barber, 39, worked at an engineering firm as a project manager but for the past year has been working as a blockchain consultant charging $225 an hour, according to CNBC:

“I thought this was a great opportunity to reinvent my career. I started charging $50/hour then due to high interest I increased my rate,” Barber said. Barber is currently working with a man in Dubai who wants to build a short-term rental market replacement using blockchain. He is in the process of creating a smart contract code to support this idea.

Some of the top titles for blockchain professionals in 2017 on LinkedIn included CEO, software engineer, co-founder, chief technology officer, and founder, according to a company spokesperson. The high percentage of blockchain professionals holding high positions reflects the number of blockchain startups, Hill told Bloomberg.

Tech software and financial services are the two largest sectors posting blockchain jobs on LinkedIn. Tech hardware and professional services are also seeing big increases.

Big companies are hiring blockchain talent, often for in-house projects that function somewhat as startups, Hill said. In 2017, IBM had 400-plus blockchain projects, employing more than 1,600 employees on them, and had more than 150 blockchain-related job openings in October alone, according to the company.

“Blockchain impacts every industry in the world. In the future, nearly every application, interface, online provision will work on the blockchain, whether people know that’s happening or not,” Federici told Bloomberg.

Gap in blockchain skills and education

There aren’t many traditional four-year degrees in blockchain. It’s an evolving technology with a short history, Federici said. By the time a degree program is created, the knowledge and applications will have changed. In addition, it’s hard to offer holistic courses, Federici said:

Blockchain is fundamentally an interdisciplinary field and it doesn’t fall cleanly into buckets of computer science, law, or business. Putting real life business processes into codes requires understanding of business, laws, and beyond, “hence it is something that can’t be learned in a silo,” she said. It’s also a field best learned by doing, she said.

Consensys Academy, CryptoCurrency Certification Consortium, B9 Labs, and Byte Academy all offer blockchain certification programs. Academic institutions such as Stanford University, Princeton University, and various MOOC platforms are also offering courses on blockchain and cryptocurrency. The University of Nicosia in Nicosia, Cyprus, offers a Master of Science degree in Digital Currency, available worldwide through an online format.

Although team members usually have a mix of experience levels, some positions do require experience working with blockchain frameworks, or even the ability to build a blockchain from scratch, Hill said.

Experienced blockchain developers are harder to come by, so hiring managers have to be flexible, Hill said. The developers are often already busy with a project and it can be hard to pull them away, she said.

But she offered a few tricks. Go to them instead of having them come to you, Hill suggested. Find their work and reach out to them on GitHub, Stackoverflow, or Reddit; it’s also worth visiting blockchain meetups, developer conferences, and blockchain-specific platforms such as Coind, Ethlance, Bitcointalk. “They love talking about blockchain because they’re passionate about it, and they are excited that people are understanding the need for this technology,” she said.

Also be prepared to have them working remotely, Hill said, because they’re usually further along in their careers and settled in where they live. They’re also usually very busy working on other projects and often contributing to the open source community outside of their jobs.

To lure the best blockchain developers, it’s also important to understand them, show them the potential impact of their work,Blockchain Developers suggests, because they’re in it for changing the world.

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Image: Xoana Herrera