It’s without a doubt that we are living in the blockchain era thanks to a quick innovation and adoption of the blockchain technology significantly contributing to its exponential growth.
However, with such rapid growth, blockchain has been hit by a significant shortage of blockchain developers with the required set of skills making it a very lucrative venture with senior developers earning up to $250, 000 a year.
Additionally, the number of blockchain developer job openings is considerately topping the latest job demand index by Upwork, AngelList, Bloomberg among others. With such a high demand for blockchain developers, the predominant question is what skillset blockchain companies are hiring. Here we’ll focus on the blockchain technology, who a blockchain developer is and the skill requirements necessary for blockchain developers.
• With the rapid development of blockchain technology even expanding to other industries away from the cryptocurrency space has driven the demand for blockchain developers hitting a significant global shortage.
• The high demand for blockchain developers has made blockchain development a lucrative career filled with numerous opportunities
• A blockchain developer should be equipped with both technical and business skills to develop both a functional and marketable blockchain system.
• Top of the major players in the blockchain space in high demand of blockchain developers include startups, legacies, tech firms and most governments.
Who is a Blockchain Developer?
A blockchain developer is essentially anyone involved in the development of blockchain networks and fundamentally trying to decentralize the web. A more specific definition would be an individual responsible for developing and augmenting blockchain protocols, designing blockchain system’s architecture, developing smart contracts and Dapps using various platforms such as Ethereum and NEO.
There are two types of blockchain developers, i.e. core blockchain developers and blockchain software developers. Core blockchain developers are tasked with the designing and developing a blockchain system’s architecture along with designing and testing its consensus protocol and also formulating crucial decisions relating to a blockchain system. Conversely, blockchain software developers are responsible for implementing the architecture and protocols designed by Core Blockchain developers in turn building Dapps that operate on the blockchain technology.
What are the Roles and Responsibilities of Blockchain Developers?
The roles and responsibilities of blockchain developers are generally categorized based on the two types of blockchain developers as discussed above. The roles of a core blockchain developer include:
• Designing blockchain protocols and the blockchain’s network architecture.
• Designing consensus protocols along with security patterns of the entire blockchain network.
• Researching and brainstorming on emerging blockchain technologies or innovative tools relating to the blockchain network.
• Participating in global blockchain community forums to be updated on latest blockchain technology development and later implementing and integrating workable development proposals.
• Supervising the entire blockchain network framework to solving emerging problems in real time to avert costly downtime.
• Documenting discovered improvements or solutions relating to a blockchain network.
Blockchain software developers have a separate role that does not involve designing instead focuses on implementing the designs. Some of their roles include:
• Development of Dapps with their Smart Contracts based on existing models.
• Implementing Dapps’ interactive front-end designs.
• Carrying out backend developments relating to a blockchain network
• Overseeing the full stack running their Dapps.
Skill Requirement for Blockchain Developers
Developing blockchain systems involves more than just coding in another programming paradigm. It requires an individual to adopt a new mindset that will focus on efficiency, scalability and distributed computing. Blockchain developers should not only focus on designing and implementing blockchain architecture but also look at the economic side of developing blockchain networks to realize maximum output. Additionally, the rapid change being witnessed in the blockchain space necessitates blockchain developers to be extremely agile so as to be always up to date with emerging trends and also adapt to changes swiftly.
Here are some of the technical and business skill requirements for blockchain developers.
I) Technical Skills
1. Blockchain Architecture
A blockchain developer should have in-depth knowledge of the working of a blockchain network and its architecture. This means that fundamental blockchain concepts such as cryptographic hash functions, distributed ledger technology and consensus should be well understood. Since blockchain is still a developing technology and most of the learning institutions have not implemented the course fully, developers should consider self-learning mainly through online blockchain courses offered by various organizations.
2. Developing Smart Contracts
A smart contract is basically a key functionality of the Dapps and has expanded rapidly since the release of Ethereum. With the blockchain technology is now spreading to other industries such as finance and insurance, it will need to incorporate smart contract functionality to achieve the desired business logic. Therefore, blockchain developers should be well vast with smart contract development to realize the efficient functioning of blockchain systems in these industries. Smart contract developments primarily involve learning specific programming languages such as Solidity for Ethereum platform.
3. Data Structures
Since blockchain is simply a digital database, developers should have an in-depth understanding of data structures along with their applicative end. Developing blockchain systems encompass manipulating existing data structures such as merkle trees, petrecia tress among others in an attempt to meet the network requirements. The data structures in a blockchain network should efficiently integrate with its cryptography to ensure that the entire system is secure and immutable to unauthorized malicious entry. This said blockchain developers should have a deep understanding of data structures to design and implement not only functional but secure blockchain systems.
Cryptography is a technique that involves developing and analyzing protocols aimed at achieving the various aspects of information security such as data integrity, confidentiality, non-repudiation and authentication. In a blockchain network, each block consists of a cryptographic hash, comprising of a timestamp and transaction data to secure the system. Essentially, the functioning of a blockchain network involves the aggregation of advanced cryptography and data structures. Therefore, a blockchain developer should have a comprehensive knowledge of cryptography. Additionally, cryptographic methods such as hash functions like SHA256 for Bitcoin demands blockchain developers to have an all-inclusive understanding of generating digital signatures using cryptographic techniques. It is impossible to develop blockchain networks without understanding asynchronous cryptography in addition to cryptographic methods.
5. Application Development
A rich background in developing apps would be an essential skill for a blockchain developer kickstarting their career in the blockchain space. This is because as a newbie blockchain developer, you are primarily employed to design decentralized applications; therefore, you must have some knowledge on both front-end and back-end development which involves skills such as developing interactive graphical user interface for Dapps, API handling, request handling and so much more.
6. Knowledge of Blockchain Platforms
A blockchain developer should have a deep understanding of various blockchain platforms such as Ethereum, NEO, Linux’s Hyperledger Fabric, R3 Corda among others. Having an understanding of the different blockchain platforms is vital in selecting the right platform for the development of an anticipated blockchain network. Additionally, using a multitude of frameworks to develop a single blockchain system would lead to implementation issues as the system would not be able to reconcile their differences. Therefore, it is essential to have a basic understanding of the various blockchain platforms.
II) Business Skills
1. Ability to Drive Business Outcomes
Blockchain networks involve massive investments; therefore, developers should learn how to drive profitable business outcomes by developing profit-based architecture. This means that blockchain developers should have a sense of business understanding to create useful blockchain networks. Developers should also look at exploring connections with players in the blockchain space such as investors so as ensure value for their blockchains developments.
2. Incorporating Blockchain Proficiency as a Service
Blockchain developers should embrace their knowledge on the blockchain technology as payable services instead of just offering free services. This means that they should partner with blockchain consortiums or establish their own companies to achieve the desired business outcomes.
3. Master of Interoperability
Blockchain developers should embrace an open mindset and come up with blockchain systems that can efficiently operate on different technology platforms without any deployment risks such as implementation fails. This way, they will be reducing network latency along with driving lucrative business outcomes.
4. Communication Skills
As a blockchain developer, you will be tasked with approaching potential investors to convince them to invest in your blockchain system by explaining to them how your system offers a solution to emerging or existing problems in addition to being cheaper, more secure and efficient than the existing alternatives. Therefore, a developer should have proper communication skills to realize the desired investments in their blockchain systems.
Who’s Hiring Blockchain Developers?
As mentioned earlier, blockchain developers are in high demand particularly because technology has grown to other industries such as health, insurance, finance, manufacturing among other industries. Additionally, the number of ICO startups have doubled since Ethereum’s success substantially driving the demand for blockchain developers. Below are some of the major players in the blockchain space in need of blockchain developers.
Since the massively successful Bitcoin launch in 2008, over 1,500 crypto startups have been launched raising over 3.7 billion USD mainly from ICOs. Startups involve a variety of independent businesses and products that use the blockchain technology and range from virtual currencies such as Monero, exchanges such as Bittrex along with online wallet providers. They, therefore, are in high demand of blockchain developers to design and implement blockchain systems for their projects or products.
This is industries such as finance, insurance, law and manufacturing that have realized the importance of blockchain systems in their daily operations and are now transitioning to the blockchain technology. Firms in these industries have noted the rapid development of blockchain technology and now have to implement it to avoid being driven out of business. They, therefore, are in need of blockchain expertise to design and implement their own personalized blockchain systems. They are even hiring a whole team of blockchain experts with a very lucrative pay. Such firms include The Bank of America, IBM, Accenture, Capgemini among others.
3. Tech Firms
Tech firms such as Microsoft, Apple, Google and Facebook offering centralized services will be the biggest losers if the blockchain storm takes over the world. With the steady growth of decentralized apps, these firms will run out of business as no one will want to use centralized platforms which are open to user exploitation. For fear of being rendered obsolete, these tech firms are moving fast to adopt and integrate the blockchain technology into their systems. These firms are even not investing in continual improvement; instead, they are prioritizing the blockchain technology. They, therefore, require blockchain developers to implement the blockchain technology. One such project aimed at implementing the blockchain technology is Linux’s Hyperledger which aims at providing a smooth transition to the blockchain technology.
While some governments notably China have openly rejected the blockchain technology, many have embraced and have even integrated its use in different sectors. For instance, Britain is looking at managing students loan repayment using blockchain, Estonia has suggested the use blockchain technology to eliminate corruption in its institutions and Venezuela has recently launched its own cryptocurrency known as Petro. These are just some of the examples suggesting the role of national governments in the growth of blockchain technology. Therefore, these government are in need of blockchain developers not only to design and implement the blockchain but also to offer consultancy services on the blockchain technology.
The future for blockchain developers is indeed luminous and it’s pretty much the golden time to become one. While they may be lack of learning institutions offering blockchain technology as a full course, it may just be right time to get the scares available resources and get to learn the skills required to be a blockchain developer. The numerous opportunities along with the handsome salary associated with being a blockchain developer make it a lucrative career.
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