How to Become a Blockchain Developer: Top 8 Skills for a Newcomer in the Field

Software development

Blockchain developers are programmers who deal with the creation of blockchain applications. They manage the entire life cycle of a blockchain application, meaning they will be responsible for the research and execution of the application. They create the whole blockchain system architecture, compose smart contracts and optimize protocols.

Why become a blockchain developer?

Our world is changing at a rate comparable only to the times of the industrial revolution. In the 19th century, supporters of manual labor lost out to competitors who were not afraid to adopt the technology. Soon, assembly lines became the norm, automating production that humans had done by hand for thousands of years.

Today we see the same thing, only this time the human is replaced by artificial intelligence and blockchain technology. And it happens much faster and on a larger scale. The time will soon come when automated computer systems will replace most workers.

Computer skills, especially programming, will be critical to building a career in the coming years. Of course, there will be other career ladders, but computer experts will be helpful in most industries, which is obvious. Anyone lacking these skills will be in a losing position in the job market.

It is also worth noting how communication technology and the power of decentralization have helped many entrepreneurs worldwide create their businesses and make transactions without any unnecessary agreements. Before the Internet, this was hard to imagine. Over time, this becomes a trend.

In addition to the benefits listed above, there are others.

The use of blockchain technology nowadays is increasing in almost all areas of activity. A blockchain developer can be roughly compared to a website developer. Any organization – educational, financial, supply chain, entertainment, or media – needs its website, but its internal specialists often do not have the necessary competency. The situation with blockchain implementation is very similar. Applications of this technology can pay dividends in almost any industry, and at some point, any company will need a specialist or team of specialists to help implement the technology.

On LinkedIn and UpWork, the demand for jobs in one way or another related to cryptocurrencies has increased tremendously in recent years. These jobs are now more than ten times more likely to be sought after than in 2014. According to Computer World, the average salary for a blockchain developer in Silicon Valley is $158,000 annually.

The blockchain industry itself, according to experts, 2025 will have a capitalization of several hundred billion dollars. This is a rough assumption, given that we do not know how states and international institutions will behave regarding the blockchain. However, this technology will undoubtedly change many industries and business processes.

Don’t go into this space thinking that cryptocurrencies are the only application of blockchain that deserves attention. Do not discount decentralized applications and distributed accounting technologies. This area is so young that even the study of the fundamental principles of the protocol is not yet fully completed. We ignore the lion’s share of the technology’s potential by focusing on cryptocurrencies.

What can a blockchain developer do?

There are several development paths for a blockchain developer.

The core developers focus on the fundamental principles of technology and protocols – the core of the blockchain. Blockchain developers are working on software integration and decentralization. The difference may seem insignificant for someone not so deeply immersed in the topic, but this is a delusion.

We have already mentioned many opportunities to work on public and private blockchains. The former may seem more familiar: ICOs and public services are associated with them.

STEEM, ICON, and Ethereum are examples of public blockchains. Private blockchains are created for the needs of specific companies. For example, Barclays wants to provide itself with its blockchain and is engaged in several types of research in this area. The company’s specialists are experimenting a lot, trying to find out what will be most beneficial for the end user.

Specialization of the blockchain developers

A blockchain developer works with decentralized services and cryptographic tools and writes intelligent contracts based on the blockchain. There are several professions:

  1. development and control of smart contracts
  2. development of decentralized services
  3. development of server solutions and new networks using Blockchain protocols

Specialization depends on the developer’s skills, interests, and goals:

  1. Architect (Core Blockchain Developer) – builds architecture, selects system design methods, and creates consensus protocol designs.
  2. Software developer (Blockchain Software Developer) – uses the created architecture and protocols to develop specific software.
  3. Brilliant contract engineer – audits and develops smart contracts, helps to embed smart contracts into application and business logic.
  4. “White hacker” — analyzes business flows and security, identifies vulnerabilities in protocols and intelligent contracts, and conducts end-to-end testing of business processes.

Also, due to the industry’s novelty, each developer is still a bit of a business analyst since he has to interact with product owners or users of the system to draw up the correct task of the implemented blockchain solution.

Top 8 Skills for a Newcomer in the Field

Mathematics

Encryption is based heavily on number theory and abstract algebra. The same knowledge will be helpful in asymmetric cryptography (with a public key) for symmetric – a combination of probability theory and modular arithmetic. For cryptographic protocols, you will need – logical thinking and knowledge of the properties of primitives (low-level algorithms).

Programming languages

The developer must know at least one programming language. To become a blockchain developer, one language will not be enough. We will consider some of the most commonly used in this sphere:

  1. Java – Java is a universal and, as a result, popular programming language. Core team developers use them to build high-performance clients and tools in the corporate and financial sectors. IOTA, NEM, Hyperledger Fabric, and NEO are written on it. Java is relatively easy to learn, but the language allows you to develop many complex solutions. The popular NEM cryptocurrency is based on Java.
  2. C++ – C++ is a general-purpose, object-oriented language. It can be used to solve many blockchain-related problems. Satoshi Nakamoto used (this pseudonym maybe is a group of people) C ++ to create the core of Bitcoin, which can be considered one of the primary languages for blockchain development. C++ is also used by Ethereum, Ripple, Monero, EOS, Stellar, and QTUM platforms. Allows you to use ready-made libraries and cryptography at the most secure level. Provides performance, memory efficiency, and complete control.
  3. Python – Python is the second most popular programming language. Relatively easy to learn. It is recommended for blockchain to be used in IoT (Internet of Things). This language is universal, and various libraries allow you to use it to create an interface and for internal development.
  4. Go (GoLang) – Go (GoLang) is an open source, compiled C-based multi-threaded programming language developed by Google in an attempt to create a replacement for C/C++. Provides simultaneous operation of different processes. Fast, easy to maintain, and efficient. It is effective for distributed systems as it can simultaneously process multiple parts of the blockchain. They are used in Ethereum, Dero, Hyperledger Fabric, and GoChain.
  5. Solidity – Solidity is a JavaScript-like object-oriented language for developing smart contracts. It is cross-platform, but in practice, it is used mainly on Ethereum. In addition, it is one of the four languages ​​for the EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine).
  6. Rust – Rust is a multi-paradigm artificial language that provides performance and security, particularly concurrency security. Syntactically similar to C++ but with more stringent formal verifications and protection from being shot in the foot. It can be either a language for writing a blockchain node or a system client or a language for smart contracts (the long-awaited Cardano contracts).

Cryptography and Cryptonomics

Cryptography is the basis of blockchain projects. Provides encryption, message integrity, block ciphers, and hash functions. This also includes knowledge of RSA (Rivest – Shamir – Adleman) and ECDSA (elliptic curve cryptography).

In the field of blockchain, cryptography is applied in the form of protocols that do not allow unauthorized access to data. For example, public key encryption can provide the basis for crypto-based financial transactions.

Cryptonomics is the economics of a crypto company. There is no banking system and the Central Bank, which would explain where the sector is moving. Therefore, you will have to understand asset valuation, monetary policy, and game theory independently.

Smart contracts

Smart contracts enable transactions for goods or services without the need for intermediaries. They are executed only if the parties comply with the terms of the contract. The effectiveness of smart contracts is primarily due to the decentralized nature of the blockchain.

Smart contracts are used in construction, law, and other sectors of the economy.

Data Structures

A blockchain network is made up of data structures, and in the most general sense, a block is also a data structure. It clusters transactions for a public ledger, a blockchain.

Data structures are essential to a blockchain developer because they help understand a block’s underlying functionality.

Blockchain architecture

Architecture is the fundamental concept of the blockchain. The developer should be fluent in three types of it:

  1. The private blockchain architecture is suitable for use cases with a limited number of participants and is a popular choice for businesses.
  2. The architecture of the consortium is not entirely decentralized. The members of the group consisting of several organizations have full power here.
  3. The architecture of the public blockchain is characterized by a high level of decentralization, which allows you to participate in the network through transactions or mining. The most famous example of such an architecture is Bitcoin.

Web development

In most cases, a blockchain programmer will develop web applications. He will also need to learn web design and other tools to create quality dApps.

Customers demand blockchain developers to create applications that even people with minimal blockchain knowledge can easily use.

Network Protocols

It is an established set of rules governing data transfer between different devices on the same network. They allow connected devices to communicate, regardless of internal processes, structure, and design differences. Understanding how distributed registries, peer-to-peer networks, topologies, and routing is essential.

Blockchain protocols allow network nodes to exchange information securely over the Internet. There are hundreds of protocols, so studying them will require considerable time. Here are the five main protocols that are relevant at the moment:

  1. Hyper ledger
  2. Multichain
  3. Enterprise Ethereum
  4. Corda
  5. Quorum

How to get a job?

To begin with, you must be sure that you have mastered the basic set of skills. Regardless of the requirements for the developer, everyone should have a base.

Then two main paths open before you: as a developer or as a consultant.

On the technical path, you will become a software developer – the person who will program smart contracts, decentralized applications, and blockchain code. This will require all the skills that we mentioned earlier. By the way, knowledge of JavaScript will be beneficial since Solidity strongly resembles it; it will be easier for you to get started with Ethereum.

Newcomers to the field are accepted quite quickly. Still, a developer with years of experience and experience in drafting smart contracts will no doubt be more welcome than a completely green youth. However, this should not scare off newbies: even the most seasoned programmers were once just as green. Learning and actual programming is the key to success.

Online recruitment platforms are seeing a marked increase in the demand for and supply of crypto-related jobs. More and more resumes of blockchain developers appear on LinkedIn and Upwork. Why don’t you add your own? In search of vacancies, you can go to AngelList or Blocktribe, where many requests for blockchain developers are posted. In addition, Ripple is currently looking for specialists.

Thanks to the solidarity of the developer community, you can gain experience as a volunteer. Many projects are happy with an extra pair of hands, as long as the right skill level is attached to them. Read about projects of interest on Reddit, Telegram, Slack, and Discord, and send tweets to team members. And, of course, do not forget to look at their sites: many post vacancies there.

As in any other field, networking is an integral part of career development in blockchain development. If you want to make a career as a blockchain developer, good networking can do some of the work for you. Adopt the experience of more advanced developers, listen to their advice, prove yourself a good specialist – and, perhaps, you will be invited to a new vacancy.

How much do blockchain developers earn on average?

The rapid growth in the number of projects requiring blockchain has created a shortage of personnel, which, in turn, has affected candidates’ salary expectations.

According to iTechArt experts, it is impossible to determine a single hourly rate for a blockchain developer – it all depends on the complexity and urgency of the project. Be that as it may, according to Glassdoor, you can roughly understand the market conditions at different ends of the globe. The median salary of specialists in the US is about $92,000 per year, in the UK – almost 51,000 pounds, and in Europe – about 49,000 euros, respectively.

Who is not suitable for the position of blockchain developer?

Those who decide to develop in this area must constantly face the requirements for new networks, protocols, and libraries. Projects come with varying complexity, from writing simple auxiliary smart contacts to implementing a full-fledged online exchange with cold wallets and virtual transactions. As in IT, you need to quickly adapt to tasks and not be afraid to parse new material.

It is worth considering a different path for those who do not like to experiment, look for mistakes, and quickly switch from one task to another. Success in the blockchain directly depends on whether the developer is ready to try something new and be an active member of the open source community.

You can also say that there are no juniors in this area: the blockchain does not tolerate those who do not have a fundamental knowledge of programming. In any company whose clients need a distributed database, a programmer will be considered for a project only if they have experience in commercial development, knowledge of essential certificates and blockchain standards, and confident knowledge of one or more programming languages.

Conclusion

Now is the time to plunge into the blockchain world and become a true insider. Every member of this young field is still learning the technology, and the chances of becoming one of the pioneers are pretty high.

Blockchain developers often solve complex problems related to applications and blockchains. The need for such specialists in the labor market is constantly growing, but it isn’t easy to acquire the necessary knowledge on your own. Confidently solving problems in the field of blockchain will also require practical skills, which it is almost impossible for a beginner to acquire without participating in real projects.