Careers in Blockchain

In FinTech by Gaurav SharmaUpdated On:

Blockchain is usually associated with cryptocurrencies but it is much more than that. Blockchain is a fundamental technology like the internet, while cryptocurrencies are just one-use case sort of like how emails are an application built upon the fundamental internet backbone. This means that the potential for careers in blockchain is enormous and we are already seeing heavy development in blockchain tech by massive corporations and start-ups alike.

This interest in blockchain by BigTech giants, large Banks and small startups means that blockchain exports have their choice of career options to choose from, provided they have the necessary expertise.

The following article lists the best blockchain certifications and courses to help you gain that expertise:

Best Blockchain Courses/ CertificationsLearn More
1. Blockchain Developer Nanodegree from UdacityPreview/ Enroll Now
2. Blockchain Revolution in Financial Services from INSEADPreview/ Enroll Now
3. Online Degree in Blockchain from Blockchain CouncilPreview/ Enroll Now
4. Professional Certificate in Blockchain Fundamentals from BerkeleyPreview/ Enroll Now
5. Certified Blockchain Developer from Blockchain CouncilPreview/ Enroll Now

You can read detailed reviews here:

Best Blockchain Certifications ranked by Bankers (2020)

Once you have acquired the relevant skills, here is just a sampling of the career options available to you.

1. Blockchain Engineer/ Developer

Blockchain developers top this list because they really are at the forefront of what makes blockchain possible for use by businesses and retail users around the world. They also form the largest group with the most job openings.

That does not mean though that all blockchain development jobs are all the same. For example, someone working on blockchain for an investment management firm would need an understanding of financial markets in addition to blockchain development. While someone working on a blockchain solution for a sports website would need a radically different set of skills. Which is just a way of saying that sector experience matters as well, just like in normal development jobs.

Salaries will differ based on your sector choice and skill as well. Some blockchain developers in Silicon Valley easily make north of $150,000 a year at the very start of their careers. Its all about having the right skills and knowing what is in demand.

2. Blockchain Legal Consultant

When I was a banker, I used to find going through government regulations and legal agreements a chore. But I also realised being an expert on such things is perhaps one of the most lucrative career opportunities. The thing is that there are very few experts when it comes to regulations and for blockchain related regulation in particular, the field is almost completely empty outside of a few very expensive law firms.

What does that mean? It means a unique and rewarding career opportunity for those willing to seize it. You will obviously have to develop the expertise and equalisations necessary, but you will have some insanely lucrative consulting opportunities once you do.

3. Blockchain Business Consultant/ Advisor

Blockchain consultant or advisory is a more general consulting role where you focus on all aspects of how to implement a blockchain solution, what benefits will it provide, what are the potential drawbacks and risks, how to mitigate those risks, how to budget the whole thing, how to design business processes around it, how to train employees, how to manage stakeholders, how to market it and so on.

Being a consultant is essentially like being a business owner and helping solve any and all problems that the company faces. Of course, you can specialise in something specific. For example, you can specialise only in legal; consulting regarding blockchain or security consulting regarding blockchain and I have covered those separately here.

4. Blockchain Product Designer

Product design is one of the first and most crucial steps of brining a product to market. It requires a deep understanding of the what the customer needs and how to make that happen using the tools at your disposal. This is why blockchain product designers are expected to be the foremost authorities in their field and able to imagine products into existence using their creativity and expertise.

Product design is an iterative process and once everything is in place, the development team takes over. Feedback form the dev team or end-users might then prompt further improvement and newer versions.

Here’s an example of a product strategy job (Blockchain – VP) at JP Morgan:

“Coin and Clearing Networks (CCN) is a newly established product line at J.P. Morgan Chase and Co. The product line is a part of the Wholesale Payments business unit. We are a global team of product designers, technologists, and innovators, joined together by a passion for transforming the way payments are done. We are tasked with providing our clients with new age cash management and payment products. As a Vice President you will assist with the product strategy focusing on the next generation coin and clearing infrastructure built on blockchain.”

5. Blockchain Digital Transformation/ Change Management

As companies are transitioning towards new technologies, there is an increasing demand for digital transformation experts. I myself have consulted several clients on their digital transformation journeys. Its about designing new processes around tech tools, formulating policies and best practices to use them and training employees to use them effectively.

Blockchain digital transformation is similar but with a focus on adopting blockchain technologies for use in business processes.

6. Blockchain Supply Chain Expert

Supply Chain is one of the main use cases for blockchain. Blockchain technology is inherently well suited for providing a chain of digital proofs for movement of goods and capital and thus it is useful for managing corporate supply chains.

Blockchain supply chain experts provide companies with the expertise to properly utilize blockchain for managing their supply chain better and more economically.

Here is an example of an opening at Microsoft:

“We are looking for a passionate, high energy and capable individual who has expertise in digital transformation for supply chain, especially in blockchain.  An ideal candidate will lead hand-picked team members, cross function stakeholders, and suppliers to define and launch blockchain supply chain use cases. A great opportunity to influence the future technology used to power the Microsoft Cloud!

The role serves as a people manager in Cloud Supply Chain organization with key focus areas:

  • Program management of digital transformation for supply chain (33%)
  • Define new supply chain processes with stakeholders for new technologies (33%)
  • Supplier management (software system integrator, external consultancy) (33%)

Meanwhile, s/he needs to provide thought leadership and drive strategic initiatives with internal stakeholders and suppliers to support cloud supply chain overall objectives and strategies.”

7. Blockchain Project Manager

Project Managers are highly experienced professionals who have handled several development and launch cycles in the past. They are essentially leaders who guide others on how to go about the task of designing, launching and improving a product or service.

For blockchain specifically, these project managers are really at the forefront of innovation since there are not a lot of old projects to take inspiration from. The challenges they are faced with are unique and have no standardized solutions. This is what makes them so much more in-demand compared to project managers in other sectors.

8. Blockchain Journalist/ Writer

The worlds top journalists today specialise in just one area in order to maximize their expertise. Its not just journalists though, someone has to write the product descriptions, the customer service manual, the technical spec sheets, the knowledgebase, the marketing collateral, the blog on the website, sales copy and everything else.

This is what makes writers with experience in blockchain so valuable. All of this stuff needs to be written even before the product is launched. And companies are willing to pay good writers who can generate hype and interest from the user base of investors.

9. Blockchain Social Media Manager

This is a sort of extension of the previous role. Social media managers do the same thing as blockchain writers and journalists but on social media. It requires a slightly different skillset, but the end goal is the same. To generate hype and interest around whatever blockchain product and service your company has launched and drive traffic to the website of app store.

10. Blockchain Financial Crime Investigator

Whenever there is substantial capital involved, there is bound to be financial crime. It doesn’t matter how secure your blockchain is, there are still vulnerabilities at the end points where it meets the normal world. Some of the bigger cryptocurrency firms are already facing issues and hiring financial crime investigators who specialise in blockchain.

This is a hybrid role between blockchain and fraud risk/ investigative analysis.

11. Blockchain Due Diligence

Due diligence is permed on all clients before on-boarding them or initiating a relationship with any vendors or other partners. For blockchain, you need professionals with specialised skills to perform his role.

12. Blockchain Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity has been cited as the one of the top three threats to their companies by CEOs around the world. This is not surprising considering the massive amounts of reputational and financial loss that a cyber breach can have for company. Just look at the scale of recent hacks targeting social media companies, financial institutions and even central banks!

As more companies embrace blockchain, there is a growing demand for blockchain cybersecurity specialists to provide adequate protection to these systems. Such roles are a hybrid between traditional cybersecurity and blockchain roles and require a very deep understand of both to be successful.

13. Blockchain Research

Corporations have been pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Blockchain research. Blockchain started as a community driven project, but it is now well funded with interest form governments and the private sector alike. With all this funding, comes the opportunity for new research.

Look at the following job description from Facebook for example. It should give you an idea of the type of advanced research that companies are doing and what kind of experts are needed. This particular job opening was looking for PhDs in economics or finance.

The Novi economics team is seeking exceptional candidates from a market design or macroeconomics background to join our team. Individuals in this role are expected to have deep expertise and the ability to leverage economic theory into real-world, practical solutions for blockchain based problems. Depending on background, economists in this role will initiate and execute projects around topics such as auction design, economic incentives in consensus protocols, market concentration, and macroeconomic aspects of the Libra currency. Candidates should demonstrate a strong research background and the ability to disseminate findings clearly and succinctly. This job will involve both foundational product work and academic research centered around the Novi digital wallet and the Libra currency.”

14. Blockchain Market Research

Market research is required before a product can be launched  or even conceptualized. It is also required once the product has been launched in order to determine its success and potential improvements. With proper market research, any product is bound to fail. You will not even know who your target audience is and what they actually need.

Market research of today is highly data driven so what you need is a mix between blockchain experts and data science experts who can deliver the results that are needed for a successful product.

Best Blockchain Certifications ranked by Bankers (2020)

15. Others

There are plenty of other career opportunities in blockchain, but I hope I have given you general idea by listing the top options. While some of the roles are unique to blockchain, others are just a hybrid which require blockchain expertise in combination with some other core skillset.

The fact is that in order to maximise your career potential, you will have to specialise in more than one field. Specialists always get paid more than generalists.

About the Author

Gaurav Sharma

Gaurav started his career as a Corporate and Investment Banking intern at Citi in 2009 and eventually ended up as an Associate Director at Standard Chartered Bank’s Wholesale Banking division a few years later. By 2016, Gaurav was consulting FinTech start-ups in London with product development in the institutional banking space. He also advises mid-market Private Equity/ Asset Management firms and Banks in North America and Europe with investments in the financial services and FinTech sector. Gaurav writes on topics ranging from European Union banking regulations and FinTech to Blockchain startups and the inevitable rise of our AI overlords! He has an Engineering degree in Computer Science and an MBA with a double major in Finance and Marketing. He is also a Certified Financial Risk Manager.