Is Blockchain a Good Career choice?
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 experts have their choice of career options to choose from, provided they have the necessary expertise. Eventually, the attractiveness of a career in Blockchain boils down tot he following points:
- Future Prospects – Blockchain is an up and coming technology with widescale application in finance, governance, medicine, law, retail, and pretty much every industry you can think of. The potential is enormous and you can get in on the ground floor still.
- Compensation – Salaries are based on demand from jobs and supply of talent. Good Blockchain developers are still in short supply and you can expect $100,000 or more as a blockchain engineer. This obviously grows with seniority.
- Work-Life Balance – This site focuses a lot on finance careers and the work-life balance of tech careers is obviously far superior. You get a lot more opportunities to work from home, the workforce is usually younger and the environment is more entrepreneurial.
How to start your Blockchain Career?
The first step is to obtain the relevant expertise. There are a number of courses and formal certifications that will help you with that which I have reviewed in some detail at the following link. You can read detailed reviews of these courses here and pick one that best suits your needs:
Once you have acquired the relevant skills, you can start looking at which career appeals to you most. This depends on your aptitude, skillset, prior experience and local job opportunities. Not everyone has to be a coder – you can be a blockchain consultant, tester, market researcher, blockchain product designer or any number of such related roles. Take your pick from the list below.
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 from 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 qualifications 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 bringing 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 from 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:
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.
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 knowledge base, 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 from governments and the private sector alike. With all this funding, comes the opportunity for new research.
Some of the blockchain researchers that I have come across even had PhDs in economics or finance. That should give you an idea of the kind of interest this field is generating amongst the best minds of the world.
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.
15. Other Blockchain Careers
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.