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How to start a career in blockchain programming

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Introduction

Since the arrival of cryptocurrencies, blockchain has been gaining a lot of traction in the technology industry and has been disrupting every industry out there. By 2024, the global investment in blockchain solutions is predicted to increase to estimatedly $19 billion from $4.5 billion in 2020. Naturally, not only companies are rushing to integrate blockchain into their systems but employees from various sectors are diving into the field at warp speed. If you are one of those who are interested in blockchain programming and wish to start a career in it, you need to know that while a good grip on the technology is increasingly becoming a vital requirement, it is important that you choose the right blockchain education path so that you utilise your time and money properly. Read on to find out how.

What is blockchain?

“Blockchain” is basically a collection of time-stamped “blocks” consisting of digital information encrypted with a specific hash function and stored in a decentralised ledger shared among a group of computers or “chains”. In blockchain programming, all inbound data is checked by a number of peer-to-peer computers (or “nodes”) before being recorded into the ledger, making it decentralised. A blockchain database is unchangeable, everlasting, and extremely secure thanks to several layers of cryptographic encryption. Furthermore, regardless of the fact that all operations on a blockchain network are completely accessible to the world, it provides perfect confidentiality to network members.

Top careers in blockchain programming

Within just a few years of its advent, blockchain made such a huge difference in the world that it has become the fastest-growing skill in the 21st century, according to a LinkedIn study, and vacancies for blockchain experts are constantly rising. Currently, the most significant employers of blockchain-based skills are big players like the baking and accounting sector, oil and gas sector, insurance, and legal sector who are in the process of integrating blockchain technology in their centralised systems; tech firms shifting to decentralised systems; startups built on blockchain technology; and governments of several countries. For someone trained in the technology, there are a variety of jobs available in both technical and non-technical fields – 

  • Technical roles:

Typically, the ones joining companies for purely technical roles like blockchain (core/ software) developer, blockchain-based website developer (front-end/ back-end/ full-stack), Mobile application developer, and DevOps engineer must be fluent with a range of machine languages like C++, Python, JavaScript; software, databases, and languages specific to their job roles (for instance, PostgreSQL, MySQL databases if you apply for a back-end developer role, AWS services like Fargate, API Gateways, etc if you want a DevOps engineer role, and so on); along with being well-versed in blockchain technology. 

  • Semi-technical roles:

If you are not so much into the hardcore technicalities, you can also apply for semi-technical jobs like UI/UX designer and blockchain solutions architect. For these roles, it is not necessary to know machine languages or difficult programming, but you must be quite knowledgeable about your role-specific software. For example, if you want to be a UI/UX designer, you should have good knowledge about Figma, Sketch, etc.

  • Non-technical roles:

Surprisingly, there is a long list of careers related to blockchain that have very minimal technological involvement. In fact, you can already be working in a field and apply blockchain technology there, simply by taking up good online courses in blockchain and learning it well.

  • Blockchain-based finance: These could be financial advisors, accountants, or other professionals. Because blockchain is transforming the conventional financial sector, the industry needs experts with broad financial understanding to provide a secure environment and regulate operations such as STOs, token listings, and funding, among other things.
  • Blockchain quality analysis: You will be building quality controls for repository implications, software scenarios, regression testing, negative testing, error or defect retests, or functionality tests as part of the QA Team.
  • Blockchain product management: A blockchain product manager needs to have the skills of a regular product manager combined with a thorough knowledge of blockchain as the product, in this case, will be built on blockchain. This person will be in charge of matching blockchain projects with blockchain developers and/or solution architects.
  • Blockchain legal consultancy: Just like any other product, blockchain solutions also require legal consultation for insurance, investments, disputes, contracts, and so on. However, without a thorough understanding of the technology, no wise legal advice is possible.
  • Blockchain marketing, sales, and business development: Although quite a non-technical section, marketers, salespersons, and business development personnel for any company are just like legal help – an essential part of the growth of any business, and they definitely need to know their blockchain products well.

How can you start your career in blockchain programming?

If you weren’t completely aware of how blockchain education can transmute your entire career, you must have a good understanding now. So if you’re determined to become a Blockchain Technology expert, here is how you should go about it:

  • Join blockchain technology courses and understand the fundamentals of it:

While blockchain is a rapidly booming sector, the reason it is so high in demand in the world right now is because of its unique technological features. Therefore, it is almost obvious that without a thorough blockchain education, you won’t get very far in the sector. University education in computer engineering, computer science, information technology, etc. which includes blockchain technology courses or blockchain certifications, is always an advantage, however, it is not an ultimate necessity. There are many online courses in blockchain or individual courses with blockchain certifications that are just as good, if not better. Here are the critical areas you should be educated on before starting a career in blockchain technology:

  • Blockchain terminologies: Start with a basic understanding of the technology by taking up a blockchain course for beginners where you will get a clear picture of decentralisation, smart contracts, blockchain privacy, mining, and more. You should be especially fluent in blockchain terminologies before moving up.
  • Data structures: The data structure is an integral part of this complex technology. If you wish to be a blockchain developer, it is extremely important to understand data structures like linked lists, graphs, hash maps, search trees, etc. 
  • Programming languages: Learn important programming languages like C, C++, Java, Python so that you understand data structures better. You will also need to learn Javascript which will help you in web development and Solidity or similar programming language to create smart contracts.
  • Cryptography: Half of the blockchain programming goes into ensuring the security of the database, and cryptography is the key to that. This skill will be essential even if you want to get into the managerial section instead of the technical one.
  • Blockchain platforms: In Blockchain, there are numerous frameworks, and knowing them all can be confusing. So you will need to learn how to pick a situation-appropriate platform. In a blockchain course for beginners, you should look to learn about R3 Corda, Ripple, Ethereum, and Hyperledger Fabric which are some of the most commonly used platforms and can be used in the majority of occasions.
  • Learn about distributed computing and consensus mechanisms:

As mentioned earlier, blockchain is a distributed ledger that works in a peer-to-peer system. So an in-depth knowledge of these two areas is absolutely essential for a student of blockchain. Also, you need to have a good understanding of the different consensus mechanisms, especially the most commonly used Byzantine fault-tolerant consensus if you want to get ahead in your blockchain career. 

On top of these, there is another concept that you must keep in mind while studying blockchain programming that sometimes a blockchain course for beginners or even some blockchain certifications may overlook – the current flaws in the blockchain security system. For instance, blockchain technology is still burdened by some scalability issues and exorbitant amounts of energy consumption. Learning about the why’s and how’s of these might lead you towards a team working on solving them, giving you a headstart in your career.

  • Learn about cryptonomics:

Even though blockchain is not all about cryptocurrencies, they are a crucial and widely used application of this technology. The worth of cryptocurrencies is influenced by currency valuation and a variety of fiscal measures. Hence, an understanding of both cryptography and economics separately and how economic structures workaround cryptocurrencies will take you high up the blockchain career ladder. You can acquire an additional understanding of game theory to understand the business areas even better.

  • Learn how to drive business outcomes using blockchain programming:

It goes without saying that every company focuses more on driving profits and so the hiring committee will always give preference to people who can utilise a technology to increase the company profits. Unfortunately, not all traditional blockchain technology courses may cover that area. So it is recommended that you find online courses in blockchain business along with technical studies, no matter which blockchain programming career you choose.

  • Take part in blockchain events and conferences:

While blockchain technology courses give you an understanding of the technical parts, in order to learn about the market, it is important to attend events and conferences organised by various universities as well as industries. While university workshops and seminars help you learn about the latest research areas and their ongoing use cases, commercial events and conferences allow you to meet the leading personalities and experts from the industry. These not only offer you exposure to the real potential of blockchain technology beyond books and tutorials but also help you with networking opportunities that you won’t get any other way.

  • Network in the blockchain community:

This may sound like a cliché, but networking and referrals are still some of the most effective methods of procuring a job of your choice as well as career development. Needless to say, you will find no theoretical blockchain technology courses for this, you will have to get down to the field. Join blockchain communities and discussion forums to gain continuous information about the ongoing developments in the field and find interesting small or medium-sized freelance projects that can build your resume.

To Conclude…

It goes without saying that you must choose a particular career path in blockchain and work towards it because no matter what field you work in, in-depth expertise always pays off. Find some reputed and reliable blockchain courses for beginners and start at the bottom if you need. With exhaustive knowledge and hard work, you will climb up the ladder of success swiftly and soon enough.

Ralph Kalsi

Founder and CEO, Blockchain Australia ™

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