How to Pursue a Career in Blockchain Development?
Blockchain is on the verge of revolutionizing how the world handles information, with benefits including decentralization, automation, lower costs, greater participation and more efficiency being just some of the benefits it will bring. Blockchain was first created to support Bitcoin, but has since shown that its versatility and security can be beneficial in just about any type of industry.
It’s no surprise that the world is crying out for more blockchain developers to build the next generation of decentralized applications. By specializing in a dynamic new technology that will change the world, developers can create a range of exciting opportunities for themselves and create the rewarding careers they deserve.
If the prospect of becoming a blockchain developer seems enticing, read on to learn how to get started.
Before you can start on your newly chosen career path, you need to understand what it is you are going to do, and the first step is knowing what blockchain actually does. Blockchain is actually just a special type of database used to store information.
However, it differs from a traditional database, which stores information in rows and columns. Instead, blockchains store data in “blocks” or clusters of information that have limited storage capacity.
When the block is full, it closes and starts a new block that is linked to all the previous ones. These blocks are linked together using cryptography, and they are stored on hundreds or even thousands of separate nodes, or servers, which may be spread around the world.
In this way, blockchains can be considered a distributed database and they are also completely immutable, meaning that the information stored on them cannot be changed. Because there are so many separate and independent copies of the same data, if one node decides to change the data it stores, all the other nodes will notice and reject this change.
In this way, blockchains can be maintained in a decentralized manner. It is different from a traditional database, which is managed by a centralized authority.
Blockchain developers are the people tasked with designing, building, and maintaining blockchains and the applications and systems they run. One of the most important tasks for blockchain developers is to create so-called smart contracts, which are used by blockchain-based applications to automate actions.
Smart contracts are the basis for decentralized finance, which is an alternative financial ecosystem to traditional banks that, among other things, conduct lending, borrowing and asset trading.
Smart contracts are similar to traditional ones, but instead of being enforced by a central authority like the government, they rely on computer code. So when certain pre-defined conditions are met, the smart contract will automatically trigger an action, without any intermediary.
The role of blockchain developers
The actual work performed by a blockchain developer falls into two different categories. On the one hand, they may be concerned with developing the blockchain system itself. These core blockchain developers are responsible for developing and maintaining a blockchain’s architecture, designing protocols and security mechanisms, and ensuring that the network runs properly.
We also have blockchain application developers who design and build apps that run on top of blockchain networks. They are responsible for both the front-end and back-end design of their apps, how they look and function, and also the maintenance of those apps.
Why Become a Blockchain Developer?
People choose to become blockchain developers for many reasons, but most would agree that enthusiasm for coding and building software is a must-have. There are also some great benefits to be had. Firstly, those who succeed in the role will certainly have no problems finding work.
Demand for blockchain developers is expected to remain high for years to come because it is such a disruptive new technology. Currently, job opportunities are widespread, and if anything, there will soon be even greater demand. A recent study by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that a 22% growth in the number of blockchain development jobs is expected between 2020 and 2030.
Because blockchain development skills are in demand, those who have them can command a lot of money. According to job website Glassdoor, blockchain developers earned an average salary of $119,780 per year in 2021.
How to become a blockchain developer
The very first step is learning to code. Only when you have basic knowledge of software development and programming, you can start specializing in blockchain development.
In terms of academic background, many blockchain developers start with a degree in information technology or computer science, although it is equally possible for self-taught programmers to specialize in blockchain.
Once you know how to code, you need to familiarize yourself with the basics of blockchain. You need to know not only what blockchain is, but also exactly how it works. Fortunately, there are many introductory courses available online where you can learn about the basics of blockchain.
Essential Skills for Blockchain Developers
Every blockchain developer needs to learn a basic skill set to achieve competence in this area.
Once you are competent in basic programming, the very first step will be to expand your knowledge by learning the most used programming languages in blockchain development. A good place to start is Python, which is widely used because it is one of the most versatile coding languages out there. You’ll probably also want to teach yourself how Solidity works, as this is the smart contract programming language used by Ethereum and many other blockchains.
Another key skill to master is cryptography. This is a key element of any blockchain and is what is used to protect sensitive data stored on the network and ensure that it cannot be hacked. Cryptography secures information by ensuring that it is only accessible to authorized parties.
You also need to learn how to create smart contracts, which are the basic software programs that enable decentralized applications.
Other useful skills include data structures. Blockchain developers must be able to work with and implement multiple data structures to build more complex applications. Finally, you also need a solid grounding in blockchain architectures. There are several different architectures used to build blockchains today, including public networks, private networks, consortium-based networks, and hybrid networks.
Specialization in Blockchain Development
Learning the basics of blockchain will set you on the right path, but to enjoy a truly distinguished career, it will pay to specialize in a specific subset of blockchain development.
One of the most promising career paths for blockchain developers is DeFi, and within that segment, one of the most interesting recent developments is asset-oriented DeFi. Most blockchain developers today are familiar with Solidity and its smart contracts and know only too well about their major shortcomings.
Traditional DeFi based on Ethereum is incredibly complex and full of vulnerabilities. To remedy this, Radix has created an asset-oriented approach to DeFi that introduces the concept of reusable components and blueprints. With Radix, developers can essentially build DeFi apps using “lego blocks,” and assemble various components, similar to smart contracts, to create the functionality they need.
The simplicity of the Radix Engine is likely to create high demand for blockchain developers familiar with Scrypto, the Rust-based programming language of Radix. Scrypto is important as it allows developers to use Rust-style logic to interact with digital assets on the platform, facilitating smart contract development. With Scrypto, it is possible to create DeFi apps that follow a natural thought pattern of how smart contract code actually works. It’s a more intuitive process that results in faster development and more reliable apps. For this reason, developers who specialize in Scrypto will likely be amply rewarded for their efforts as DeFi takes over the world.
Of course, there are many other areas of focus that developers can choose, such as GameFi, which concerns video games built on the blockchain, or NFTs, which are unique digital assets whose ownership can be registered on public networks.
A bright future
You can study blockchain development through countless online courses, blogs, and YouTube videos, but there’s no better way to really get the hang of it than to put those skills into practice. What that means is training on the job, working on real projects that are currently crying out for skilled blockchain developers.
Once you know the basics of blockchain, finding the first position should be a piece of cake because the demand for such skills is sky high. A good starting point is to join communities on sites like StackExchange, GitHub, Reddit and Medium.
The blockchain industry is one that has only just started, and as it slowly matures, there will be countless opportunities for developers to advance their careers and earn higher salaries. As long as you know your craft well and specialize, the future will be bright.