Most time, the import of new inventions is not easily comprehended. The latest of inventions termed revolutionary is the distributed ledger technology or blockchain. One question we are tempted to ask is, “Does blockchain work or is that all hype?”
“I don’t know any good Ethereum developer that isn’t a millionaire — There’s a gold rush among developers to learn the coding language of money” said Luis Cuende the CEO of Aragon.
He is the blockchain developer behind the Ethereum-based governance system which raised $29 million for a short duration programming work for the network.
A Lucrative New Invention Making People Rich
That is how lucrative blockchain skills have become. In this article, you will learn what is happening in the industry and how you can join an join the elite group of in-demand professionals working behind the scene.
Bitcoin is the first application built with the blockchain technology. Since then, there have been a thousand other coins built and billions of dollars made in the digital currency market.
Demand for Blockchain Developers Soars Even As Cryptocurrencies Crash
The coin market has experienced a lull since the beginning of the year. Bitcoin which is the main driver of the market lost more than 60 percent of its value creating a bear market falling below $6000.
This however has not affected the demand for blockchain developers which has continued to soar.
A CNBC report said that the demand for this skill has increased by 400 percent since 2017 despite the adverse market conditions.
Blockchain Engineers Are the Best Paid Developers
With the increased demand for blockchain engineers, the reward attached to the skill has increased immensely. Blockchain engineers now earn between $150000 and $175,000 yearly, which is higher than earnings of other software developers.
Another CNBC report stated that the average salary of software engineers is $135,000. With the increased demand for these professional, their salaries are at par with artificial intelligence (AI) specialists.
This is far more than what is paid other tech specialists. This clear demand for blockchain experts is a direct consequence of the cryptocurrency boom.
According to the CEO of Hired, Mehun Patel said,
“There’s a ton of demand for blockchain. Software engineers are in very short supply, but this is even more acute and that’s why salaries are even higher.”
Global Tech Giants Looking Ahead with Blockchain
Another reason for the spike in the demand for blockchain engineers is the interest of global tech giants in the induatry. Companies such as IBM, Facebook, Microsoft have not made a secret of their desire to hire blockchain engineers.
According to Patel, most of these jobs are simply advertised as backend engineers, system engineers or solution architects but the desired skill specifies that blockchain expertise is what these companies are looking for.
As Cointelegraph reported,
The report further stated that New York, San Francisco Bay area and London have the highest demand for blockchain experts quoting data from the survey of thirteen global cities and over 420,000 interview requests by companies.
There has been a sustained increase in the demand for blockchain experts in Asia as well. This is distinct from the demand for cryptocurrency focused skills that have vacillated over time since it is mainly dependent on the volatility of the market.
Aviks, a commenter at Bitcointalk posted that,
“The percentage of blockchain and crypto related jobs are increasing due to the start ups. Majority of those start ups are running ICOs to fund them and continue with their business only after they are successful. So the study couldn’t capture the entire picture in holistic way.
However, the only great feeling about this news is that the blockchain and crypto related job opportunities are increasing in organized sector as well. Companies like Ernst & Young, BCG and similar companies are recruiting blockchain developers and consultants. Even though there is not much business opportunities available for them at enterprise level, still they are keeping themselves future ready!”
Blockchain is the Future of Business
This supports the premise that many institutional establishments view blockchain as an important part of their future and are getting ready to utilize the opportunities it presents.
Dustin Welden is a software engineer that works with Globys. According to him, the demand for blockchain engineers is such that when he changed his job title from software engineer to principal blockchain engineer, requests for his services spiked.
“When my title became ‘principal blockchain engineer,’ it became relentless. I get interview requests every day on LinkedIn now,” he said.
The genesis of the demand for blockchain engineers was initial coin offerings which saw many enterprises and startup raise millions of dollars in cryptocurrency funds.
This is despite opposition from regulators in large economies such as United States, China and South Korea. Since blockchain is the technology on which digital tokens are built, the high demand for its professionals is not surprising.
Accentuating this is the fact that as a new field, there are not that many yet many experts in it.
A research by a job site, Glassdoor said there has been 300 percent increase in blockchain-related openings. This has been incentivized by the US job boom which has 7.14 million job openings sitll not filled.
What is Blockchain?
As the demand for blockchain engineers increases, there are now many people wanting to have clearer understanding of what blockchain is and what skills are needed to work on it.
Blockchain or distributed ledger is massive electronic recording system that displays transactions made on it. it is like a book of records that is accessible to all to view. This feature makes it unique – an open ledger that is not controlled by any single individual.
Its transparency does not in any way make it vulnerable to alteration. The blockchain is protected by cryptography and a network of nodes ensures that it is secure and un-hackable.
The massive records placed in the electronic ledger are recorded in “blocks’ with each block representing a unique transaction. Each block contains timestamp and transaction data that has been verified to be authentic and true by the network.
Network Concord is Based On Consensus
This is done through a consensus or agreement of the nodes (computers and such devices) that are in charge of running the blockchain network. These nodes interact and agree that the transaction or data is valid and acceptable to all before its block is added to the chain.
In essence, the addition of blocks of the approved data of transaction to other blocks forms a chain of blocks that bears the name blockchain.
Anything of Value Can Be Placed On Blockchain
The first known application for blockchain is Bitcoin. Today, it has a wide range of uses that many industries are still viewing ways of utilizing it. Note that it is not just for financial transactions but for recording any thing that has value.
The main strength of blockchain is its so-called trustlessness. This means that there is no need for third parties in ensuring that parties to a transaction keep their own part of the bargain.
For instance, in traditional banking service, the confidence that the money you sent is based on the honesty and neutrality of the bank, but for blockchain, its consensus based protocol ensures that when you send some digital currencies such as Bitcoin, it is received by the other party.
It will also be evident to all that the funds were sent. In fact, both parties can monitor when the fund was sent and when it was delivered in the receiver’s wallet.
Practical Uses of Blockchain
Blockchain has found application in many fields. Its prospects are not yet fully understood though some of the more common areas it has found use are:
The traditional financial services are known to be slow, cumbersome and requiring third party vendors such as banks or payment processing platform. These add to the cost of use. But with the advent of blockchain, many individuals have taken charge of their finance management. This has led to cheaper and faster transactions.
Many financial services firms have been employing blockchain in smart bond and smart contracts. These are programs that are written to be self-executing when the necessary conditions are met.
For instance, in smart bond, the parties have the convenience of knowing that if a bond is meant to be paid in 12 months, the smart contract pays exactly in 12 months without the need to revisit it. Also, no party would be able to alter the agreement after the blockchain based contract is written.
Some of financial services businesses that have found use in blockchain are:
This has been especially useful in real estate management in which different parties involved in transactions would need to keep their individual copies of the document. As we are aware, this system is slow and prone to risks such as alteration or loss of the document.
With blockchain application, properties and assets can be tokenized and placed on the blockchain. The records are available for all the parties to see.
This saves cost and payment for such properties are easily made even across international barriers quickly and cheaper than using conventional means.
Like in all blockchain transactions, there is no need for intermediaries.
The insurance industry is one that could be fraught with fraud. There are times fraudulent claims are made while at other times the insurers may be unwilling to pay claims due to obfuscated agreements.
This can be overcome using blockchain encrypt every data and document. With an in-built smart contract system the possibility of mistakes and misunderstandings are eliminated.
International payments are known to be very slow. Sometimes, these take days or longer to be cleared. Bank transfers and other commonly used methods of making international payments are expensive. The challenges posed by cross-border payments have been effectively been solved using platforms built on the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) or blockchain.
Services such as Abra and Ripple have made inroad into the international remittance service sometimes integrating seamlessly with some banks with which they have built effective cross-border services.
Blockchain has been used to make properties smart through embeds with codes in a way that only authorized persons with the right keys would be able to access such property. After embedded with codes, such property is placed on the blockchain.
The authorization and management of the property using blockchain minimizes the risk of fraud and eliminated third party involvement saving all parties cost.
For instance, the key of a vehicle can be secured with cryptography and an immobilizer enabled so that only the owner can unlock the immobilizer with the right key.The possibilities are endless with blockchain.
Internet of Things
It has been reported that there would be tens of billions of connected devices in the next few years. Smart devices that connect and communicate or instruct each other is an aspect of blockchain that involves machine learning, big data and Artificial Intelligence.
The impact of Internet of Things (IoT) is that machines can be programmed to interact with humans and other machines. they would be able to execute pre-programmed instructions such as we have in driverless cars.
Platforms such as IOTA are already doing a lot of work in this regard. The network recently signed a partnership with Volkwagon, Audi and Fujitsu, a testament that blockchain application is widespread. There are many other uses that are being discovered.
These are devices that have higher than average service output. A smart device could be programmed to do things that similar devices cannot through embedding of codes that instruct a machine or a human to perform tasks.
Your phone can be coded for instance to alert you when you are due to take your medication. the code can be placed on blockchain with the data of a specific patient to ensure that the instruction is being passed to the right person. The data can be encrypted to protect your privacy.
Procurement and Supply Chain Management
Logistics companies need to keep track of their shipping. This can be accomplished by installing sensors on freights and tracking them to know the location and state of the cargo.
This increases efficiency of the logistic chain because tacking reveals when containers are moving to or from a particular location. It shows if the ship or truck is loaded or empty.
On a blockchain network, the efficiency of the shipping can be increased and cost reduced when a network of logistic and supply chain managers collaborate. There can be full utility of machines and hardware when this collaboration is efficient.
Furthermore, access to shipping documents can be made more effective and accessible when it is coded on blockchain. the transparency and ease of access as well as the elimination of third parties make blockchain utilization desirable in the industry.
Blockchain in Healthcare
The example given earlier on in this article is a clear indication that blockchain finds application in healthcare. In reality, any thing of value can be stored on the blockchain. Aside medication schedule, the medical record of patients can be encrypted and secured with cryptography.
This encrypted record is secured with a key so that only authorized personnel can have access to them. The progress a patient has made during treatment and various data can be secured on the blockchain. This ensures that erasure by mistake is avoided. Also the ease of access eliminates the need to move documents from place to place.
The need for transparency in governance is apparent. This is especially so when there is the need to enhance transparency and efficiency. An abstract from ScienceDirect said:
“Although vast amounts of data have been opened by several levels of government around the world and high hopes continue to be expressed with respect to open data’s potential for innovation, whether open government data (OGD) will live up to expectations is still questioned.”
As a trustless data storage and transmission system, blockchain will open up access to government records while encryption can ensure that abuse is prevented. With need for high integrity data storage, the distributed ledger can be employed to have unalterable trusted data from government agencies.
How to Become A Blockchain Engineer
So you want to become a blockchain engineer and you are wondering how to go about it or what it entails? That’s okay. In this section of the article, we shall look at just that.
With the increasing demand for blockchain engineers, many people are wondering the path to take to make blockchain startups to employ them. If this is your desire, there are two paths you can take to accomplish this.
First, you have to understand that becoming a blockchain engineer is something that is going to demand your time and resources. It will not just happen overnight so naturally, the first thing you should do is get acquainted with the basic terms that you’ve been hearing about associated with blockchain, consensus and mining.
Having done that, you may be interested in the technical aspect of building applications for fintech, this means that you have to learn the economics aspect of cryptocurrencies. This will give you a more rounded understanding and make you a proficient blockchain developer.
The importance of cryptoeconomics cannot be overemphasized since many developers tend to focus on the technical aspect of blockchain or cryptocurrency while overlooking the economic aspect. This is one of the reasons we have many blockchain projects that make technical sense but still not viable economically.
Start by Understanding How Bitcoin Works
Most developers will tell you that the first place to get an overview of what a blockchain is is by studying Bitcoin. Remember that Bitcoin is the first application built on blockchain. This is why every beginner blockchain engineer should start with the Satoshi Whitepaper.
This is the blueprint with which Nakamoto Satoshi, the inventor of Bitcoin presented his ideas of the project to the cryptography community.
Learn How Blockchain Works in Real Life
At this stage, it is important that you learn some of the practical applications of blockchain. To familiarize yourself with it, it is important that you use it. The easiest way of doing this is by signing up in a cryptocurrency exchange such as Binance and Coinbase and purchasing some cryptocurrencies.
Though it is quite simple, it will afford you the opportunity of knowing how a wallet works. The private and public keys used to unlock it and how the system can be improved upon.
Blockchain as a new innovation may well be in its infancy, so there are a lot to be improved upon. Using it will help you gain more insight into how it works and what can be done to improve it.
Read “Mastering Bitcoin: Unlocking Digital Currencies” written by Andreas Antonopoulos. who is an authority in the field of blockchain. You’ll be more grounded with the insight you gain from it.
Do Not Overlook Ethereum
The Ethereum platform is instrumental to the revolution being experienced in the digital currency industry. Most of the initial coin offerings are hosted on the Ethereum platform. These are run using smart contracts.
The right place for a developer to start is in learning the Ethereum client such as Geth and Parity. Also Solidity is the language Ethereum Smart contract is built on. This language is not very different from Java Script. Truffle is another language used in the Ethereum framework, understanding it give you a helping hand in building blockchain applications.
C# and C++ and Cryptography Are Essential in Blockchain Applications
Decentralized applications (dApps) have to parts – the front end which is similar to a website or an app and the back end which is where most of the security and identity coding is done.
Front end development is done using common languages such as HTML, Java and many others. However, even though these same languages can theoretically be used for back end, a good knowledge of cryptography is essential to be a good back end developer. These are usually written in C# and C++.
A good knowledge of these languages is essential in your quest to become a blockchain developer. Ray Dolette, the Senior Design Technologist at Amazon gave some important advise here:
“The code for smart contracts written in Solidity is only a tiny part of the overall codebase for a DApp. The codebase can be written in any other language like Python, Java, or C++. Solidity can be intuitively understood by any developer from first glance as it’s pretty straightforward. So you don’t need to spend too much time learning it to become a successful DApp developer. Your coding skills in other languages are far more important for that job.”
In essence that is how to become a blockchain engineer. However, there are some trainings that are available. A developing field such as blockchain does not yet have many faculties offering it.