How to Become a Blockchain Developer

Blockchain at its most basic level is a decentralized digital ledger capable of recording transactions. As the record-keeping technology primarily associated with bitcoin, it has the ability to serve as a tracking mechanism for literally any form of digital transaction, from medical record data to land title searches to cargo shipping information.

If you’re looking at how to become a blockchain developer, this guide is for you. It examines the steps to becoming a blockchain developer, education requirements, salary information and more.

Why Study Blockchain Technology?

The term “blockchain” essentially refers to blocks of digital information stored in a public database known as “the chain.” As a system it is considered to be immutable or “append-only,” meaning that only new information can be added to it. Once the information has been recorded and sealed on a digital block, it cannot be changed or altered.

Given their decentralized nature, blockchains are therefore consensus-driven. This means any additions to the ledger require the approval of the entire global network. The approval process occurs through the solving of mathematical proofs shared with the rest of the decentralized network. Blockchain transactions can be published and made public. And the network is resistant to any sort of centralized attack. This makes them extremely difficult to hack.

Due to its promise solving problems, blockchain has emerged as an important area of study for working professionals in business. Its rapid adoption in fields such as medical recordsbanking and real estate has created a demand for skilled blockchain developers.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Blockchain Developer?

First let’s examine what a blockchain developer is.

In short, it is a developer charged with establishing and maximizing blockchain-based protocols, whether it be its architecture, smart contracts or web apps, to name a few. The length of time it takes to become a blockchain developer is largely predicated on which educational option you choose to pursue and your current background.

For example, are you an IT professional or beginner? And are you seeking a formal degree or certificate program or wanting to go the apprentice route?

There are essentially two categories of blockchain developers

The first type, known as “core” blockchain developers, focuses on blockchain architecture development. This includes how protocols such as those for consensus and security should be designed as well as other development activities tied to blockchain technology. 

The second type, blockchain software developers, use the architecture and protocols designed by core blockchain developers to create decentralized applications (or dApps) for blockchain technology systems. They function in a manner akin to how a traditional web developer uses protocols and design structures established by a core web architect. 

Blockchain Educational Requirements

Those interested in pursuing a career as a blockchain developer should have a basic knowledge of information technology, data security and computer science. An understanding of distributed systems, networking, cryptography and data structures would be a plus. 

Given that blockchain development relies on the fundamentals of computer science, it can be helpful to also be comfortable with program languages such as Python and C ++ l. A background in web development is also useful along with comfort with protocols like HTML, CSS, NodeJS, and MongoDB.

While a bachelor’s degree in computer science or information security can help equip you with the background knowledge necessary to work in blockchain development, not all employers require it to work in this industry. A number of certificate programs and boot camps can help you develop the skills specific to blockchain.

5 Steps to Becoming a Blockchain Developer

There is no one exact path to becoming a blockchain developer, and everyon’s journey is different. We’ve compiled some common steps to becoming a blockchain developer: 

  1. Discover how blockchain works

    There are many books, online courses and other professional development resources that can provide you with a broad orientation to the inner workings of blockchain and its practical applications.

  2. Learn coding

    There are a number of options for developing some basic skills in coding. Maybe it’s a degree program, one-on-one coaching by an expert, or an online course. Many job opportunities will require at least some formal computer science or information technology education.

  3. Orient yourself to smart contracts

    This rapidly emerging element of the blockchain value proposition involves program language that is intended to automatically execute, control or legally document events and transactions in accordance with a fully executed contract or agreement. Understanding this at even a basic level is a must. This guide from Investopedia can help.

  4. Read blockchain-related content

    Stay abreast of recent developments and emerging trends in the blockchain ecosystem by reading books and following related sites.

  5. Pursue ongoing skills development and training

    The blockchain space is evolving and expanding at a rapid clip. Therefore embracing a state of continuous improvement may help you stay on top of the latest trends and practical applications.

4 Skills That Blockchain Developers Use Every Day

The work of a blockchain developer is in a constant state of evolution given the rapid changes in the field. There are four common blockchain skills that professionals in this realm are asked to bring to the table. 

1. Research

First are the research-oriented aspects of the work tied to key protocols such as smart contracts and consensus mechanisms. Those involved in bitcoin and other cryptocurrency communities would fall into this realm.

2. Creating and reshaping blockchain applications

Second, there are the hardcore elements of the role involving the creation and reshaping of blockchain applications. Here the aim is to ensure the effective functioning and performance optimization of these various systems for everyday practical use in business and commerce. 

3. Development

Next are developer skills that are used for doing external audits of blockchain solutions along with assessing blockchain security protocols. 

4. User experience (UX) 

Finally, there are skills employed that primarily involve enhancements to user experience and everyday blockchain engagement protocols. 

Why Become a Blockchain Developer

The global consultancy and advisory firm Gartner cites blockchain as one of the top strategic technologies for 2020 and beyond. While blockchains — largely due to interoperability and scalability constraints — are still very much at an infancy stage relative to their practical use, these gaps are expected to narrow by 2023. 

Blockchain’s promise is immense due to its ability to eliminate the middleman, saving on costs and boosting efficiency when it comes to tracing transactions and products. This portends enormous opportunities for skilled developers actively engaged in the blockchain arena.

According to a case study on Walmart published by Hyperledger, the retail giant was able to decrease the time to trace food from farms to store shelves from over seven days to 2.2 seconds by deploying blockchain. This increased efficiencies and resulted in considerable cost savings. 

Blockchain developers can also yield scores of opportunities in fields like: 

Banking: Financial institutions only operate during business hours, five days a week. Blockchain functions 24/7. In other words, a financial transaction executed using blockchain is typically completed in four hours or less, seven days a week. 

Healthcare: The healthcare industry is exploring early pilot cases using blockchain to secure patient medical records. These records can be encoded and stored on the blockchain in a manner that makes them available only to those the patient authorizes.

Shipping: Blockchain offers potential solutions for paperwork and data tracking efficiencies, reducing waste and costs associated with freight movement.

Blockchain Careers and Salaries

Blockchain developer career opportunities and salaries are experiencing a meteoric rise worldwide as the demand for blockchain developers continues to soar. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not collect salary data on blockchain developers, but the career would fall under “software developers,” who earned a median annual wage of $103,620 in May 2018. Demand for software developers is expected to grow 21% from 2018 to 2028, the BLS reports.

In 2018, LinkedIn named blockchain developer the No. 1 emerging job in the nation. According to the site’s U.S. Emerging Jobs Report, job listings for those possessing blockchain ledger creation skills soared 33-fold in just a year. 

Explore a Career as a Blockchain Developer

From supply chain management to the capturing of data for genomic research, blockchain is being adopted by the likes of Pfizer, Walmart and General Motors, among many others. 

With advances in blockchain, many companies may soon integrate emerging blockchain solutions into their organizational ecosystem to boost profitability, business efficiency, and strategic marketplace positioning. 

All of this bodes well for aspiring blockchain developers. Well-paying, high demand jobs abound in this space, along with ground floor opportunities to make a difference in terms of the next wave of tech innovation.

Last Updated August 2020