So, you’re interested in a blockchain career?

Posted on Oct 29, 2019 :: Partner
Posted by Patrick Riley, president, New Horizons

When the digital currency Bitcoin burst onto the scene a decade ago, blockchain became the way to track it. Today, the tech community has found a multitude of other uses for blockchain. Businesses use it to track, store and transfer information transparently and securely.

Many people have heard about blockchain technology due to its connection with cryptocurrencies, but few understand its capabilities. In this article, I’ll share some of the key skills, training and certifications to help you learn blockchain and jumpstart your career in this lucrative field.

First of all, what is blockchain?
Essentially, blockchain is a continuous list of records and transactions (known as blocks), which connect to one another using cryptography. Each of these single blocks contains a cryptographic hash of previous blocks, a timestamp and applicable transaction data.

What makes blockchain technology so valuable is it cannot be modified or tampered with retrospectively. As an open ledger, verifiable transactions can take place between two parties with minimal security risks. Blockchain is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after skills in America. In a recent Deloitte survey, 53 percent of business executives said blockchain technology was a critical priority for their organization in 2019.

Skilled blockchain developers can earn a median salary of around $127,000 and make upward of $172,000 in tech-heavy regions like New York City or Silicon Valley. The personal benefits of learning blockchain are clear. But today, there are a limited number of blockchain developers with the skills and aptitude necessary to obtain these advanced positions.

Since blockchain is still a new technology in the business world, many IT professionals are unfamiliar with the barriers to entry and qualifications for these positions.

How to learn blockchain
Most people who seek out blockchain skills have a background in software engineering or programming. Some universities such as MIT and Stanford are starting to offer courses in blockchain and cryptocurrency engineering. Specialty schools like Blockchain University in Silicon Valley even offer a blockchain-specific curriculum.

While earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science is one way to learn blockchain and cryptocurrency technology, it’s not required for success in the industry. There are several other ways of learning blockchain beyond a traditional four-year degree route.

Learn cryptography
Cryptography is one of the fundamental elements of blockchain technology.

Cryptography involves studying techniques for communicating and storing information securely while eliminating the risk of interception by outside parties.

As a key component of blockchain technology, cryptography is necessary for ensuring transaction integrity, guarding against security breaches and much more. Understanding cryptography can provide a strong foundation for learning blockchain technology.

Take Ethereum training courses
Ethereum is a blockchain platform that supports a distributed ledger and smart contracts. Smart contracts are computer programs that create contractual agreements between two or more parties. Ethereum network nodes can be used to execute smart contracts.

Anyone can create Ethereum decentralized applications on public networks, so learning it can be beneficial to those interested in blockchain technology.

Learn programming
You can use several programming languages to create applications for blockchain technologies. Traditional programming languages like C++, Python and JavaScript are popular for blockchain. A few new languages, such as Simplicity and
Solidity, which are more specific to blockchain, are also becoming popular.

As a new developer, it helps to actively participate on social platforms such as GitHub, Reddit and Stack Exchange. Visiting these forums allows you to chat with experienced individuals, seek advice and ask questions from other members of the community.

Practice mechanism design
Mechanism design is an inverse form of economic game theory. Mechanism design takes desirable outcomes and works backward to create games that strategically influence people’s decision-making. Mechanism design is closely related to cryptoeconomics as it can be used to produce specific outcomes. These mechanisms are used to create economic incentives using cryptography and decentralized software.

Learning the fundamentals of mechanism design can help you better understand the important elements of blockchain technology.

Take blockchain training courses
Perhaps the quickest and easiest way to learn blockchain technology is by taking blockchain training courses. While programming experience can be useful, any motivated individual can successfully learn the basics of blockchain.

Blockchain career paths
Leaders in every industry are looking to incorporate blockchain technology into their business processes. As a result, new blockchain-specific job titles are emerging to meet the demand. There are several different career options available once you have mastered blockchain, including:

Blockchain app developer: Developers are responsible for creating real-world applications for different types of businesses.

Blockchain project manager: This role acts as a liaison between business personnel and blockchain app developers. They strive to understand the needs of both parties to create a streamlined blockchain development process.

Blockchain legal consultant: These consultants give business owners and their teams critical legal advice for building legal partnerships and contracts. They are knowledgeable about initial coin offerings (ICOs) and the handling of transactions that use blockchain technologies.

Blockchain web designer: Since many businesses have begun incorporating blockchain technology into their website, blockchain web developers are in high demand to create consumer-driven websites.

Blockchain quality engineer: Companies rely on blockchain quality engineers to maintain adequate development standards. They must test different scenarios within the blockchain world using automation frameworks, testing devices, platforms and network capabilities.

These are just a few of the highly sought-after positions related to blockchain technology. As the technology grows, there are sure to be numerous job opportunities to follow. This is an exciting time to be part of this emerging and potentially game-changing technology, and those with the skills to navigate and manage a blockchain environment may reap great rewards.

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Patrick Riley is the president of New Horizons of Wisconsin. New Horizons delivers high-quality live training to professionals in dozens of technology families. The firm has grown to be the largest in the state, annually providing more than 14,000 live training classes in more than 700 different course titles, delivered by 1,100 certified experts, providing their clients unparalleled depth and quality of learning. He also leads the company’s efforts in personal career development and is passionate about helping individuals enter and grow in the IT industry.