Learn about what blockchain technology is, how it is being used in different industries, and available opportunities for a career in this field.
When you begin a career in cryptocurrency, understanding blockchain is fundamental to understanding the structure of cryptocurrency transactions. Since blockchain technologies are developing at a fast rate, workers with knowledge of blockchain are in high demand. Applying your blockchain skills to different areas can help you expand your professional opportunities and start a fast-paced career path in blockchain cryptocurrency and beyond.
Blockchain technology records and confirms cryptocurrency trades, much like a digital ledger. When you buy, sell, or exchange cryptocurrency, a blockchain collects the information and stores it. This information stays in a secure location that’s not under a centralized government overseeing or controlling the cryptocurrency market. Many professionals consider crypto coins a “global currency” because they hold the same value worldwide.
With blockchain technology, each transaction or piece of data is stored as a “block.” You then add this block to the existing chain of blocks to create a chronological picture of all activity. The blockchain is secure and transparent, so each block is irreversible and viewable by everyone.
Blockchain in cryptocurrency
Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other wide-scale cryptocurrency coins use blockchain to process and record transactions securely. This remains the primary use of the technology. However, it is making its way into projects outside of cryptocurrency. Understanding how these blocks are coded and how different industries may benefit from this application can help you market yourself to new roles in this field.
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Cryptography, Smart Contract, Decentralized Protocols, governance, Blockchain Mechanics, Consensus mechanisms, digital signature, Address mechanics, Flash loans, Bonding curves, Set Protocol’s tokenization method, Mechanics of Compound and Aave, dYdX’s derivatives implementation, Proficiency with MakerDAO, Constant function Automated Market Makers, Understanding smart contract risk, Different approaches to custody, Ethereum 2.0 approaches to scaling, Mechanics and risks of decentralized exchange, Assessing regulatory risk
As the uses of blockchain technology continue to expand, learning some of the key terms will likely be helpful if you begin working in this field.
Blocks: As the name suggests, Blockchain is a chain of blocks. Each time a transaction occurs, the data becomes a new block. This block has a cryptographic hash that links it to the most recent block, a notation of the time, and a record of transaction information. The blocks link in chronological order and can record each new block on devices around the world rather than on one or two devices. This ensures accurate, transparent, and permanent records.
Mining: Mining describes the process of updating the blockchain by adding blocks and creating new coins. For this, miners validate the transactions, which requires them to solve cryptographic hash puzzles. Once miners validate your transaction, you can add the block to the blockchain ledger and update records. This type of validation requires high-level computing power and advanced equipment. Those pursuing a career in mining often invest in this type of equipment and receive Bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies as payment for mining efforts.
Nodes: A node in blockchain technology is a computer that runs blockchain software and has access to the blockchain. The network of nodes in the blockchain is all the computers that run the database. Every node updates with the latest version of the blockchain, so there is a decentralized record of all transactions.
Read more: Cryptocurrency Explained: Definitions, Skills, and Opportunities
The use of blockchain for currency is currently the most common use of this technology. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other wide-scale cryptocurrency coins use blockchain to process and record transactions securely. This technology makes it possible to ensure transparency and protect the financial information and identity of crypto buyers and sellers.
The success of blockchains for currencys has opened the door to many opportunities for expansion. The technology can increase connectivity and transparency between organizations and streamline processes.
For example, using smart contracts can simplify transactions and business payments. These smart contracts set up a list of conditions to be met and code the payment to be released once users meet the conditions. Blockchain technology can provide templates for these contracts and simplify payments since they don't need intermediaries.
The use of blockchain in the financial industry has the opportunity to make transactions more efficient. It may streamline international and domestic transactions, reduce transaction fees, and increase transparency. Visa has shown the efficacy and potential of blockchain technology for mainstream use since adopting blockchain for international business payments in 2017 .
Blockchain technology can record the transaction records for property in a transparent, widely available, and secure way. This allows the public access to an indisputable record of property ownership and makes these records more easily available than following a paper trail. When it's time to sell, verifying and transferring ownership can be done more efficiently.
Inefficient hospital record-keeping and lack of security have caused problems for providers and patients. Blockchain technology has the potential to secure patient data, track outbreaks of diseases, and create more accessible hubs of medical information. Instead of tracking data across all locations, patients and providers can access all the information in a decentralized database.
Blockchain technology offers two key benefits to supply chain functions: improved data security and communication. Manufacturers, shippers, and customers have access to the most up-to-date information about the shipping process. Not only does this keep everyone in the loop, it can also improve coordination between supply chain partners and reduce execution errors.
The immutable nature of blockchain makes it appealing to election officials who want to increase public confidence in election results. Blockchain technology could promote transparency in election results and securely store records of all votes. Not only does it create a permanent register of votes, but it can reduce the possibility of voter fraud since each ballot corresponds to a single ID.
Many industries are seeing the advantages of blockchain for storing, recording, and securing their data, such as global access and increased privacy. While specific advantages and disadvantages of blockchain uses will differ by industry, common advantages include the following:
Anonymity: Blockchain technology allows you to create transactions under pseudonyms without being attached to your identity. While the record is available publicly, the identities of the people making them often are not.
Cost: Blockchain technology can potentially reduce the cost of international transactions. This comes from lower transaction fees, reduced need for an intermediary, and automated smart contracts to streamline transactions.
Decentralization: The decentralized nature of blockchain means records remain consistent records across locations and countries. This diminishes discrepancies in data and ensures professionals have access to the same information.
Increased privacy: Blockchain encrypts data and uses a system that prevents data corruption. Private key authentication is used to protect data, so network administrators only have access to an overview of the data and not user-specific information.
Permanent records: Each data block has a cryptographic signature that validates that the information has not been tampered with. Because blockchain information exists across many devices, the data record stays forever. This takes away debate about the validity of the records.
Security: Blockchains are not kept in a centralized location, so hackers cannot disrupt or corrupt the data. The blockchain is continually updated to nodes worldwide and provides an indisputable record of data and transactions.
Streamlined processes: Blockchain technology can provide templates for smart contracts, making it easier for businesses to set up transparent, efficient, and secure business deals. Smart contracts with blockchain reduce the steps to complete a transaction and process payments quicker.
Because of how novel blockchain is, many careers in this industry are still emerging. It’s an exciting time to build skills in this area, as you never know what potential opportunities are around the corner. Common professional opportunities in blockchain technology include the following development and consulting jobs.
*All salary data is sourced from Glassdoor as of March 2023*
Average annual base salary (US): $90,942
Blockchain developers use blockchain technology to develop applications for organizations, including dApps and smart contracts. Sometimes, you may focus on creating protocols and architecture and maintaining and improving them over time. You also can design software that operates on this architecture.
Average annual base salary (US): $73,739
As a blockchain legal consultant, you would help companies navigate blockchain implementation. This can include finding the best practices to protect information and privacy while maintaining transparency. You also may be asked to help companies ensure they comply with US regulations and abroad.
Average annual base salary (US): $79,974
Blockchain project managers build teams of blockchain experts to work on blockchain-related projects. In this role, you are responsible for tracking deadlines, solving problems, and communicating between experts and customers to ensure the project meets the customer's needs. Although this is a relatively non-technical role, understanding blockchain technology can be useful.
Average annual base salary (US): $101,096
Blockchain quality engineering positions are similar in their responsibilities to other software quality engineers, except the focus is on validating the use of blockchain technologies. When a company or industry designs a new blockchain environment for a specific process, your role would be to test and validate that the project is ready to be used publicly.
Average annual base salary (US): $100,533
Blockchain solutions architects work with research and design teams to design platforms and solutions that address problems. You also have opportunities to look for ways to improve the current system, identify risks, and maintain operational efficiency. Understanding blockchain and business operations can contribute to your success in this role.
Average annual base salary (US): $80,776
As a UX designer, you will be responsible for creating and maintaining the user interface for the application. As companies create new blockchain solutions, they need user interfaces that are easily accessible and convenient for customers to use. This can help facilitate the wide-scale adoption of this technology.
The qualifications and degrees needed for a career in blockchain technology vary by profession. For example, a blockchain UX designer may showcase their experience with UX design on previous projects and demonstrate how these skills can transfer to UX design in the blockchain space. A blockchain project manager may want to show proven success managing technical teams and why they would be the right fit to lead a project team in this area.
In general, a degree in computer science or a related field can demonstrate working knowledge in the technical field. In any position related to blockchain technology, showing an in-depth knowledge of how blockchain technology works can help you stand out to employers and validate your knowledge and skills.
Many blockchain professions are relatively new, so finding people with direct experience in blockchain technology can be rare. For this reason, showing your knowledge of this area and technical skills related to the position can help you stand out from other applicants. You may consider building the following skills:
Ready to take the next step toward a blockchain technology career? Take an introductory course on Coursera to start building your knowledge base and find the right fit for you. As opportunities in blockchain technology continue to grow, you can develop your skills in line with the industry. Taking courses like Blockchain: Foundations and Use Cases by ConsenSys Academy or University Certificates such as the Blockchain Applications Certificate by Duke University can help you build your portfolio and expand your skill set.
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The Motley Fool. “Uses for Blockchain in the Financial Services Industry, https://www.fool.com/investing/stock-market/market-sectors/financials/blockchain-stocks/blockchain-in-finance/." Accessed March 9, 2023.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.