Popular Cryptocurrencies (+Investing, Careers, and More)

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Learn about cryptocurrency and what you need to start your career as a crypto investor.

[Featured Image] A cryptocurrency analyst is checking the latest information on popular cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrencies have become quite popular in the last decade, since 2010, when the first cryptocurrency transaction was made to purchase a pizza using Bitcoin. Cryptocurrencies have been a controversial topic, with some seeing them as the currency of the future and others viewing them as volatile and untested. Learn more by discovering how cryptocurrencies work, the different types, and the skills and education that can help you understand cryptocurrency.

What are cryptocurrencies?

Cryptocurrency is digital money used to buy, sell, and trade, but it is usually decentralized, meaning there is no authority to regulate it, such as a bank. Instead, it uses cryptography—or secure, encrypted messages—to record transactions. 

Bitcoin was the first successful cryptocurrency and is viewed by many as the most dominant. Since cryptocurrency has become popular, many more coins have made their way onto the market with mixed success. 

How do cryptocurrencies work?

Instead of having the authority to manage and regulate the value of cryptocurrency, this is done by blockchain technology. Blockchain is a system of recording transactions, like a digital public account book, that is highly difficult to change, tamper with or hack. Every transaction (grouped as a block) is stored in the chain (blockchain).

People create cryptocurrencies in different ways. Some create it through mining, which is a system of solving complex mathematical puzzles to validate transactions, and some use methods of creating and distributing tokens. 

Read more: Cryptocurrency: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Types of cryptocurrencies 

Many different types of cryptocurrencies are available to research and understand. CNBC estimates over 19,000 different cryptocurrencies exist, with developers able to use an original source code from blockchain technology and create a new one [1]. Bitcoin has the biggest market value at $383 billion as of January 2023 [2]. However, you can learn about plenty of other popular cryptocurrencies:

Ethereum (ETH)

Ethereum (ETH) has the second-highest market value at $197 billion [2]. New blocks are validated on the Ethereum blockchain every 12 seconds, making transactions very fast. It’s also capable of processing other financial transactions, running applications, and creating smart contracts on its chain. 

XRP Ripple

XRP Ripple is an altcoin (alternative to Bitcoin). While other cryptos seek to work against banks, Ripple wants to be able to become a coin bank to serve banks. 

Cardano (ADA)

Cardano is a relatively recent introduction to the crypto market and comes with the added value of being more environmentally friendly than some of the earlier big players. It can also use its chain for smart contracts and decentralized apps. 

Polkadot (DOT)

Polkadot launched in 2020 and has seen steady growth. It brings with it new technology that wasn’t used for earlier cryptocurrencies. It has faster transactions and making it cheaper to run, as well as being able to interact with other blockchains. 

Bitcoin Cash (BCH)

Bitcoin cash (BCH) is from the developers of Bitcoin, on the same blockchain, in an effort to make something faster and cheaper than the original Bitcoin. It is more scalable than Bitcoin and is used for payment methods rather than investment purposes. 

Dogecoin (DOGE)

Dogecoin started as a joke, named after a popular meme at the time, making fun of Bitcoin. It quickly gained popularity to cult status in early 2021 and rose to its greatest heights so far. Since then, its value has declined. 

Binance Coin (BNB)

Binance is a crypto exchange site where you can trade crypto. Binance Coin is the crypto issued by the Binance network, offering lower fees to trade it on the platform. You can also use it to raise funds, process payments, pay for entertainment, invest, and extend loans. 

Tether (USDT)

Tether is a digital token rather than a blockchain and has been around since 2014. Since then, it has worked up to become popular and is considered a relatively stable investment as it is tied to the US dollar; therefore, known as a stable coin. 

What about Bitcoin?

Bitcoin still has the largest share of the crypto market [2]. Although any crypto investment comes with a large set of risks, Bitcoin is well-established and has developed many new cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin has also reached mainstream popularity, whereas many large multinational companies accept Bitcoin as a payment method, including Microsoft, Starbucks, and PayPal.

How do I learn about investing in cryptocurrency?

Learning how to use or invest in crypto may help you progress in your career, hobby, or personal finances. It’s important to fully understand it before investing, given that it can be complicated and the crypto market can be volatile. 

A good place to start is to understand the terminology used and research exchanges, wallets, and the different types of cryptocurrency. Be sure to work out your finances and how much you can afford to invest.

Skills you need to work in the crypto space

If you want to work in the crypto space, mastering certain technical and workplace skills are typically beneficial on your resume. Similarly, even as a hobbyist, these can be useful to you. Different skills will apply to different roles, but the following skills are generally in demand when working in the cryptocurrency space:



  • Accuracy

  • Collaboration

  • Integrity

  • Creativity

Do you need a degree to be a crypto investor?

Anyone can invest in cryptocurrency with their own funds and investments. As many traders work for themselves or invest as a side hustle, there are no requirements. However, if you are looking to start a career as a crypto investor, you will need some formal education, such as a bachelor’s degree in a subject like computer science or computer engineering. 

Studying for a bachelor’s degree in blockchain or cryptocurrency is possible, which may be valuable if you are looking to enter the field. However, since these are relatively new programs, they are not currently expected. 

Read more: Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering: How the Jobs Differ

Other jobs in the cryptocurrency field

In the crypto field, plenty of jobs are available that require knowledge of cryptocurrency but utilize other skills. Examples and  U.S.average base salaries include:

  • Cryptocurrency analyst: $76,848 [3]

  • Security engineer:$130,772 [4]

  • Crypto content writer: $49,545 [5]

  • Web developer: $82,516 [6]

  • Marketing manager:$75,8215 [7]

  • Data scientist:$125,178 [8]  

*All salary data is sourced from Glassdoor as of January 2023

Courses and certifications for crypto investing

Taking courses or gaining certifications can be a great way to learn more about crypto and enhance your resume. If you’re looking to invest in cryptocurrency, either independently or employed by a company, many courses are available to help you. In addition to the degree courses mentioned above, you might consider these courses and certifications:

Next steps

Whether you are interested in investing or taking your crypto-focused career in a different direction, you can start by understanding the fundamentals with a course such as Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Explained, delivered by the University of Michigan on Coursera.

Article sources


CNBC. “Crypto firms say thousands of digital currencies will collapse, compare market to early dotcom days, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/03/crypto-firms-say-thousands-of-digital-currencies-will-collapse.html.” Accessed January 13, 2023. 

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