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How To Pursue A Career In Blockchain Development?

Blockchain is on the cusp of revolutionizing how the world handles information, with benefits including decentralization, automation, lower costs, greater participation, and more efficiency being just some of the benefits it will bring. Blockchain was first created to support Bitcoin, but has since shown that its versatility and security can be beneficial in just about any kind of industry. 

It’s no surprise that the world is crying out for more blockchain developers to build the next generation of decentralized applications. By specializing in a dynamic new technology that will change the world, developers can create numerous exciting opportunities for themselves and carve out the rewarding career they deserve. 

If the prospect of becoming a blockchain developer seems like an enticing one, read on to learn how to get started. 

Understanding Blockchain

Before you can begin on your newly chosen career path, you have to understand what it is that you’ll be doing, and the first step is knowing what blockchain actually does. Blockchain is in fact just a special kind of database that’s used to store information.

However, it differs from a traditional database, which stores information in rows and columns. Instead, blockchains store data in “blocks” or clusters of information that have a limited storage capacity. 

Once the block becomes full, it closes and starts a new block that’s linked to all of the previous ones. These blocks are linked using cryptography, and they’re stored on hundreds or even thousands of separate nodes, or servers, that can be scattered across the world.

In this way, blockchains can be thought of as a distributed database and they’re also fully immutable, meaning that the information stored on them cannot be changed. Because there are so many separate and independent copies of the same data, if one node decides to alter the data it stores, all of the other nodes would notice and reject that change. 

In this way, blockchains can be maintained in a decentralized way. That’s different from a traditional database, which is managed by a centralized authority. 

Building Blockchains

Blockchain developers are the people tasked with designing, building, and maintaining blockchains and the applications and systems they power. One of the most important tasks for blockchain developers is the creation of so-called smart contracts, which are used by blockchain-based applications to automate actions.

Smart contracts are the basis of decentralized finance, which is an alternative financial ecosystem to traditional banks that powers lending, borrowing, and asset trading, among other things.

Smart contracts are similar to traditional ones, but instead of being enforced by a central authority such as the government, they rely on computer code. So when certain, pre-defined conditions are met, the smart contract will automatically trigger an action, without any intermediary. 

The Role Of Blockchain Developers

The actual work performed by a blockchain developer falls into two distinct categories. On the one hand, they might be concerned with developing the actual blockchain system. These core blockchain developers are responsible for developing and maintaining a blockchain’s architecture, designing protocols and security mechanisms, and ensuring that the network runs as it should. 

We also have blockchain application developers who design and build apps that run atop blockchain networks. They’re responsible for both the front-end and back-end design of their apps, how they look and work, and also the maintenance of those apps. 

Why Become A Blockchain Developer?

People choose to become blockchain developers for many reasons, but most will agree that enthusiasm for coding and building software is a must-have. There are also some excellent benefits to be had. For one thing, those who are successful in the role will surely have no problems finding work.

Demand for blockchain developers is expected to remain high for years to come because it’s such a disruptive new technology. At present, job opportunities are widespread, and if anything there will soon be even greater demand. A recent study by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows there is expected to be a 22% growth in the number of blockchain development positions between 2020 and 2030. 

Because blockchain development skills are in high demand, those who have them can ask for a lot of money. According to the employment site Glassdoor, blockchain developers earned an average salary of $119,780 per annum in 2021. 

How To Become A Blockchain Developer

The very first step is to learn how to code. Only once you have foundational knowledge of software development and programming, can you start to specialize in blockchain development. 

In terms of academic background, many blockchain developers start off with a degree in information technology or computer science, though it’s equally possible for self-taught programmers to specialize in the blockchain. 

Once you know how to code, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of blockchain. You need to know not only what blockchain is but also exactly how it works. Luckily, there are plenty of introductory courses available on the web where you can learn about the basics of blockchain. 

Essential Skills For Blockchain Developers

Every blockchain developer will need to learn a basic skill set to achieve competency in this area. 

Once you’re competent in basic programming, the very first step will be to expand your knowledge by learning the most commonly used programming languages in blockchain development. A good place to start is Python, which is widely used because it’s one of the most versatile coding languages around. You’ll also probably want to teach yourself how Solidity works, as this is the smart contract programming language used by Ethereum and many other blockchains. 

Another key skill that must be mastered is cryptography. This is a key element of any blockchain and it’s what’s used to protect sensitive data stored on the network and ensure it cannot be hacked. Cryptography secures information by ensuring that it can only be accessed by authorized parties.

You’ll also need to learn how to create smart contracts, which are the basic software programs that enable decentralized applications. 

Other useful skills include data structures. Blockchain developers will need to be able to work with and implement multiple data structures to build more complex applications. Finally, you’ll also need a solid grounding in blockchain architectures. There are several different architectures used to build blockchains today, including public networks, private networks, consortium-based networks, and hybrid networks. 

Blockchain Development Specialization

Learning the basics of blockchain will set you on the right path, but to enjoy a really distinguished career it will pay to specialize in a specific subset of blockchain development. 

One of the most promising career paths for blockchain developers is DeFi, and within that segment one of the most interesting recent developments is asset-oriented DeFi. Most blockchain developers today are familiar with Solidity and its smart contracts and know only too well about its major shortcomings. 

Traditional DeFi based on Ethereum is incredibly complex and littered with vulnerabilities. To remedy this, Radix has created an asset-oriented approach to DeFi that introduces the concept of reusable components and blueprints. With Radix, developers can essentially build DeFi apps using “lego bricks”, putting together various components, which are similar to smart contracts, to create the functionality they need. 

The simplicity of Radix Engine is likely to create high demand for blockchain developers who’re well-versed in Scrypto, the Rust-based programming language of Radix. Scrypto is important as it allows developers to use Rust-style logic to interact with digital assets on its platform, easing smart contract development. With Scrypto, it’s possible to create DeFi apps that follow a natural thought pattern of how smart contract code actually works. It’s a more intuitive process that results in faster development and more reliable apps. For this reason, developers who specialize in Scrypto are likely to be richly rewarded for their efforts when DeFi takes over the world. 

There are of course many other focus areas that developers can choose, such as GameFi, which pertains to video games built on the blockchain, or NFTs, which are unique digital assets whose ownership can be recorded on public networks. 

A Bright Future

You can study blockchain development through countless online courses, blogs, and YouTube videos, but there’s no better way to really get to grips with it than by putting those skills into practice. What that means is on-the-job training, working on real projects that are currently crying out for skilled blockchain developers. 

Once you know the basics of blockchain, finding that first position should be a piece of cake because demand for such skills is sky-high. A good starting place is to join communities on sites such as StackExchange, GitHub, Reddit, and Medium. 

The blockchain industry is one that’s only just getting started, and as it slowly matures, there will be countless opportunities for developers to advance their careers and earn higher salaries. So long as you know your craft well and specialize, the future will be bright.