The Journey of Becoming a Blockchain Developer
Discover what it means to be a blockchain developer, the essential hard and soft skills required, and the educational resources to begin your journey in this field.
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Blockchain solutions are becoming more popular, signaling a rising demand for professionals who develop these systems. Just six to eight years ago, the role of a blockchain developer was relatively obscure. Today, you can find these professionals networking in dedicated communities, actively engaging in forums, and scouring job sites for the most attractive employers. In this article, I will explore what it takes to become a blockchain developer.
While cryptocurrencies remain the most popular application of blockchain technology, their significance in the digital sphere has vastly broadened. Today, blockchain plays a crucial role in enhancing digital security, such as thwarting DDoS attacks and hacking attempts, by bolstering data protection in cloud storage via decentralized networks. It also revolutionizes advertising by directly connecting goods and services with consumers, bypassing the need for intermediaries. In the entertainment sector, blockchain technology presents new avenues for safeguarding artists' copyrights. In finance, it fortifies the security protocols of banking transactions.
A concept known as a Decentralized Autonomous Organization has emerged, functioning on blockchain principles. These are collective entities governed by their members, operating under a shared set of rules encoded into a digital document. Every decision within a DAO is a group consensus, achieved transparently through blockchain-facilitated voting via smart contracts. Notable examples of such entities are decentralized investment funds and crypto exchange platforms.
This evolution signifies a shift in the perception of blockchain technology, from a tool tailored exclusively for cryptocurrencies to a versatile technology synonymous with distributed ledgers, operational transparency, and a means to establish a secure, trustworthy digital environment.
Who Is a Blockchain Developer?
Simply put, a blockchain developer is an expert who develops and refines applications based on blockchain technology. Their career can take various forms, such as specializing in smart contracts, core development, blockchain data analysis, or developing distributed applications.
What Skills Are Required?
If you already have a couple of years of development experience, you can likely manage the transition into blockchain on your own in just a few months. It is crucial to recognize that different programming languages are used for various aspects, like server, front-end, or analytics, and others are specific to writing and examining smart contracts.
A practical approach is to initiate your journey by crafting a few smart contracts. You can test these by launching them on a local network like Ganache or on official test networks (e.g., Ethereum's Goerli) and subsequently share your work on GitHub.
Hard Skills for Aspiring Blockchain Developers
Again, to become a blockchain developer faster, you need proficiency in programming (however, you do not need to be a full-stack expert; proficiency in one of the mentioned languages is enough), a good grasp of architecture, familiarity with the technologies that form the backbone of blockchain, and ideally, some hands-on experience in developing smart contracts.
Here is a rundown of the key skills likely to come up in a job interview:
- Competency in using protocols such as HTTPS, RPC, and gRPC.
- Practical understanding of how REST API principles are implemented.
- Familiarity with one well-known networks like Ethereum, TON, or Solana, which are vital for developing applications with decentralized data storage and managing cryptocurrencies.
- Experience in crafting smart contracts, particularly in the language suited for the chosen network, like Solidity for Ethereum.
- Skills in working with cryptographic tools and applying computer science and mathematical principles to encrypt data at the sending point and decrypt it at the receiving end.
- A foundational understanding of blockchain basics, including database and computer network management systems, which are crucial for the creation and maintenance of blockchain technology, and the ability to design network topologies.
- Knowledge of various data structures such as arrays, linked lists (both branched and linear), trees, etc.
Companies typically do not specify the length of work experience required for blockchain positions. They recognize that the market has few professionals with years of experience in blockchain projects. As a result, they prioritize the actual competencies and skills of the candidates.
Helpful Soft Skills
What additional qualities are beneficial for you to thrive as a blockchain developer? While they share many similarities with typical developer skills, there are certain distinct aspects to consider. Key soft skills include:
- A strong inclination toward analytical thinking.
- A proactive mindset in learning new technologies.
- The ability to solve problems efficiently, especially in rapidly changing conditions. Think of it as on-the-fly risk management during uncertain times.
- Creativity in finding unique solutions to complex issues.
What sets blockchain apart from other fields is its novelty and the lack of comprehensive regulations governing it. So, a blockchain enthusiast should be genuinely curious and eager to stay updated with emerging laws and the expanding scope of blockchain applications. Adhering to ethical norms and community guidelines is also crucial.
Learning Blockchain Development
While some universities offer relevant programs, not many of them are truly extensive. At the same time, some of these courses may be expensive or require a solid previous background. So, you will likely need to rely on self-education at the end of the day.
You can build your skills and even craft your first smart contract by exploring various resources, like video tutorials or online forum discussions. Microsoft provides an online course for blockchain basics and development on the Ethereum platform. There are also good free courses available on Coursera, covering topics such as:
After these courses, you will have a solid grasp of blockchain's key concepts and models, a deeper understanding of decentralized finance's infrastructure and applications, and the know-how to create smart contracts.
What to Check Out
Here is a list of possible resources to help you get started and feel confident as you dive into the blockchain world. These references are great for understanding the basics and exploring how blockchain is used in various fields.
- "The Truth Machine: The Blockchain and the Future of Everything," Michael J. Casey, Paul Vigna.
- "Blockchain Basics: A Non-Technical Introduction in 25 Steps," Daniel Drescher.
- "Proof of Stake: The Making of Ethereum and the Philosophy of Blockchains," Vitalik Buterin.
- "Mastering Blockchain: Inner workings of a blockchain, from cryptography and decentralized identities to DeFi, NFTs, and Web3," Imran Bashir.
- "ValueWeb: How Fintech Firms are Using Bitcoin Blockchain and Mobile Technologies to Create the Internet of Value," Chris Skinner.
Why Is Blockchain Development a Hot Career Right Now?
Blockchain's power lies in cutting out the middleman, streamlining management, and shrinking the costs related to record-keeping and transaction verification. Another critical point is the rise of Web3, the next phase of the Internet. It is built on blockchain and revolves around decentralization and a token-based economy. This new web phase embraces novel financial services, NFTs, and digital twins, all skyrocketing in popularity.
Moreover, the buzz around companies stepping into the metaverse, where blockchain reigns, is real and growing. A significant thrust is also the integration of blockchain into fundamental technologies across various industries. All this means blockchain developers will be hot property for at least the next three to five years.
While initially popular in systems for supply chain, cross-border payments, identity verification, and asset management, blockchain's reach has now extended. It is making waves in sectors like healthcare, banking, retail, real estate, and logistics. So, it is no surprise that blockchain developers are in high demand.
Without a doubt, learning a promising IT field like blockchain development will become more accessible in a few years. Educational programs in universities and comprehensive online courses will eventually incorporate this specialty, considering the students' initial levels. The market's demand for adept professionals is pressing, and it is only going to escalate daily. Competition is also set to intensify with the arrival of more junior-level blockchain developers.
I bet there are developers among you who have transitioned from one specialty to another. Share your career journey in the comments, and let's collectively inspire those just starting in this field.
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