what blockchain development looks like and why study it today
Compared to other IT segments, the demand for blockchain specialists can hardly be called very high now. But as market development forecasts show, the need for personnel will increase very quickly. Thus, the average annual growth rate of the industry is estimated within 68% – 73%. This means that by 2028 its volume will be close to $200 billion – 40 times more than in 2021.
Bitcoin is slowly gaining acceptance as a means of payment, with such laws already in place in El Salvador and the Central African Republic. And cryptocurrencies are the main area where blockchain is used, although the areas of application of this technology are gradually expanding. Now it is mainly DeFi (decentralized finance), art, entertainment, gaming and IT.
The development of the blockchain and cryptocurrencies market increases the demand for developers, so I think that in the near future we will see a new personnel market in IT. I notice this even in my company: if a couple of years ago there were no requests for blockchain specialists at all, now they steadily arise once every two three to four months.
For the developers themselves, now is probably the best time to get into the trade – while the technology is relatively new and companies do not require solid work experience.
About the principles of blockchain as briefly as possible
To outline the entry points to the profession, you first need to briefly outline what development on the blockchain is in principle – for those who are unfamiliar with this topic.
The specificity of the blockchain is its decentralization: the system does not have a single server for data, so they are stored by all participants in the chain (hence the name of the technology is a distributed ledger). In order to perform actions in the blockchain, the chain participants need, relatively speaking, to agree: all new records must be verified by each node in the network. The set of verification rules is called the blockchain protocol, and the verification mechanism itself is called the consensus algorithm. Algorithms are different: Proof of Work, Proof-of-Stake, Delegated Proof-of-Stake – but we will not dwell on them now.
To create blockchain-based applications, no special equipment is required: development, just like in the classic version, is carried out in an IDE – for example, in the same JetBrains. There are also specialized IDEs – say, Remix Solidity IDE.
Different blockchains differ in their protocols and technology stack. Applications are most often written on Ethereum, with Solana and Cardano among other popular ones. These are open source blockchains that allow any user to create their own projects on them. Programming languages for them can be unique or universal: for example, Etherium has developed its own Solidity language, while Solana uses the more familiar Rust, C and C ++.
There are many other tools associated with distributed registries: for example, to connect the front part of a site or application to Ethereum, you need to turn to the Web3.js or Ethers.js libraries, the blockchain has its own frameworks, APIs and SDKs.
The largest scope of blockchain is projects related to cryptocurrencies, since the crypt itself works on the basis of distributed ledger technology. But developers from other areas can also participate in the creation of such services: for example, when the part related to the purchase and sale of currencies is built on the blockchain, and the application interface and its logic are based on classical technologies.
What employers require
At the university, almost no blockchain developers are taught. Almost – because Russian universities have several advanced training programs and courses: for example, in Moscow State University and St. Petersburg State Universityand at MIPT you can even finish magistracy. Disciplines related to distributed ledgers are included in some other higher education programs in the field of IT and finance. There are also foreign master’s programs – for example, in frankfurt or at Malta.
But there is no special need to get a diploma in the field of blockchain: firstly (as almost everywhere in IT), technologies in this area are developing very quickly, and the landscape of the profession is changing. Therefore, what is relevant today may become obsolete tomorrow. Secondly, employers themselves are not looking for applicants with an academic education. Requirements usually include experience with blockchain technologies that are applied in their project.
The duration of work experience is usually not indicated: companies understand that there are few specialists on the market who have created projects on the blockchain for years, so the real skills of the candidate come to the fore. In addition, employers often look for specialists with good back-end expertise, and numbers are already indicated here: usually 5 years or more. A mandatory item in almost all vacancies is knowledge of English.
Where to get experience
All these skills can be acquired independently. Firstly, there are now a huge number of online courses on blockchain. I will not give examples here, since this is a separate large topic – but on the Internet you can find many collections of such programs and reviews on them.
Secondly, a specialist must have a practical base. The most famous platform for its development is the resource CryptoZombies. This is a fun, but very high-quality game tutorial for writing smart contracts on Solidity: users create their own zombie army, fight zombie troops of other players, while learning the principles of working with smart contracts and applying them in the game.
But the most important source of development in blockchain technologies is a huge living community built on the principles of mutual assistance. There are a lot of professional communities in the field of blockchain and cryptocurrencies: on Twitter, Discord, Telegram, forums where participants actively ask questions, share experiences, discuss ideas and launch joint projects. Many experts maintain their blogs, release videos and podcasts (but here it is important to make sure that you do not run into an infogypsy, since there are many who want to make money on a hype topic). There are even specialized sites for finding jobs in the field of blockchain and cryptocurrencies: for example, CryptoJobsList or Cryptocurrency Jobs.
Situations often arise in the blockchain community when, for example, a designer wants to create his own NFT project and turns to developers with a request to help with smart contracts. This is one of the opportunities to build a portfolio, get real experience, or even launch your own startup by helping each other. The whole point of a decentralized Web3 world is to put the power of the corporations in the hands of the people, which is why the community is so supportive.