This is Part 2 of a series on the blockchain developer job market.
In Part 1, we presented high level findings from our research on blockchain developer jobs as a result of surveying major U.S. recruiting sites. We were inspired to conduct our own research after seeing “Blockchain Developer” listed as the number one emerging occupation in LinkedIn’s 2018 U.S. Emerging Jobs Report. Quite a few people responded to Part 1 with insights and experience, and we’re excited to share insights from one of them here.
David Gadd consults with organizations regarding talent acquisition — specifically, helping them grow their in-house Blockchain teams. David didn’t agree with all our conclusions (it wouldn’t be very interesting if he did) so we reached out to have a conversation around what he’s been seeing, and are excited to report back to you with another perspective from an industry insider with their ear to the street.
Here are some highlights from our conversation and of course, we couldn’t do this without David so a big thank you to him for his willingness to speak with us and his transparency throughout our conversations.
Esprezzo: First, let’s start with the LinkedIn 2018 U.S. Emerging jobs report. 33x year over year growth for “blockchain developers” is tremendous. Is that the type of demand you are seeing?
David: The end of 2017 & early 2018 was an interesting time. Many Blockchain & emerging technology startup companies had already gone through an ICO, or were in the process of an ICO or were writing whitepapers and preparing for an ICO. The firms who had raised funds through an ICO were hiring in large numbers, particularly Developers and Architects, so contractor / consultant rates were sky high. As we know, as time went by in 2018 the ICO & cryptocurrency scene changed dramatically and funding for such projects suddenly declined, along with the decline for the huge need and inflated prices for Blockchain-related skills in some locations. So I understand the growth numbers but there are many factors to be considered.
Esprezzo: As our research was focused on US recruiting sites, we found that the vast majority of companies recruiting blockchain developers are US-based. How does this compare with what you’re seeing? Where else are you seeing growing demand for blockchain developers?
David: As these emerging technologies obviously have a global reach, there are pockets of locations where there is a higher demand for Blockchain-related skills. Certainly the UK, Ireland, Europe, US, Dubai, China, Australia and other parts of Asia there are signs that there is a great demand and this demand will only increase.
Esprezzo: When speaking with an organization looking to grow their blockchain team, what skills and experience are they looking for in developers?
David: With the maturity of the Blockchain/DLT (digital ledger technology) and the emerging technology ecosystem, when companies are looking for developers, they are looking for professionals who have been involved in completed proof of concept (POC) projects, with skills required in: Ethereum, Hyperledger Fabric and Corda Blockchain platforms. As more and more POCs are completed, more and more enterprises will be looking to plan and start Blockchain projects, either using external consultant firms or building internal teams. This is where we will see an increase in demand for Blockchain / emerging technology Developers, Architects, Project Managers and CTOs with full POC proven experience.
Esprezzo: Our research found that the vast majority of companies hiring blockchain developers are small (1-50 people). Do you have to join a startup if you want to be a blockchain developer?
David: With the increased interest from enterprises, as more POC projects come to light, there will be a shift from the smaller firms looking for these skills to the major corporations across all industry sectors, regardless of the size of the company. I’m seeing this already.
Esprezzo: It seemed that Financial Services and IT were leading the way when it came to blockchain developer hiring; would you agree?
David: In 2019, with the ‘emerging’ technology ecosystem maturing, there is a strong demand, which will dramatically increase, for Developers and Architects but at the moment I find it is mainly from the large consultancy firms like Deloitte, PWC & EY, KPMG along with IBM, Luxoft & Oracle etc. So yes and no. Every day we are seeing articles about POCs ’ across so many different industry types, with projects being completed, proving the huge benefits of the combination of emerging technologies like Blockchain, AI & IoT (Internet of Things). This is not unique to purely the financial sector or IT, but across all industries.
Esprezzo: Deloitte’s 2018 Global Blockchain Survey listed regulatory concerns, implementation and lack of in-house skills/understanding as the top 3 barriers for blockchain adoption within organizations. Is that the general sentiment you’re receiving from clients and do you anticipate these same barriers existing this time next year?
David: We are still very much in the infancy stage when it comes to Blockchain technology, so we are still seeing some hesitations from regulators, as well, there still needs to be a huge education process of where Blockchain can (and sometimes cannot) be most effectively used and of course the ever ongoing situation of explaining that blockchain is not Bitcoin. I believe all of these issues will be solved in time.
Esprezzo: Any advice for developers who are interested in working in blockchain?
David: The key, as always, is to have working experience as well as the training. A Developer with several years development experience who decides to cross train will certainly have a good opportunity to make the move into the Blockchain ecosystem. There are many Blockchain training opportunities, whether you decide to learn and study online or attend classroom training. Whenever there are new and emerging technologies, the training options are endless, but as always, ensure that the training has some credibility behind it (for example, I completed the Oxford University Blockchain Strategy program) and is relevant to where you want to go within the sector i.e. if you are looking for a more in-depth technical or business training course etc.. do your homework beforehand as some courses can be very general/ overview courses.