Maybe you read that recent Upwork report. Or maybe you came across the not so recent AngelList article. Or perhaps you just figured it out yourself, after spending a dozen sleepless hours fruitlessly surfing the job boards for traditional means of employment.
The cryptospace is exploding with jobs, led by a legion of newly minted startups clamouring for a set of niche skills. Be it writers or coders, financial experts or hardware engineers, there a slice of the pie for everyone. If you too have ever wondered how to transition from a helpless enthusiast trying to outguess the whims of the latest altcoin to the expert who rakes in the hashed currencies, you have come to the right place.
Find your Mojo
It is all very well to speak of jobs in cryptocurrency, but what jobs exactly? Lying at the intersection of various unconnected disciplines, the field of cryptocurrency involves an eclectic cast of professionals with diverse backgrounds and skill sets. Before diving into this encrypted ocean, it would be well to know your place in all this.
Communication, or rather, the lack of it, is the principal barrier around any nascent technology. Especially in an innovation as complex as cryptocurrency, there is an urgent need to present its principles to the general audience in an easy to digest manner, before individuals and institutions can begin to place their trust in it. This is fueling an unprecedented demand for writers well versed in cryptospeak, or cryptocurrency writers.
Arguably the easiest job to get into, all one needs to make a dent in this field is a healthy knowledge of latest crypto trends combined with a certain flair for the written word. Bonus points if you actually know your Ethereum from your Litecoin, and don’t think cold storage is for keeping vegetables.
The classic you-cannot-go-wrong option, blockchain developers are to cryptocurrencies what software engineers are to the web; the architects of its very foundations. As such, the demand for blockchain devs is evergreen, making blockchain the hottest skill in the market. Every ICO (Initial Coin Offering) needs to built upon a blockchain, supported by well engineered code to communicate flawlessly with the underlying protocols. And with a new coin sprouting every hour, this demand is not going to abate any time soon. Better still, blockchains can be leveraged for applications other than cryptocurrencies, such as in warehousing, or even gaming, which calls for wizards to design custom blockchains from scratch, or build on an existing network such as Ethereum using smart contracts. Be warned, however, of the technical depth required in this role, requiring wide ranging knowledge across all aspects of software development and networking, along with proficiency in languages like C++ and Python.
No, I don’t mean the kind that wears yellow helmets with flashlights and merrily chips away at hard rocks with pickaxes; I am talking about cryptocurrency miners, who set up powerful rigs that hammer away at the complex proof-of-work algorithms of the various cryptocurrencies to uncover new coins. Thanks to the burgeoning popularity of cryptocurrencies, this job has suddenly come in vogue, with huge mining pools employing thousands of specialized chips being set up across the world. These mining units have to be monitored and carefully maintained to ensure peak efficiency, creating an opportunity for enthusiastic IT professionals adept at working with networked hardware. An education in electrical engineering can also come in handy, equipping the miner to diagnose system issues and decrease cooling costs through superior set-ups, while some software chops can help out in understanding the coin protocols.
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Originally, crypto traders used to be lone wolves, gambling their way through the coin exchanges in hopes of making riches overnight. With the advent of big money on the crypto scene, however, trading in coins came to be regarded as serious business, with companies setting up crypto exchanges to facilitate transactions of the encrypted currency, and other companies investing in the digital assets. Navigating these exchanges soon came to resemble their stock market analogues, and as such, gave rise to similar professionals engaging in speculative activities, a` la Wall street brokers. That is where the modern day trader comes in, executing coin trades for large investment firms, coordinating with their peers for executing a certain investment strategy. A trader should also know to analyse the market for volatility, and adjusting their trades. This means some knowledge of statistical analysis methods are a huge plus, implemented in software packages like Matlab or in languages like R.
Until recently, the profile of a majority of crypto investors consisted of hype followers, who had jumped into the bandwagon based on hearsay and marketing gimmicks, making ad hoc purchases and driving up coin prices to unsustainable levels. But the bursting of the bubble this February sent ripples across the market, dumping once buoyant currencies to the rock bottom and utterly destroying some of the weaker ones. With it, the space has now entered into a more mature phase, one that values careful analysis over sentiment hopping. And as with any financial instrument, this creates a niche for professionals to dissect the landscape and design sound investment strategies. Crypto analysts are responsible for keeping up with developments in the field and assessing the potential of upcoming ICOs to decide on an optimum investment route to maximise the returns of the portfolios managed by them. A background in finance is a staple in this career, along with a passion for cryptocurrencies.
Know thy enemy
Owing to its largely technical nature, it is very hard to fake it in a cryptocurrency job. If you are really set upon making a career in this field, it would be wise to make sure you have the relevant know-how before you dash of that resume of yours.
The first source of knowledge that comes to the mind when looking to brush up your skills, Coursera is the perfect platform for getting introduced to the basic tenets of cryptocurrency or cryptography. This course by Princeton, for example, will help you understand the fundamentals behind Bitcoin (and to some extent, most altcoins) at a technical level. Other courses can include this informative primer on Solidity, especially useful for a Blockchain Developer.
Basic understanding alone, of course, is hardy sufficient to land you a job. To refine your knowledge further, there is no better recourse than turning to the internet. Just know what you are looking for though, or you will quickly get lost in a deluge of articles. For example, if all you want is to pursue a career in writing, you don’t really need to get into the technical details of how blockchains work, and should only focus on getting informed on the main aspects of most major coins and technologies, such as Ethereum or Ripple in addition to Bitcoin, and of course the gist of the investment climate. On the other hand, if a Blockchain Developer is what you are out to be, you will not get far without knowing how to write smart contracts in Solidity, or being able to design secure crypto wallets. Whereas traders and analysts would do well to acquaint themselves with the interfaces of the top exchanges, and study the history and outlook of the major coins.
While crypto centred degrees are still on the distant horizon, some traditional degrees can ground you with the relevant skills to tackle cryptocurrencies. Trained software engineers will find it easier to adapt to the needs of the blockchain, so a Computer Science major can put a long way ahead, while the usual business maxims still apply in the field of crypto investment, making that MBA a good step. Just make sure to embellish your repertoire with crypto specific skills too, by signing up for a couple of MOOCs and picking up some practical experience.
Talking about a thing in theory is one thing, applying it in practice quite another. Nothing beats getting your hands dirty, so before you consider your education complete, try actually doing the job you aim for. If you want to be a writer, write some mock articles, if code is your kind of thing, implement a couple of programs, and if you want to be a trader or analyst, navigate your way around an exchange, and execute some trades.
Choose your Battlefield
Once you have the necessary skills in your bag, the next thing to decide is what kind of role you are looking for. A traditional 9-to-5 job? Or freelance gigs where you juggle a dozen assignments from your home? Or a mixture of both, where you are only required to be in the office on certain days for meetings and such? Take your pick.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of crypto jobs are remote in nature. This is due to two main factors: First, the cryptospace is dominated by young startups, with low budgets and immediate goals. Second, individuals skilled in this space are still few and far in between, forcing companies to look beyond their geographical boundaries for filling critical gaps. This may not necessarily be a bad thing, for it allows you to quickly work your way through a variety of gigs, picking up skills and building your resume in the process. For those not living in places where all the action is, this is an incredible boon, allowing them to build a lucrative and flexible career from the comfort of their homes.
Cryptocurrency is foremost an innovation of computer science. Therefore the hubs of the tech industry – Palo Alto, San Francisco, New York – also double up as the hubs of cryptocurrency activity, boasting of hundreds of startups and thousands of openings. That said, the location of a job is greatly affected by the role being sought. Mining activities are mostly centered in China, and since the crackdown there, are moving to cold Western countries such as Switzerland and Canada to cut down on cooling costs, making them the place to be for a mining technician. Financial hubs such as London, while not boasting of cutting edge technology, have well rooted investment networks, and see a healthy demand for traders and analysts. Even cities like Washington D.C., decidedly slow on technological uptakes, are seeing an upsurge for cryptocurrency jobs, led mostly by a demand of writers by the news agencies headquartered there.
Take the Plunge
As a newbie in this field, it might be difficult to convince prospective employers of your suitability for a position. Examples always help, demonstrating your ability to finish a project and communicating your knowledge of the nitty-gritty of the field. That can mean maintaining a well written blog for writers (and to some extent, for analysts as well) or constructing a sample smart contract and posting the code to Github for a Blockchain Developer. Once you have a sample, it is time to actually apply.
For a budding freelancer, this step should be easy. Sites like Freelancer or Upwork are choc-a-bloc with advertisements concerning every role and platform, offering a plethora of opportunities for the beginner. Even though it can take some time to build up clients and trusts, bidding on such sites can often be the best way to land that first gig. Alternatively, you can seek out specialized platforms. Writers can find jobs concerning cryptocurrencies by scouting regular writing job boards like Problogger, while coders can apply to sites like Toptal or Codementor for fuss free access to high paying, consistent work. Traders and analysts can tap into the discussion channels offering investment advice by participating in informed conversations, which can easily convert to an invitation to work on a larger project.
For on-site roles, job sites like Indeed or AngelList are your best friends. Their postings are numerous and regularly updated, giving plenty of choices for landing that dream job, and are mostly scam free, unlike many job boards out there. Maintaining a lively social media presence can also help, with your informed tweets or blogs attracting an entrepreneur into contacting you directly. This can be done the other way around too; if you have an impressive resume and some reputation in this field, you can try ‘cold pitching’ your services to a prospective employer, or simply follow their accounts to cultivate a relationship that can yield returns in the future.
P.S. If a company offers to pay you back in the same coin (ie. in crypto), make sure you know how to convert your coins to fiat currencies. After all, till that time your grocer starts accepting bitcoins, you need some dollars for your bread and butter, right?
Rinse and Repeat
Living at the forefront of a new technology can offer unprecedented opportunity for growth, allowing one to earn some quick successes. But the fluctuating nature of cryptocurrency’s underlying tech means that the needs, demands and requirements of this world are constantly in a state of flux, developing some new facet of complexity everyday. At Total Crypto, we believe it is vital for professionals in this field to be constantly upgrading themselves, be it learning about the rapidly transforming technologies to staying abreast of changes in the regulatory environment. Cryptocurrency is poised to storm the world; make sure you are riding the crest – and cryptocurrency jobs will follow.