Would you like to become a blockchain developer? But not sure where to start, what to read, and what it is all about? Let me take you for a tour of the whole blockchain infrastructure to give you a good idea of what it is, how it works, and how to join the community.
What is a blockchain developer?
A blockchain developer is a type of programmer who works with blockchain technology.
And what does it mean?
Blockchain is a decentralized data storage solution that can be used by the public; what makes it so unique is that any data sent over the distributed ledger is not stored in a central location or by a third party. The technology was originally utilized for the creation of Bitcoin, the digital currency, but is now applied in a variety of industries.
Smart contracts are another example of the digital ledger innovation that a widely used nowadays.
Programmers are responsible for the full life cycles of blockchain applications, from research and analysis to design and execution. They work with various programming languages to:
- Create architecture
- Multiple features
Job duties may include building infrastructure, setting up security measures to protect against cyberattacks, educating sales personnel on company technology, and establishing best work practices.
How is blockchain software built?
Let’s imagine that a company wants to launch an ICO (Initial Coin Offering). This is where a company needs a Smart Contract developed.
To do that, the ICO founders need to first determine what public ledger will be used as there are many options. Ethereum is the most popular choice at this time, although the ability for companies to develop their own with technologies like Tendermint is becoming an attractive alternative.
If the founders decide to use the Ethereum public ledger, they will need to adhere to the ERC20 Token Standard which describes the functions and events that an Ethereum token contract has to implement — being able to query the total supply of tokens, the balance of addresses, the ability to transfer to and from accounts, approve or deny transactions, etc.
Once those foundational choices have been made Smart Contract development can begin.
Once the Smart Contract has been built, rigorous testing and a full security audit are highly recommended to ensure that it is ready for potential exploits and cyber attacks. ICO teams are beginning to publish bug bounties where community members can search for bugs and vulnerabilities in their platform and be paid for their work when they discover potential exploits or weaknesses.
As a dedicated Blockchain developer, you’ll deeply know the ins and outs of how your particular offering will work. Leading up to the launch and especially on the day you launch the ICO, you’ll need to be available to help answer community questions and manage expectations as well. This is super important as other team members may not be able to describe key components of the ICO in an adequate level of detail unless they too were a part of the development team.
Of course, an ICO is only a small slice of the blockchain pie. Companies and individuals can launch their own cryptocurrency without the need for investors, lawyers, or overseas shell companies. One could power an entire product or SaaS model business by virtue of a cryptocurrency. Smart Contracts need to be written for these projects as well.
Types of blockchain developers
Let’s check what are the common blockchain developers’ roles.
And architecture should be in charge of every software application. And here this role is called a Core Developer.
Core Blockchain Developers
Core developers are mostly responsible for developing the architecture of a public ledger, how its protocols should be designed, the design of consensus protocol, and other high-level decisions and development related to this technology.
This role includes the following duties:
- Design of protocols
- Design of consensus protocols and security patterns for the network
- Design of the network architecture
- Supervision of the entire network
In this case, the developer is responsible for:
- Designing and developing APIs for blockchain integration
- Doing performance testing and deployment
- Gathering requirements and working side-by-side with other developers and designers to design software
- Providing technical support
Blockchain developers and project managers fall under this category. Their main roles include:
- Developing and maintaining decentralized applications
- Supervising and planning projects
- Advising companies on how to structure initial coin offerings (ICOs)
- Understanding what a company needs and creating apps that address those needs
- For project managers, organizing training for employees
This type of developer is required to know a smart-contract language like Solidity, Python, or Go. Their main roles include:
- Auditing and developing smart contracts
- Meeting with users and buyers
- Understanding business flow and security to ensure there are no loopholes in smart contracts
- Doing end-to-end business process testing
Blockchain engineer required education
A career as a blockchain developer typically requires a bachelor’s degree in information security, computer science, or a related discipline. Some positions only require relevant experience and programming skills, and other positions require a degree and experience.
Blockchain developer skills
It is essential to have excellent programming skills if you are interested in working as a blockchain developer. Knowledge of various programming languages, such as C++, Java, and Python will be fundamental. Experience with cryptography and specific protocols, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, will be very helpful.
You should also have strong analytical abilities. You will need to evaluate a company’s needs and resources and implement appropriate solutions. You should also have effective communication skills in order to work with engineers and other technical personnel to create streamlined solutions.
The following technical skills are appreciated:
You should have an excellent understanding of blockchain and its architecture:
- Cryptographic hash functions
- Distributed ledger technology
The best way to get yourself familiarised with this technology is to go through the bitcoin blockchain whitepaper, but going through the complete white paper can be a tedious task and a little guidance always helps boost the learning curve. So don’t forget to check the communities.
Secondly, in-depth knowledge and applicative sense of data structures are a necessity. Blockchain developers are constantly playing around and tweaking existing data structures, Patricia trees, etc to meet their personal network requirements. Blockchain uses a plethora of data structures in conjunction with advanced cryptography to build a secure and immutable system.
It is only obvious that a good grasp of cryptography is also required. A lot of cryptographic methods like hash functions e.g. SHA256 and KECCAK256 are used in this field aside from asynchronous cryptography for generating digital signatures. Without understanding how these work, it is impossible to get this job
- Smart Contract Development
Smart Contracts have become a huge thing since the release of Ethereum. Now every public ledger tries to incorporate smart contract functionality into its system so that business logic can be easily applied to it. Hence, developers striving to get into this field should definitely learn about smart contract development. This generally entails learning network-specific languages like Solidity, Viper, Chaincode, etc.
Web development is a core aspect here. When a person begins his career as a blockchain developer in the industry, a majority of them are employed for the basic designing of decentralized applications. This means you must know the basics of both front-end and back-end development which includes things like creating interactive graphical user interfaces for Dapps, API handling, request handling, etc.
How to become a blockchain developer?
How to get started? Let’s together define where you should start and how to move on to your new dream career.
A bachelor’s degree in computer science or information security is required. You also need to have some fundamentals in data structures, cryptography, and networking, and distributed systems.
You can also learn blockchain development through multiple online courses and communities.
Bitcoin dev Jameson Lopp’s resources page is rich in links to portals on BTC tech. Udemy’s video courses are also well worth checking out.
There’s also a wide community you can join to help you gain entry as an actual developer, including Ethereum Stack Exchange and meetup events around the world.
This is where you can get basic information about the crypto world that you are about to dive in:
- Enterprise blockchain platforms
- Blockchain as a Service(BaaS) such as Hyperledger, Quorum, Corda and Ethereum Enterprise
- Learn about popular dApps
There is no single language for developing here. Different platforms and tokens are built with different languages. For example:
- Bitcoin – uses C++
- Ethereum – uses Solidity and Vyper for the development of smart contracts, and has SDKs in many languages for the rest of the Dapp
After you got the right vocabulary and the theoretical knowledge about the multiple cryptocurrencies and technologies behind them, it is time to apply your new skills by trying out one of the exchanges to get a better feeling of how everything works.
Go to Binance, Coinbase, or any other exchange that you are comfortable with or is accessible in your country and buy some coins. You don’t need to create an extensive portfolio straightaway, just buy a few coins and see how the whole process works.
If you don’t have any previous coding experience, you should start with Solidity language. It will help you create and develop dApps and smart contracts on Ethereum public ledger.
You may also want to dive deep into the open-source code of different platforms. Most of them are open-source, and hence the code is readily available for scrutiny or learning.
However, creating or maintaining an open-source blockchain is not easy. It requires you to overcome challenges such as security, performance, resource management, and isolation.
In short, you need to do the following.
- Create a simple block
- Create a blockchain out of it
- Understand what is genesis block and implement it
- Add the blocks to the blockchain
- Validate the chain.
One of the great things is that blockchain for developers is available with mostly free resources including tutorials, videos, webinars, and training.
- Coursera and Edureka over dedicated training into the fundamentals and the underlying principles
- You can access free bitcoin developer tutorials
- Hyperledger offers extensive resources and there’s also an Introductory course at EdX by the Linux foundation
- Kauri can guide your knowledge from beginner to advanced
- For hands-on learners, you can learn to make smart contracts in Solidity by making your own crypto-collectibles game.
- You can also contribute to open source projects which attach bounties such as Gitcoin.
A smart contract is also one of the vital concepts that you need to learn. According to Wikipedia, a smart contract is “a computer protocol intended to facilitate, verify, or enforce the negotiation or performance of a contract”. While it was first proposed by American cryptographer Nick Szabo in 1996, Ethereum is often credited with popularizing the concept and making it mainstream.
You can use it to automate or add functionality to your dApps. A smart contract needs to have three main features, including:
Find your first job
Once you feel like you have enough background information and knowledge, you should start looking for a job to apply all your skills and develop new ones.
A good starting point is to join a programmer’s community and always be on the lookout for an opportunity. You can join communities like Reddit, GitHub, and StackExchange.
Believe me, there is an enormous number of jobs in the blockchain.
This community is tight-knit, and many of the best developers and thought leaders are constantly engaging with each other to keep up on the latest projects and news. These meeting places are where a hiring manager will look for new candidates, whether they are online discussion groups or job boards like on Blockgeeks or any other related website in your area, or real-life meeting places, such as conferences.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not collect information on blockchain developers; however, the position would fall under software developers. The BLS lists a projected 21% job growth for software developers during 2018-2028, which is much faster than the average. The BLS reported the median salary for software developers as $105,590 in 2019. However, due to the in-demand nature of the specific skill set, this type of developer may earn more than other programmers.
Is there a demand for blockchain developers in 2020?
The banking sector, the insurance industry, governments, and retail industries are some of the sectors where these developers can work. If you’re willing to work for it, being a developer is an excellent career choice. Currently, the need outpaces available talent by far.
Blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other emerging technologies are going to lead the world to a new and more productive age; which would be referred to as the fourth largest technological revolution.
This is the reason the demand for software engineers using public ledger skills has increased in recent times. New research has demonstrated that businesses are interested in employing blockchain dev who hold experience in this sector.
According to a LinkedIn article a list of the most in-demand skills for 2020, blockchain is in the top-ten list.
Why not try to apply for a junior position as an Ethereum developer?
There’s a wide base of knowledge to help you become a blockchain developer. If you’re interested in joining the field, it’s an opportunity for you to make a difference by pioneering the next wave of tech innovations. It pays very well and is in high demand. There’s also a wide community you can join