Once a week.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Bitcoin and blockchain jobs are booming — and they pay well
Research shows that employers are working to find more talent in the blockchain space, and they're willing to pay higher rates for it.
- A study by Glassdoor found that demand for blockchain work has risen 300% since last year.
- Glassdoor reported the median starting salary for blockchain job openings was over $32,000 higher than the median US salary, an increase of 61.8%.
- Despite the issues in the current crypto market, blockchain technology appears to have a bright future.
For those in the United States, the economy continues to push forward full steam ahead. According to a recent jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the month of October, the US economy added 250,000 jobs to reach an unemployment level of 3.7%, extending a record streak of 97 consecutive months of growth. That's great news for Americans in the job market as unemployment maintains a steady 49-year low; however, there's one area of the economy that's seeing even more growth: blockchain-related jobs. A recent study from Glassdoor found that blockchain-related job openings in the US have increased 300% compared to last year and that the salaries are growing too. Even with the drastic price drop in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, those with blockchain skills are a hot commodity in the tech workforce.
Growth in demand
Glassdoor's study found a significant increase in demand from employers looking for talent in the blockchain space even after the price of bitcoin dropped dramatically. As of August 2018, the website reported 1,775 unique blockchain-related job opening in the US. That number represents a 300% year-over-year increase from 2017. The good news for those in the workforce is that the numbers remained essentially unaffected by bitcoin price volatility.
During the so-called "crypto-mania" bull run that occurred during the end of 2017, Glassdoor calculated unique position openings in the range of 695 - 748, compared to the current openings which more than double that. Regardless of the volatility in the markets, employers are still seeking talent in the blockchain space like never before. Further contributing to the data is Upwork's Q1 2018 Skills Index, which ranks the 20 fastest-growing skill sets for freelancers and companies looking for contractors. According to the report, blockchain was the number one fastest-growing skill set.
Besides a growing number of employers looking for blockchain talent, there's more good news for those in the space: the pay. While those with technical skills already tend to command higher than average salaries, job openings in the blockchain space are offering significantly higher salaries than most others.
Glassdoor reported the median starting salary for blockchain job openings was $84,884 compared to the median salary in the US of $52,461. The difference in salaries is substantial, to say the least, at over $32,000 higher than the median US salary, an increase of 61.8%. The burgeoning field in the tech sector is offering such high salaries for a few reasons, including the lack of available talent in blockchain and the locations of the jobs themselves, with major metropolitan areas topping the list of locations for job openings.
Location and skillsGolden Gate Bridge
One of the reasons for such high starting pay with job openings is due to where the jobs are located. As is often the case with the tech world, major cities like New York City and San Francisco top the list of American cities with blockchain job openings, followed by expected locations like San Jose, Chicago, Seattle, Boston and Los Angeles. Outside the United States, other international hubs are seeking blockchain talent as well. London, Singapore, Toronto, and Hong Kong claim the top of the list for blockchain job openings in the international job markets. The variety of companies looking for workers in the space is huge as well, and companies such as IBM, Facebook, JPMorgan and many others are only a few of the names in the mix. With higher average cost of living, larger salaries are a way for companies to incentivise talent to come to them, but what type of talent are they looking for?
Chai Shepherd is an advisor to the Resto project, a blockchain solution for food services, and Co-Founder of PLAAK, a project aimed at making blockchain implementation easier. He is a well-known crypto investor and has a lot of experience finding new talent. Through his experience in the industry, Shepherd has noticed particular skills that stand out to employers and innovators and knows that it's not always easy to find skilled developers.
Also included in Glassdoor's research is the type of talent employers are looking to attract. According to the data, software engineering is the most sought-after occupation, which is unsurprising as more companies look to implement blockchain technology into their platforms. Software engineer listings alone accounted for nearly 20% of all job opening postings on Glassdoor related to blockchain technology. Other sought-after positions included analyst relations manager, product manager, front-end engineer, and technology architect, though all in the single-digit percentages of openings.
So, what does all this mean? For starters, insights from Glassdoor show that even with the hefty volatility of bitcoin and other cryptocurrency prices, blockchain technology appears to be staying relevant. In fact, listings for blockchain-related job openings have only increased (by a lot) after the drastic decline in the cryptocurrency markets. That's good news for those interested in the field of study and work.
Additionally, the research shows that employers value knowledgeable individuals enough to offer much higher starting pay for those with the know-how to help implement blockchain technology.
For a nascent industry like cryptocurrencies, the research comes not so much as a surprise, but as an affirmation for the future of the industry to come. What we're seeing happen is following a similar pattern in the tech world for those with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning skills. Though the regulatory status of cryptocurrencies remains unclear in the US, the growth in the industry related to the underlying technology is not. Looking forward, the blockchain industry is poised to continue its rapid growth.
Scientists find routes using arches of chaos that can lead to much faster space travel.
- Researchers discovered a route through the Solar System that can allow for much faster spacecraft travel.
- The path takes advantage of "arches of chaos" within space manifolds.
- The scientists think this "celestial superhighway" can help humans get to the far reaches of the galaxy.
Humanity could be making its way through the Solar System much faster thanks to the discovery of a new superhighway network among space manifolds. Don't get your engines roaring along this "celestial autobahn" just yet, but the researchers believe the new pathways can eventually be used by spacecraft to get to the outer reaches of our Solar System with relative haste.
The celestial highway could get comets and asteroids from Jupiter to Neptune in less than a decade. Compare that to hundreds of thousands or even millions of years it might ordinarily take for space objects to traverse the Solar System. In a century of travel along the new routes, a 100 astronomical units could be covered, project the scientists. For reference, an astronomical unit is the average distance from the Earth to the Sun or about 93 million miles.
The international research team included Nataša Todorović, Di Wu, and Aaron Rosengren from the Belgrade Astronomical Observatory in Serbia, the University of Arizona, and UC San Diego. Their new paper proposes a dynamic route, going along connected series of arches within so-called space manifolds. These structures, coming into existence from gravitational effects between the Sun and the planets, stretch from the asteroid belt to past Uranus.
The most pronounced of these structures are linked to Jupiter by its strong gravitational pull, explained UC San Diego's press release. They influence the comets around the gas giant as well as smaller space objects called "centaurs," with are like asteroids in size but exhibit the composition of comets.
This animation shows space manifolds over a hundred years. Each frame of the animation shows how the arches and substructures appear over three-year increments.
Credit: Nataša Todorović, Di Wu and Aaron Rosengren/Science Advances
"Space manifolds act as the boundaries of dynamical channels enabling fast transportation into the inner- and outermost reaches of the Solar System," write the researchers. "Besides being an important element in spacecraft navigation and mission design, these manifolds can also explain the apparent erratic nature of comets and their eventual demise."
A closer image of the manifolds showing colliding and escaping objects.
Credit: Science Advances
The researchers discovered the structures by analyzing collected numerical data on the millions of orbits in the Solar System. The scientists figured out how these orbits were contained within known space manifolds. To detect the presences and structure of the space manifolds, the team employed the fast Lyapunov indicator (FLI), used to detect chaos. The scientists ran simulations to compute how the trajectories of particles approaching different planets like Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune would be affected by possible collisions and the manifolds.
While the results are encouraging, the next step is to figure out how these arches can be used by spacecraft for much speedier travel. It's also not clear how similar manifolds work near Earth. Also unclear is how they impact our planet's run-ins with asteroids and meteorites or any of the man-made objects floating up in space near us.
Check out the new paper "The arches of chaos in the Solar System" in Science Advances.
A new episode of "Your Brain on Money" illuminates the strange world of consumer behavior and explores how brands can wreak havoc on our ability to make rational decisions.
- Effective branding can not only change how you feel about a company, it can actually change how your brain is wired.
- Our new series "Your Brain on Money," created in partnership with Million Stories, recently explored the surprising ways brands can affect our behavior.
- Brands aren't going away. But you can make smarter decisions by slowing down and asking yourself why you're making a particular purchase.
How Apple and Nike have branded your brain | Your Brain on Money | Big Think youtu.be
Brands can manipulate our brains in surprisingly profound ways. They can change how we conceptualize ourselves and how we broadcast our identities out to the social world. They can make us feel emotions that have nothing to do with the functions of their products. And they can even sort us into tribes.
To grasp the power of brands, look to Apple. In the 1990s, the company was struggling to compete with Microsoft over the personal computer market. Despite flirting with bankruptcy in the mid-1990s, Apple turned itself around to eventually become the most valuable company in the world.
That early-stage success wasn't due to superior products.
"People talk about technology, but Apple was a marketing company," John Sculley, a former Apple marketing executive, told The Guardian in 1997. "It was the marketing company of the decade."
So, how exactly does branding make people willing to wait hours in line to buy a $1,000 smartphone, or pay exorbitant prices for a pair of sneakers?
Branding and the brain
For more than a century, brands have capitalized on the fact that effective marketing is much more than simply touting the merits of a product. Some ads have nothing to do with the product at all. In 1871, for example, Pearl Tobacco started advertising their cigarettes through branded posters and trading cards that featured exposed women, a trend that continues to this day.
It's crude, sure. But research shows that it's also remarkably effective, even on monkeys. Why? The answer seems to center on how our brains pay special attention to information from the social world.
"In theory, ads that associate sex or status with specific brands or products activate the brain mechanisms that prioritize social information, and turning on this switch may bias us toward the product," wrote neuroscience professor Michael Platt for Scientific American.
Brands can burrow themselves deep into our subconscious. Through ad campaigns, brands can form a web of associations and memories in our brains. When these connections are robust and positive, it can change our behavior, nudging us to make "no-brainer" purchases when we encounter the brand at the store.
It's a marketing principle that's related to the work of Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist and economist who won the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. In his book "Thinking Fast and Slow", Kahneman separates thinking into two broad categories, or systems:
- System 1 is fast and automatic, requiring little effort or voluntary control.
- System 2 is slow and requires subjective deliberation and logic.
Brands that tap into "system 1" are likely to dominate the competition. After all, it's far easier for us as consumers to automatically reach for a familiar brand than it is to analyze all of the available information and make an informed choice. Still, the most successful brands can have an even deeper impact on our psychology, one that causes us to conceptualize them as something like a family member.
A peculiar relationship with brands
Apple has one of the most loyal customer bases in the world, with its brand loyalty hitting an all-time high earlier this year, according to a SellCell survey of more than 5,000 U.S.-based smartphone users.
Qualitatively, how does that loyalty compare to Samsung users? To find out, Platt and his team conducted a study in which functional magnetic resonance imaging scanned the brains of Samsung and Apple users as they viewed positive, negative, and neutral news about each company. The results revealed stark differences between the two groups, as Platt wrote in "The Leader's Brain":
"Apple users showed empathy for their own brand: The reward-related areas of the brain were activated by good news about Apple, and the pain and negative feeling parts of the brain were activated by bad news. They were neutral about any kind of Samsung news. This is exactly what we see when people empathize with other people—particularly their family and friends—but don't feel the joy and pain of people they don't know."
Meanwhile, Samsung users didn't show any significant pain- or pleasure-related brain activity when they saw good or bad news about the company.
"Interestingly, though, the pain areas were activated by good news about Apple, and the reward areas were activated by bad news about the rival company—some serious schadenfreude, or "reverse empathy," Platt wrote.
The results suggest a fundamental difference between the brands: Apple has formed strong emotional and social connections with consumers, Samsung has not.
Brands and the self
Does having a strong connection with a brand justify paying higher prices for their products? Maybe. You could have a strong connection with Apple or Nike and simultaneously think the quality of their products justifies the price.
But beyond product quality lies identity. People have long used objects and clothing to express themselves and signal their affiliation with groups. From prehistoric seashell jewelry to Air Jordans, the things people wear and associate with signal a lot of information about how they conceptualize themselves.
Since the 1950s, researchers have examined the relationship between self-image and brand preferences. This body of research has generally found that consumers tend to prefer brands whose products fit well with their self-image, a concept known as self-image congruity.
By choosing brands that don't disrupt their self-image, consumers are able not only to express themselves personally, but also broadcast a specific version of themselves into the social world. That might sound self-involved. But on the other hand, humans are social creatures who use information from the social world to make decisions, so it's virtually impossible for us not to make inferences about people based on how they present themselves.
Americus Reed II, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania, told Big Think:
"When I make choices about different brands, I'm choosing to create an identity. When I put that shirt on, when I put that shirt on — those jeans, that hat — someone is going to form an impression about what I'm about. So, if I'm choosing Nike over Under Armour, I'm choosing a kind of different way to express affiliation with sport. The Nike thing is about performance. The Under Armour thing is about the underdog. I have to choose which of these different conceptual pathways is most consistent with where I am in my life."
Making smarter decisions
Brands may have some power over us when we're facing a purchasing decision. So, considering brands aren't going away, what can we do to make better choices? The best strategy might be to slow down and try to avoid making "automatic" purchasing decisions that are characteristic of Kahneman's fast "system 1" mode of thinking.
"I think it's important to always pause and think a little bit about, "Okay, why am I buying this product?" Platt said.
As for getting out of the brand game altogether? Good luck.
"I've heard lots of people push back and say, "I'm not into brands,"" Reed II said. "I take a very different view. In some senses, they're not doing anything different than what someone who affiliates with a brand is doing. They have a brand. It's just an anti-brand brand."
Powerful branding can not only change how you feel about a company, it can actually change how your brain is wired.
- Powerful branding can not only change how you feel about a company, it can actually change how your brain is wired.
- "We love to think of ourselves as rational. That's not how it works," says UPenn professor Americus Reed II about our habits (both conscious and subconscious) of paying more for items based primarily on the brand name. Effective marketing causes the consumer to link brands like Apple and Nike with their own identity, and that strong attachment goes deeper than receipts.
- Using MRI, professor and neuroscientist Michael Platt and his team were able to see this at play. When reacting to good or bad news about the brand, Samsung users didn't have positive or negative brain responses, yet they did have "reverse empathy" for bad news about Apple. Meanwhile, Apple users showed a "brain empathy response for Apple that was exactly what you'd see in the way you would respond to somebody in your family."