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.

Bitcoin and blockchain jobs are booming — and they pay well
Glassdoor Economic Research
  • 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.

Job compensation

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 skills

Golden Gate Bridge

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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.

"Blockchain companies are looking for Internet-of-Things (IoT), Java, Javascript, C++, and Golang developers, as well as for those with knowledge in cryptographic algorithms. However, developers are getting harder to find as a lot of this type of work is mainly research and development (R&D) that's not normally required in a technology organization. Universities are currently teaching solidity code, but I feel that there is more to blockchain than just ETH solidity smart contracts."

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.

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Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.

U.S. Navy ships

Credit: Getty Images
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Credit: NASA
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CRISPR therapy cures first genetic disorder inside the body

It marks a breakthrough in using gene editing to treat diseases.

Credit: National Cancer Institute via Unsplash
Technology & Innovation

This article was originally published by our sister site, Freethink.

For the first time, researchers appear to have effectively treated a genetic disorder by directly injecting a CRISPR therapy into patients' bloodstreams — overcoming one of the biggest hurdles to curing diseases with the gene editing technology.

The therapy appears to be astonishingly effective, editing nearly every cell in the liver to stop a disease-causing mutation.

The challenge: CRISPR gives us the ability to correct genetic mutations, and given that such mutations are responsible for more than 6,000 human diseases, the tech has the potential to dramatically improve human health.

One way to use CRISPR to treat diseases is to remove affected cells from a patient, edit out the mutation in the lab, and place the cells back in the body to replicate — that's how one team functionally cured people with the blood disorder sickle cell anemia, editing and then infusing bone marrow cells.

Bone marrow is a special case, though, and many mutations cause disease in organs that are harder to fix.

Another option is to insert the CRISPR system itself into the body so that it can make edits directly in the affected organs (that's only been attempted once, in an ongoing study in which people had a CRISPR therapy injected into their eyes to treat a rare vision disorder).

Injecting a CRISPR therapy right into the bloodstream has been a problem, though, because the therapy has to find the right cells to edit. An inherited mutation will be in the DNA of every cell of your body, but if it only causes disease in the liver, you don't want your therapy being used up in the pancreas or kidneys.

A new CRISPR therapy: Now, researchers from Intellia Therapeutics and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals have demonstrated for the first time that a CRISPR therapy delivered into the bloodstream can travel to desired tissues to make edits.

We can overcome one of the biggest challenges with applying CRISPR clinically.

—JENNIFER DOUDNA

"This is a major milestone for patients," Jennifer Doudna, co-developer of CRISPR, who wasn't involved in the trial, told NPR.

"While these are early data, they show us that we can overcome one of the biggest challenges with applying CRISPR clinically so far, which is being able to deliver it systemically and get it to the right place," she continued.

What they did: During a phase 1 clinical trial, Intellia researchers injected a CRISPR therapy dubbed NTLA-2001 into the bloodstreams of six people with a rare, potentially fatal genetic disorder called transthyretin amyloidosis.

The livers of people with transthyretin amyloidosis produce a destructive protein, and the CRISPR therapy was designed to target the gene that makes the protein and halt its production. After just one injection of NTLA-2001, the three patients given a higher dose saw their levels of the protein drop by 80% to 96%.

A better option: The CRISPR therapy produced only mild adverse effects and did lower the protein levels, but we don't know yet if the effect will be permanent. It'll also be a few months before we know if the therapy can alleviate the symptoms of transthyretin amyloidosis.

This is a wonderful day for the future of gene-editing as a medicine.

—FYODOR URNOV

If everything goes as hoped, though, NTLA-2001 could one day offer a better treatment option for transthyretin amyloidosis than a currently approved medication, patisiran, which only reduces toxic protein levels by 81% and must be injected regularly.

Looking ahead: Even more exciting than NTLA-2001's potential impact on transthyretin amyloidosis, though, is the knowledge that we may be able to use CRISPR injections to treat other genetic disorders that are difficult to target directly, such as heart or brain diseases.

"This is a wonderful day for the future of gene-editing as a medicine," Fyodor Urnov, a UC Berkeley professor of genetics, who wasn't involved in the trial, told NPR. "We as a species are watching this remarkable new show called: our gene-edited future."

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