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How to get a job as a blockchain developer or engineer

Matthew Finnegan | May 25, 2016
Why demand for distributed ledger expertise is on the rise.

A consensus appears to have formed that the distributed ledger system used to authenticate cryptocurrency payments can be adapted to a much wider range of processes.

And as businesses and even public sector bodies realise the potential of blockchain-based systems, demand for expertise to create pilot projects and launch products has grown swiftly.

"It's like any new technology - there is always huge demand for people with the right skills," says Steve Webb, a partner at PwC who has been involved in the creation of its blockchain technology team in Belfast.

Webb says that last year saw many organisations beginning to understand what blockchain systems can do, and uptake is now accelerating.

"If 2016 is the year of the early adopters starting to come to market, that will create the wave that sees demand really start to build up through this year and into next," he says.

Blockchain jobs: Who is hiring?

First let's take a look at where the demand for jobs is coming from. There are indications that increased hiring is occurring in a variety of sectors and industry verticals. Some are more advanced in their blockchain strategies than others, with the likes of Barclays and BBVA having been investigating the technology for some time now, while others have an understanding but are just testing the waters.

Blockchain startups and consortiums. Startups hiring in the this space are numerous - from those providing the foundation building blocks of the technology, such as Ethereum and Eris, to companies specialising in business applications, including Everledger. Also groups such as New York based R3, which is attempting to create blockchain standards in the financial sector.

Large tech firms. IBM and Microsoft have been creating products to support blockchain development with 'blockchain as a service' tools built into their existing cloud portfolios. Others that have joined the open source Hyperledger project include Intel and Fujitsu.

Banks and other private sector firms. Barclays has been particularly active in the blockchain space, alongside UBS, Santander and BBVA. Dutch lender ABN Amro recently announced it is building a 30-strong team to investigate blockchain use. However, most lenders have some level of interest. And it is not just the banks. Visa and Thomson Reuters have also been on the lookout for specialists, while Airbnb hired a team of blockchain and bitcoin specialists earlier this year.

Government. A report published by the government's chief science advisor, Sir Mark Walport, highlighted the potential in government and conversations have begun in the public sector around how blockchain can be used. A variety of use cases have been discussed, such as tracking student loan payments.

Professional services firms. All of the big consulting firms are at some stage of building out blockchain teams to advise their clients on what is expected to be a hugely transformative technology. Deloitte acquired blockchain startup Rubix, PwC snapped up Bitnet and is continuing to expand its team, Capgemini plans to have 100 specialists by the end of the year and KPMG has been hiring too.


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