Now that everybody is a “trader,” can we have more skilled professionals next?
For those who want to take blockchain technology seriously—outside of cryptocurrency trading—here are the highly sought out professionals the industry needs, and the skills needed to become one. The list also includes links to free tools and tutorials but feel free to explore for more. Some courses even come from well-known universities, like Harvard or MIT.
As the industry progresses, possibilities open up more and more opportunities. The World Wide Web is also full of free resources, ranging from text to Youtube videos, podcasts to interactive tutorials.
Developers are one of the most in demand professionals inside and outside the blockchain industry today. Even in start-up hackathons—if you frequent Slack or Rocket chat channels, you will find that when users are forming teams, developers are the quickest to run out.
This isn’t surprising since they are the builders of applications and therefore enjoy some of the highest pay scales worldwide. But it takes a lot of work to become a developer—learning the programming languages isn’t enough. Developers need to continuously update their skills since they are not only racing with the business competition—they are also racing against hackers.
The blockchain industry is tightly woven in with the cryptocurrency industry. And because the cryptocurrency boom has raked in a lot of money (oh, so much money), it has inevitably attracted an entire league of new age criminals as well. Needless to say, security is one of the most critical aspects of development.
While it’s easy to make your own token and launch an ICO for instant profits, serious and respectable developers do not jump into that wagon just like that. There’s a reason why computer science is a science.
Blockchain technology is a very complex field—even outside of the politics and drama, the logical flow of processes can easily get lost when developers are pressured to solve problems and provide a service whilst watching their backs and keeping one eye open for bugs that could potentially enable hacks at the expense of investors, which can ultimately cause the entire project to implode.
Fortunately, user interface and user experience (UI/UX) designers are a separate set of professionals who are largely focused on how intuitive, logical, and easy the experience will be for end users.
While some UI/UX designers are also well-versed in code, you don’t have to make that jump into coding—as mentioned, that’s what we have developers for. And although you will find job ads that “require” all sorts of development languages, the truth is, those companies are simply looking to save big bucks, eg. “pay one person to do two jobs.”
UI/UX is one of those aspects of an app whose success can be measured on whether or not anybody noticed: if it’s well-done, nobody will notice; if it’s poorly done, everybody will. UI/UX design is also critical in the early stages of a start-up as it is a primary and powerful presentation tool especially when presenting to investors for funding. And most importantly, UI/UX can actually determine the success or failure of a project—such as why people choose Chrome over Internet Explorer, or Gmail over Hotmail. You get the idea.
To be a UI/UX designer, one needs the ability to analyze and predict human behaviour—how users interact with platforms and objects, as well as their succeeding tendencies. Usually, people coming from a background in interactive design do well in this job, with psychology as a plus.
Common tools include: Design and prototyping software (Freeware: InkScape, InVision), wireframing software (here is a list of free software).
Free tutorials: Here is a list.
In the same way that it’s hard for scientists to communicate their work for the general audience (since they are focusing on their research), developers and builders often neglect the communication aspect of a project since they have a ton of work to focus on.
And even if they did have the time for it, often this job is best left to those who have a certain level of mastery in the public relations field. Why? In the cryptocurrency sphere, one wrong word could take an entire project tumbling down in trading value. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean the project is failing, such PR disasters can be avoided by tapping on expert communicators instead.
In addition, expert communicators could actually mean the difference between a project full-speeding ahead, or potentially getting left behind by someone who might not even be better at implementation, just better at communications.
People with a background in writing or are simply eloquent and well-versed do well in this field, especially those who already have a background in public relations. An ability to understand and relay complex technical concepts without alienating the audience is a rare skill that can be applied to this job.
Common tools: Most of communications nowadays happen on social media platforms. Youtube and other video upload websites are also useful.
Free courses: There are lots of free courses online called massive open online courses (MOOC), such as this roster from Class Central. Coursera also offers free courses for those who are in need of financial assistance. You just need to apply for it.
This is a tricky one. Legislation is still catching up on blockchain technology and the laws vary from one territory to another. But lawyers who have familiarized themselves with the ecosystem and pursue this field of expertise have an advantage, as the blockchain and cryptocurrency boom is giving rise to several start-ups worldwide. And all of these start-ups are going to need legal counsel.
It would be easier for start-up founders if they don’t have to explain what a blockchain is, how it works, etc. every time they need to consult a lawyer.
Tools: no free tools or courses on this. Obviously, you will need to attend university, pass the bar, and get licensed first. If it helps, scholarships are starting to open up specifically for blockchain law, such as this one. Hopefully, more will follow.
Social Impact Hackers, innovators, and start-up founders
One of the main advocacies and one of the main reasons Bitcoin and the blockchain was made from the very beginning was financial inclusion. Later on, it was realized that the technology has massive implications for enabling access and serving the underserved.
It is up to members of the community to discover these possibilities and put them into action. These are the people who push and get things done. Think Elon Musk. A solid research on issues and solutions is part of the ideation phase.
Common tools: Usually just a pen and paper for notes and plans (or your phone or computer), a browser and internet connection for research.
Although there are lots of free resources online, the industry still needs in-person educators, especially those targeting businesses and users for rapid mass adoption of the technology. As mentioned earlier, social impact is one of the key benefits of blockchain technology. Unfortunately, the target beneficiaries of social impact projects may not be tech savvy—they might not even have access to a computer and a stable internet connection. But they can be benefited with minimal resource requirement, if they only knew what these platforms are for and how to use them.
Common tools: The product or project you are promoting, an audience, and well… your good, kind self.
Free courses: You don’t need a degree in education to be an educator. What you need is solid communication skills and an in-depth understanding of what you’re talking about and who you are talking to—how it benefits them, how to make it easier for them to make the transition, etc.
While some may be good at creating and building things, they may not necessarily be good at the money aspect of things. Whether we like it or not, money and cash flow is an important part of a project—whether it’s for profit or for advocacy. Bootstrapping a project and conceiving a strategy that ensures it survives before it can even thrive is not a skill everybody has. Believe it or not, what may be basic logic to a business developer may be entirely lost to project builders who are busy dreaming up in the clouds—not that it’s a bad thing. But it’s best to leave the business and money side of things to those who know it well
Common tools: Yourself, your communication and negotiation skills, strategies and innovative wit.