How To Get A Job In Crypto (And Should You?)

Whether it’s a platform for collectable kittens or “blockchain for dentists”, crypto startups are popping up everywhere.But how do you get a job in crypto?

And if you do happen to have the right stack, should you?

The crypto industry is in a similar state as the internet was in its early days – there are still many technical components that need to be built before pure ubiquity and mass adoption becomes the norm. But as a result, the novelty of this new technology has resulted in a marked uptick in both job postings and interest from developers.

Recent Google Trends show interest in crypto jobs skyrocketing this past year:

Look no further than London Blockchain Week. The event hosted annually courts industry leaders such as IBM, BTCC and IOTA foundation as headliners – just to name a few. Over 50 international companies ranging from VC firms to burgeoning startups have assembled to discuss the future of the industry and gather new London talent.

As a developer, what do you need to know?

Blockchain technology is not a difficult concept to understand for most developers. Most complications and confusion arises from industry-specific concepts such as: mining, peer-to-peer networks, hashing, etc. These types of added layers are there to provide further features built on top of the essential blockchain technology.   

New crypto companies aren’t expecting their new hires to already be blockchain wizards. But a general understanding of the underlying technologies and basic concepts of the crypto industry are a necessity before applying to any blockchain job.

We’ve put together 3 primers that should give you everything you need to pursue a job in crypto:

Primer 1: Crypto Job Roles

The majority of talent pools from a traditional software engineering background. But this also includes blockchain engineers, data scientists, backend developers, dApp fullstack developers and many more.

A full stack developer should have a broad understanding of the following:

  • JavaScript
  • Node.js
  • React.js
  • Python
  • Blockchain
  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Mysql
  • Sql
  • Php
  • C++
  • Ruby on rails

Note that different languages and skills will vary accordingly to role. A front-end developer building interfaces will obviously need to have experience in UX/UI design and JavaScript, but would not be expected to also be experts in backend database infrastructure.

Most developers won’t have to be familiar with specific blockchain technologies. However, this may change in the future if new abstraction libraries such as BitcoinJS gain traction and become industry standards. Languages and frameworks used in the development of Ethereum (dApps) will likely become a number one priority for any type of crypto engineering job.

Primer 2: How The Blockchain Differs From A Typical Application Stack

Decentralised applications (“dApps”) have their source code run on a decentralised peer-to-peer network of computers rather than one central server:


DApps have been around since the start of P2P networks and are the root technology that allows for software not to be controlled by any single entity. Take for example a regular app, which is simply frontend code and the server – conversely, an Ethereum dApp is based on a decentralised P2P network overlaid with the blockchain.    

Take a look at this bitcoin example:

The blockchain has paved the way for development within an open sourced environment and with decentralised protocols that are no longer reliant on any single controlling entity.

Most developers are already familiar with this system, albeit one they might not pay too much attention to. All internet applications are built on top of decentralised tech such as HTTP and TCP/IP. The most important thing to take note of is that the system is accessible by anyone. Using the bitcoin chart as an example, you’ll see that the bitcoin protocol is decentralised and also part of the shared layer.

Primer 3: APIs To Familiarise Yourself With

Whilst candidates aren’t expected to be deeply familiar with each of these APIs, they do provide a useful starting point as a point of comparison:

Web3.js

Web3.js is the Ethereum compatible JavaScript API and implements the Generic JSON RPC spec. It makes a great starting point for developers new to blockchain as it doesn’t abstract away the detail, as which may be the case with a framework (eg. Truffle). If you’re looking to build something on the blockchain before your first crypto interview, it’s fairly simple to get going and create a basic voting app with it.

Coinbase API

One of the prime financial exchanges has opened up their API to make it easier to integrate bitcoin, litecoin and ethereum into both new and pre existing apps. This API gives developers the ability to generate wallets and addresses and create apps that can send and receive crypto.  

Blockchain APIs

From the Luxembourg based company, Blockchain, you can create your own bitcoin apps and add the functionality to websites for the ability to receive bitcoin payments. It’s a great free way to start simple apps and familiarising yourself with querying for blockchain data. As a sidenote, Blockchain are currently hiring on Snap.hr (24/01/2018).

Is a job in crypto really that different?

Being a crypto developer is similar to any other development job, but with the added caveat of open source tech being primary and the blockchain being the foundation of your work.

Things start to get difficult and down right esoteric when you get into the bare bones math of cryptography. If Elliptic curve functions and Lenstra factorisation are commonplace words in your vocabulary – then consider a job as an applied Data Scientist or in a R&D environment as a Cryptography Researcher.  

The majority of developers don’t need to understand these concepts – just as you wouldn’t need to be able to read binary in order to program. In a nutshell, crypto developing is often just accessing new APIs on top of a decentralised layer.  

Should you get a job in crypto?

Once you’ve managed to get over the initial barriers to entry, a job in the industry could be a promising career. The trick is finding a suitable company that matches your skills.

Here are some of the potential upsides:

  • Opportunity for receiving instant liquidity in new coins for companies offering initial coin offerings (ICOs).
  • First adopter advantage as you gain experience in a new industry.
  • Higher paying salary for an increasingly competitive field.
  • Strong interest for qualified candidates.

However, there are downsides also.

Crypto is the wild west in more ways than one. In an environment filled with volatility, speculation, misinformation and general complexity – it’s often difficult to see through to what really matters.

Start-ups are already inherently risky. Crypto startups lack clearly drawn legal precedents and there are risks for investors, workers and everyone involved.

There are a few things you should ask yourself as a job seeker in order to cut through the sea of chaos and find a suitable position:

  • Is there a viable product?
  • Can my skills translate into crypto environment?
  • Is there a good reason that this company has entered into the crypto field?

As Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Cryptocurrency company Ripple has said:

“If there is a usefulness of a token and it has utility, then people are going to demand a usage for that. But don’t retrofit your business to try to offer a token to raise capital because the traditional capital markets are not interested in what you are doing.”

If you believe in the technology and the company you’re looking for is innovating in the space, then getting a job in crypto is for you. Due diligence, research and legitimacy must be at the forefront before jumping into the wild world of crypto.

If you're looking for your next job as a software engineer, have companies apply to you by adding your profile to Snap.hr.