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How to Become a Blockchain Engineer?

Vance Wood

Vance Wood

April 10, 2024

7 min read

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For those with some proficiency in coding and a deep interest in Web3 technology, pursuing a career as a blockchain engineer could be an exciting prospect.

For this blog post, we explored how to become a blockchain engineer and where to acquire the necessary skills.

TL;DR: Blockchain developers (engineers) resolve challenges that range from managing entire decentralized networks to building secure and reliable applications on top of them. The job does not necessarily require a formal education, but experience and expertise in traditional software development and features and capabilities of Web3 technology.

What is a Blockchain Engineer?

Engineers in blockchain are professionals who can understand and implement decentralized solutions effectively. They typically have a strong background in software development along with specific knowledge and skills related to the technology itself. Largely, blockchain engineers start their careers as Web2 developers in gaming or fintech segments. Also, many blockchain engineers started their crypto journeys with the interest in cryptocurrency for personal usage.

What is a Blockchain Engineer’s Role?

Generally, when we talk about developers in this field, the distinction is made between two areas of focus:

1: Building the core technology

Involves designing the fundamental architecture of decentralized protocols, which serve as the groundwork for secure, transparent, and decentralized transactions to operate consistently within these systems.

2. Building on top of existing protocols

The other aspect is focused on utilizing existing technology to build applications and services. This includes writing programs and codes that implement cryptocurrencies, digital assets (NFTs), and applications.

Core developers generally require more experience and therefore make up a small part of the industry. Hence, our guide primarily targets beginner software engineers entering blockchain, helping to kickstart their learning journey.

Education and Background

While some educational institutions offer courses or programs related to decentralized technology, there isn't widespread acceptance of a dedicated blockchain engineer degree.

Moreover, a formal degree is not always required. However, a background in computer science, cryptography, or related fields is beneficial for aspiring Web3 developers. Just like in many traditional segments, the vast majority of blockchain developers are amateurs. As the entire segment is still in its infancy, it lacks the formal educational programs in colleges and universities.

Technical Skills

Since dApps are regular web frontend applications integrated with smart contracts, most blockchain software engineer skills stem from general web application programming: frontend and backend development, database management, and programming language proficiency.

At the same time, it’s important to understand unique aspects of Web3 application architecture.

For example, developers can directly interact with the networks without relying heavily on the backend. That’s why front-end technologies are one of the most powerful things to learn for Web3.

technical_skills_for_blockchain_developers_diagram

Industry-Specific Skills

While web developer skills provide a solid starting point for transitioning into a Web3 software engineer role, proficiency in working with dApps requires more competencies:

  • Writing Contracts: Smart contract languages, frameworks (Hardhat, Truffle, Foundry), and libraries (OpenZeppelin);
  • Integrating contract functionalities with UI: web3 libraries(web3.js, web3.py, ethers.js);
  • Interacting with decentralized networks: APIs and SDKs.

For a more straightforward method of mastering these aspects, explore Remix IDE with our guide. It allows users to build, test, and deploy smart contracts without the need to download any additional software or tools.

Programming Languages

For convenience, let's categorize programming languages a blockchain engineer may want to learn into three categories:

# Category Most Used Languages Description
1 Contract Development Solidity (Ethereum and EVM), Rust (Solana) Used to create code executed on decentralized networks; usually specific to the protocol
2 Front-end JavaScript, Python Help build the UI that interact with decentralzied networks
3 Back-end JavaScript, Python, Rust, Golang Facilitate communication between the frontend and blockchain networks

JavaScript is the primary language used in most dApp project frontends, owing to its compatibility with existing frameworks, libraries, and tools. While less common, Python is also suitable for specific cases.

When it comes to smart contracts, it's often recommended to start by mastering Solidity used not only on Ethereum but other compatible chains such as BSC, Avalanche, and Polygon. However, learning Rust can open opportunities to work on projects outside the Ethereum ecosystem like Solana or Polkadot.

Languages most commonly used in backends and supported by Ethereum and other platforms are again Python and JavaScript. Rust and Golang are considered more advanced options.

Industry Knowledge

Understanding the value one can create is the first important step in learning how to become a blockchain engineer. This requires a deep understanding of how the technology works: from fundamental principles of decentralization, data structures, basic cryptography, and hashing, to their use cases and applications.

Numerous free tutorials available online provide step-by-step guidance on understanding general concepts, leading to building basic Web3 applications. Some notable examples are:

  1. Coursera and Udemy free courses;
  2. Ethernaut, a Solidity learning platform by OpenZeppelin;
  3. 12-hour YouTube course by Dapp University;
  4. freeCodeCamp video lessons.

For more structured learning, roadmap.sh provides a community-curated collection of online resources and articles for self-education on various topics.

Blockchain Development Platforms

All decentralized networks rely on the same principles, best learned by understanding how Bitcoin and Ethereum are built and function. Mastering these two giant development platforms, aka chains, often holds the key to adapting to other protocols.

Ethereum, which has become nearly synonymous with the industry standard for application development, has plentiful materials and resources to learn, with the official Ethereum.org website as a good starting point. Proficiency in Ethereum allows developers to work in various EVM-based blockchains including the likes of Polygon, Optimism, Arbitrum, and so on. As well, Bitcoin programmers can leverage Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Dash or other similar blockchains.

Ethereum’s_guide_for_beginners

Image source

Participating in Blockchain Projects

Web3 is an industry where success is determined not by technical skills only, but also by the developer’s reputation within the community. Therefore, building a positive presence can open doors to job offers, partnerships, and collaborative projects.

The most crucial aspect of learning how to become a blockchain engineer is actively applying new knowledge, where participating in crypto-related projects offers invaluable hands-on experience. In Web3 development, contributing to the open source ecosystem is also a must for top developers. This contribution might be confirmed in forms of DAO, open source framework, library, non-profit dApps or wallet, etc.

Career Opportunities and Growth

Once you've mastered the basics, the world of career growth awaits. Blockchain engineers can move in different directions becoming:

  • Smart contract specialists;
  • Full-stack developers;
  • Specialists in spheres like DeFi, NFT, or GameFi.

Practical experience and in-depth knowledge in the chosen area enable pursuing more specialized roles.

On a Final Note

Blockchain engineering is a complicated yet exciting sphere to try in 2024, still moderate in popularity but already experiencing a shortage of skilled specialists. Provided there are still many problems to solve and interesting things to build on top of this new technology, it is yet to inspire many beginner developers to contribute.

At the same time, working in the Web3 segment unlocks interesting earning opportunities as salaries here are typically higher compared to that of Web2 coding. Also, while working in blockchain programming, developers can contribute to the emerging segment.

GetBlock solves one of the most crucial problems for dApp developers: Get seamless access to Web3 infrastructure and connect your application to 50+ networks in one click. Sign up now and experience the service for free.

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FAQ

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Vance Wood

Vance Wood

April 10, 2024

7 min read

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