How to Become a Blockchain Developer
August 7th, 2019
Skilled blockchain developers are a scarce commodity, as precious as the bitcoins that reside on the distributed ledgers they maintain. Teach yourself one of the major blockchain programming languages and you’ll be set for life, though like anything worth having, this achievement won’t come easy. If you’re contemplating becoming a blockchain dev, here’s how to get started.
Learn Your Languages and Know Your Code
The crypto community is comprised of a series of tribes, each fiercely loyal to its anointed coin. Become a blockchain developer, however, and you’ll be able to transcend these artificial boundaries, because good code is good code, and if you can create bug-proof smart contracts and weed out vulnerabilities, you’ll never find yourself out of a job. Satoshi wrote Bitcoin in C++ and it remains one of the most popular and versatile blockchain programming languages to this day. Java, Python, Ruby, Rust, Solidity, Go, and C# are all to be found within the cryptosphere, however, anchoring crypto networks at the base layer.
If you’re intent on becoming a blockchain developer, but don’t know a compiler from a smart contract, a good place to start is by attending a hackathon. Cryptocurrency projects regularly hold these events to encourage developers to build upon their ecosystem and to inspire new use cases and applications. Aeternity’s Big Bang Event, scheduled to take place in Prague on September 20-21, for instance, will bring together 500 participants including developers, entrepreneurs, students, and big tech minds to discuss scaling solutions. Events such as these provide an ideal opportunity to meet like-minded souls and to pick up tips on how to enter the industry.
As Aeternity Crypto Foundation member Emin Mahrt observed, “Everyone is absolutely welcome to attend … We’d be very delighted to meet as many like-minded tech builders and curious dreamers as possible. You never know which of the people you meet will someday become the founder of an industry-breaking product.” Hackathons are a great place for emerging devs, aspiring devs and potential devs who are mooting the wisdom of becoming a full-time blockchain engineer.
The Pros and Cons of Formal Education
Do you have a degree? If you could go back in time, would you swap it for a more useful one – like Computer Science? Or would you ditch it altogether to be free of your student loan and to spend your time doing something more productive? Today, many would-be students are questioning the wisdom of formal education in an age where you can obtain the same learning for free from Youtube. While there are some fields, such as the social sciences, where academic learning presents the best route to career advancement, that’s not necessarily the case with tech. If you can code, no one cares where you acquired your skills. A prestigious alma mater means nothing when there’s debugging to be done and the clock is ticking.
While the wisdom of pursuing tertiary education is a matter for you to ponder, it’s worth noting that there are now university courses based around blockchain. These include Blockchain at Berkeley – a student-run organization that offers courses on and off campus – and Princeton’s Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies online course, which has attracted several hundred thousand signups to date. It’s free, but it’s also just 18 hours and – spoiler alert – becoming an expert blockchain developer takes longer than a weekend.
University may not be the fastest way to become a blockchain dev, but it shouldn’t be discounted altogether. Besides, there’s more than one way to use educational institutions as a springboard to a job in the cryptosphere. Yannis Stamelakos is a blockchain engineer at Tokencard. “I started my career in academia, doing research on embedded systems which led me to obtain a PhD in computer architecture, focusing on near-threshold computing for low-power manycore systems,” he told news.Bitcoin.com. “I was always fascinated by blockchain technology and so hardware wallets were the perfect entry point.”
From there, Stamelakos gained work with Provable, writing apps for Ledger’s Nano S, generating authenticity proofs that could be validated on-chain. “We were actually working on creating an ideal infrastructure for building oracles that could fetch data to the blockchain in a trustless way. This served as a perfect stepping stone for my role at TokenCard as a Blockchain Engineer,” he finished.
How to Become a Self-Taught Blockchain Developer
For autodidacts, going it alone is the best way to learn the ropes and then master them. If you’ve got the discipline to study and the willpower to avoid firing up crypto Twitter every time your concentration lapses, you’ll find the web to be awash with all the tools and tutorials it takes to become an accomplished cryptocurrency developer. Bitcoin dev Jameson Lopp’s resources page is rich in links to portals for genning up on BTC tech. Udemy’s video courses are also well worth checking out.
While there are ideological differences between Bitcoin Core and Bitcoin Cash, from an architectural perspective the two cryptocurrencies are very similar. Thus, the skills you learn from BTC-oriented sites are equally applicable to BCH. For BCH proponents, this knowledge can then be augmented by heading to the developer section of Bitcoin.com. The Learn section is the best place to start. Here, you’ll find step by step instructions on how to build Bitcoin Cash apps from scratch and can view real world examples that can be deployed as your own working copies from which to bootstrap your project. You’ll also find Mastering Bitcoin Cash, based on the acclaimed Mastering Bitcoin by Andreas M. Antonopoulos.
In the future, we’ll all be replaced by robots and AI, but in the here and now, there’s a demand for skilled humans to maintain the current generation of crypto networks and to create new applications and layered solutions built upon decentralized technologies. If that’s you, stop dreaming and start studying.