How this one word can get you a high-paying job

  • Companies are scrambling to find applicants who understand blockchain.
  • Job listings related to the technology on LinkedIn are surging, with more than 2,000 current positions available.
  • Websites such as Crypto Jobs List and Block Tribe match employers and employees in this budding field.
Pattanaphong Khuankaew | EyeEm | Getty Images

It's not every day an invention like blockchain comes along that people predict will "change the world" and become "bigger than the internet."

And before these pronouncements become reality, companies are scrambling to find applicants who understand the technology.

Blockchain is basically a digital ledger of transactions that anyone on a network can see.

On LinkedIn, job listings related to the record-keeping innovation are surging, with more than 2,000 current positions available in the United States. Websites such as Crypto Jobs List and Block Tribe connect employers and employees in this budding field.

Blockchain has recently climbed its way to first place on a list of the 5,000 fastest-growing skills on freelance platform Upwork.

"People with three to five years of experience — they're looking at half a million dollars." -Katheryn Griffith Hill, lead recruiter at Blockchain Developers

"It's an uncharted, highly talked about technology that companies are trying to figure out how to leverage," said Rich Pearson, senior vice president of marketing at Upwork.

Interest in blockchain jobs has quadrupled in the past year, said Andrew Flowers, an economist at employment search engine Indeed.

"Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are some of the terms that have risen the fastest over the last few years from the job seekers point of view," Flowers said.

Hiring in the blockchain arena are both start-ups and older companies now embracing the new technology.

IBM is looking for a "Blockchain Technical Solution Architect." A software company, actually called Blockchain, is looking for a receptionist. "For the first time in modern history, the $13 trillion financial services industry is being modernized," it reads in the "About Us" section. "Blockchain is at the forefront of this revolution."

For all the opportunities created, however, there will also inevitably be many jobs lost by the innovation, warned David Yermack, a business and law professor at New York University.

Since blockchain is a decentralized system of transactions, it's expected to pose a threat to the middleman role that banks play. It's also a record-keeping system, possibly endangering any jobs that are spent processing paperwork and information.

What's more, people are forecasting the information system to upend industries including publishing, art, health care and real estate.

"This is a technology that will destroy a lot of middle-class jobs," said Yermack. "What those people are going to do, I have no idea."

Those predictions may explain, in part, why more than 200 students enrolled in Yermack's course this semester, "Digital Currency, Blockchains, and the Future of Financial Services."

"Students are trying to have relevant skills for the job market," Yermack said. "You would take a risk not studying this."

His students will likely find themselves in a favorable position later on.

There are currently 14 blockchain developer positions available for every one blockchain developer, said Katheryn Griffith Hill, lead recruiter at Blockchain Developers, a staffing company.

"If you have someone with two-plus years of experience in blockchain, you could see their salary be $200,000 or above," Griffith Hill said. "People with three to five years of experience — they're looking at half a million dollars."

Know nothing about blockchain? Don't count yourself out 

Sorbetto | Getty Images

Resist the temptation to kick yourself if you've been blocking out all things blockchain. It's not too late.

Griffith Hill said even showing employers that you've taken some interest in the new technology will bolster your chances of landing a blockchain-related job.

"Many start-ups are looking for people willing to learn," she said. And the positions in the field also extend beyond developers, to communication, administrative and leadership roles.

There are a number of online resources that can help you understand blockchain, said Emin Gun Sirer, an associate professor of computer science at Cornell University who writes about bitcoin.

The University of Oxford, for example, offers a six-week online class that promises to deliver "a comprehensive understanding of what blockchain is and how it works."

There are also training programs on blockchain that you can enroll in and which will leave you with a certificate that will stand out on your resume.

You can watch a 12-part lecture on cryptocurrency technology given at Princeton online for free, or check out IBM's primer on blockchain essentials.

"There are lots of opportunities by which people who are already into their careers can change what they're doing and join this revolution," Gun Sirer said.

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