Cryptocurrency might be a mouthful, but we bet you’ve heard a lot about bitcoin.
For the tecchies among you, the new and emerging field of cryptocurrency jobs is well worth exploring as this could represent a whole new field of work for the future.
In this article, we explore what cryptocurrency is, how it works and what cryptocurrency jobs could be out there for you. We look at non-technical roles in the field as well.
'Heard of bitcoin? Find out what cryptocurrency is and about the next generation of jobs for tecchies and non-tecchies alike'
What is cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is online money.
Normally, money is controlled by a central authority like the Bank of England. Cryptocurrency is not controlled centrally. Instead, cryptocurrency transactions are verified by a complicated puzzle solved by a computer – this is how it gets its name, because these puzzles are a form of encryption.
When the puzzles are solved, new cryptocurrency is created.
The most famous type of cryptocurrency is called bitcoin.
Take a look at this infographic, which explains cryptocurrencies in a fairly easy-to-understand way:
How does cryptocurrency work?
First, take a look at this video. Don’t worry if you don’t understand it, we’ll unpack some of the ideas underneath.
For money to work, you need a payment network with accounts, balances and transactions to stop the same money being spent twice (known as double spending). This is usually done centrally.
For a long time, the idea of a decentralised money system was just a dream because no one could solve the problem of how you get round double spending. Cryptocurrency was the answer to this, and it was discovered by accident by a Japanese man called Satoshi Nakamoto who invented bitcoin in 2008.
Cryptocurrency involves a network of computers peers – this network is therefore known as a peer-to-peer (p2p) network. Every peer has a complete record of every payment made in that cryptocurrency.
For a new cryptocurrency payment to be made successfully, it has to be confirmed. When a new payment is made, this is shared with the entire p2p network in order to be confirmed.
Cryptocurrency miners confirm payments by decoding (or decrypting) a cryptologic puzzle. Decryption creates a new unit of the cryptocurrency (e.g. a new bitcoin) which is awarded to the miner who decoded the puzzle. People don’t decode the puzzle by hand – their computer does it for them within cryptocurrency software which they have installed.
When a payment is confirmed, this is turned into a piece of information called a block which is then added to an unchanging line of blocks known as a blockchain.
Now you’ve read about what cryptocurrency is and how it is created, have a look at this infographic which will help you remember what you’ve read:
What cyptocurrency jobs are out there?
According to an analysis by jobs board Monster, cryptocurrency jobs are on the up. Monster found that jobs mentioning “cryptocurrency,” “bitcoin,” or “blockchain” almost doubled between 2017 and 2018.
Cryptocurrency jobs are usually in companies trying to make money by creating new bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies, or in financial services companies advising people on where to invest their cash. Some jobs are however in companies developing new cryptocurrencies, a process known as an Initial Coin Offering or ICO.
This means that although some cryptocurrency jobs are technical, many are on the investment or business side of things and do not require technical expertise.
- Data scientist: Review large amounts of payment data and make recommendations to software engineers on how to improve user experience.
- Software engineer: Create programs and apps used within cryptocurrency networks.
- Cyber security specialist: Although cryptocurrencies are extremely hard to hack into, cyber security is essential to make sure systems are watertight.
- Business development officer: Investigate ways of creating new commercial opportunities using cryptocurrencies.
- Financial analyst: Look at how cryptocurrencies are performing on financial markets in order to make recommendations to clients about where to invest their money.
- Research analyst: Find out about trends in the field of cryptocurrency to inform the public, investors, business and governments about the future of cryptocurrency.
What experience and qualifications do you need?
This depends whether you go down a technical or non-technical route.
Most technical specialists need good programming skills, in languages such as Python, C or C++.
You won’t necessarily need to have experience of working with cryptocurrencies before because employers are aware that this is an emerging field and many will be willing to train you on the job. Enthusiasm is a key attribute, and experience in a similar field (such as web or app development or computer programming) will be beneficial.
Qualifications such as a degree in computer science, maths, physics or another highly analytical subject will be an advantage for anyone looking to move straight from education into this field of work.
Learning to code in your spare time is a great way to show employers you are interested in this area of work. Join or set up a coding club at school/college to get experience of coding.
For some of the more commercially or business-orientated roles, A-levels and ideally a degree in a subject such as economics or business will put you in a good position to pursue a career connected with cryptocurrency.
What skills do you need?
For a technical role, you will need:
For all roles, you will need:
What will I get paid?
Salaries vary dramatically depending on the line of work you go into.
According to the website technojobs, the average salary of a blockchain developer in the UK is £68,000. You are unlikely to start at this level.
To find out more about jobs in tech, check out our IT & The Internet Career Zone.
Images: Lead image via Wikimedia Commons