With the recent upswing in demand for blockchain developers, you might think there would be more people ready to fill this niche. However, there is a serious shortage of blockchain developers, to the point where some employers are paying double the previous going rate to hire junior developers straight out of bootcamp and some qualified freelance developers can charge up to $90,000 for creating an especially complex smart contract.
Maybe it’s not too surprising that developers can get rich off cryptocurrencies and blockchain. The value of Satoshi Nakamoto’s bitcoins is estimated to be in the billions. Charlie Lee sold all his Litecoin at its ATH of $375.29, citing the need to avoid a “conflict of interest”. Blockchain is a new technology that had a market value of US$411.5 million in 2017 and is expected to grow to a market value of $7.6837 billion by 2022. Blockchain developers are simply not being trained quickly enough to keep pace.
Is This Even A Problem?
Is this a problem that requires a solution? Maybe it does if those interested in blockchain want to deal with the fact that developers who have limited amounts of time have to pick and choose which jobs they are willing to take on. It’s natural for them to choose the ones that pay well and still fall within the scope of their abilities. Some jobs will inevitably go undone if businesses cannot afford the price necessary to attract the attention of the already-overstretched number of qualified developers.
On the flip side, blockchain developers are well within their rights to refuse to undervalue their work. When they work their way up to the point where they can pick and choose which jobs they want to bid on, they’re just acknowledging that flipping burgers at McDonald’s might have been a fine job for teenagers looking to earn extra spending money, but as adults, they prefer not to work 80-hour weeks just to make ends meet. They earned the option to have a better work-life balance by actually going out and studying the more useful features of Satoshi Nakamoto’s creation.
Solutions In The Works
The natural solution is not to complain about the high salaries that top blockchain developers can earn, but to train more talented blockchain developers. Many universities are adding classes on cryptocurrency and blockchain because they know that the potential for high salaries for blockchain specialists will attract young students. Organizations like Wyncode Academy can give people the basics they need to understand Blockchain, and then they can decide where they want to go from there.
As Wyncode Academy’s Juha Mikkola put it in a recent interview, “Our real goal is that once you finished the program, you can decide what you find the most interesting. The fact that we’re seeing people very excited about cryptocurrency, I think is getting them into realizing coding is the way that I can really contribute and be a part of this field. Seeing our graduates go into that is awesome.”
Eventually, more qualified blockchain developers will hit the job market and the reduced prices caused by increasing competition will make it possible for even a small startup to afford blockchain apps. That’s simply the principle of supply and demand that some people might remember if they haven’t snoozed through their economics elective in college.
Yes, it will mean that not all of them will be able to afford to live in Silicon Valley, but that might be less of a problem than you’d think with the concept of working remotely on the upswing. According to a survey conducted by the Freelancers’ Union and Upwork, an estimated 53 million Americans work as freelancers, which means that they can work from just about anywhere. Working for a Silicon Valley startup while cooling your heels anywhere in the world where the cost of living is reasonable will soon be considered the norm rather than the exception if it isn’t already.
How long will it take before very few developers can get away with charging $90,000 for a smart contract? It’s hard to tell until the pace at which qualified developers are being trained starts to catch up with the explosive growth of the blockchain industry. Smaller companies may have to either be patient, or learn how to take advantage of one of blockchain’s strengths — the ability to handle decentralization — so that they can share both the costs and the rewards of developing and maintaining blockchain apps with other small businesses. The wait will be worth it when enough blockchain developers hit the job market and fewer blockchain-related positions go unfilled.