Knowing how Web3, crypto, and blockchain works is way more than just a hobby or dinner party conversation-starter — it’s a marketable skill that can help your career in tech.
The trouble is, reading job descriptions for roles in the Web3 space is not super straightforward, because the terminology and field is so new, explains Kenny Rogers, Developer Advocate at the Stacks Foundation, an organization that provides tools and resources for people to learn about Stacks technology.
If you envision having a career in Web3, you’ll need to understand how a blockchain works, what it’s actually good for, and what the long-term vision is for the technology. In our new free course Introduction to Blockchain and Crypto, you’ll learn how blockchains and their underlying components function, and get to work on a capstone project writing an idea for a dapp (decentralized application).
Keep in mind that, even with this new swath of technology and skills, traditional tech careers like Web Developer or Product Manager are not automatically in jeopardy because of Web3 and the world of crypto. Rather, Web3 is “just another layer of the internet that's emerging right now that provides new opportunities both for developers to build on if they want to, and for users to use applications in a different way,” Kenny says.
Here’s an overview of the types of work you can do in the blockchain and Web3 space, and the technical skills that will help you stand out in the job market.
Blockchain Infrastructure Engineer
For a quick refresher, when we talk about a “blockchain,” we’re referring to a network of computers that all host, maintain, and create new blocks of data that are chained together using cryptography. Put another way, a blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger system with information about transactions that’s available to anyone on the network.
A Blockchain Infrastructure Engineer is someone who works on the actual blockchain protocol itself. For instance, a Blockchain Infrastructure Engineer working on Stacks would need to know the programming language Rust, and would primarily contribute to the open-source codebase that actually runs the Stacks chain itself. A Blockchain Infrastructure Engineer for Ethereum might write code in multiple languages, like C++, Python, Go, or Solidity.
The exact scope of a Blockchain Infrastructure Engineer’s role really depends on the specific organization or project; they might also be responsible for writing smart contracts to build the chain’s consensus mechanism, Kenny says. Most Blockchain Infrastructure Engineers need computer science knowledge under their belt in order to understand the architecture, security, and high-level design protocols that go into creating a blockchain, he says.
Web3 Developer or Blockchain Software Developer
Another role that you might come across is a Web3 Developer or Blockchain Software Developer, which is anyone who builds applications that utilize the blockchain and its back-end technology. Although there may be overlap between this role and that of a Blockchain Infrastructure Engineer, they tend to be very different jobs, Kenny says.
Smart Contract Developer
A Smart Contract Developer writes code for smart contracts, which are immutable, publicly accessible chunks of code that live on a blockchain. For example, a financial institution in the DeFi (decentralized finance) field might hire a Smart Contract Developer to write code for smart financial contracts.
The programming language that a Smart Contract Developer uses depends on the blockchain ecosystem that they work with. Some common languages for blockchain development include Solidity, Rust, and Clarity.
The need for beautifully designed and functional websites or applications doesn’t go away in the metaverse. If you’re a Front-End Developer, there are Web3 jobs out there for you where you’d primarily be responsible for building the front-end and user interface of a dapp (decentralized application) that interacts with smart contracts or blockchains, Kenny says.
As so many companies shift into Web3, there’s a huge gap right now in the user experience of Web3, Kenny says. “People are still trying to tack on normal Web 2.0 interfaces onto Web3, but it works so differently that we need UX people to come up with the correct ways to interact with some of this stuff,” he says.
Although you don’t necessarily need to know how to code a smart contract to be successful in a front-end role, it’s important to understand the fundamentals of blockchain technology because you’ll be interfacing with them closely, Kenny adds. Learn more about the skills you need to become a Front-End Developer here.
Blockchain technology presents a new set of security challenges and potential vulnerabilities. In August, the FBI issued a public service announcement alerting people to an increase in cyber criminals “exploiting vulnerabilities in the smart contracts governing DeFi platforms to steal cryptocurrency, causing investors to lose money.”
Cybersecurity Specialists who can identify and respond to blockchain security issues are key to establishing a safer and more secure Web3. A Smart Contract Auditor is someone who reviews code in smart contracts looking for potential security exploits, like reentrancy and access control, and provides security recommendations. Penetration Testers (aka “Pen Testers”), who mimic real-world attacks to identify an organization’s vulnerabilities, are also needed for blockchain and Web3 projects.
Developers in these roles need to be well-versed in the intricacies of smart contracts and blockchain development (plus reading someone else’s code) in order to be able to pinpoint possible vulnerabilities and come up with solutions. Cybersecurity Specialists typically have intermediate- to expert-level experience working as a Smart Contract Developer, Kenny adds.
VR/AR Game Developer
The gaming industry is already experimenting with Web3 and blockchain technology — for example, gamers can use NFTs to achieve ownership of the digital assets that they earn in a game. Then there’s the metaverse, which is an exciting area for Game Developers who are programming and designing games that incorporate VR/AR technology.
Game development companies and brands hoping to expand into Web3 need Metaverse Architects and UX Designers who can dream up and build the 3D virtual environments where the games take place. (FYI: Metaverse is one of those terms that has multiple meanings. Sometimes it’s used to describe an ecosystem of Web3 tech that’s not limited by physical boundaries. Other times, a metaverse refers to a virtual world.)
If you're a Game Developer interested in Web3, you don’t necessarily need to have blockchain-specific experience with smart contract development, Kenny says. “You can take your game development skills and just apply them to a Web3 game company.”
There are lots of opportunities for Web3 jobs that have to do with education, outreach, and developer relations, Kenny says. As a Developer Advocate, Kenny “makes sure that developers are happy and successful building on Stacks,” he says. That might entail hosting workshops, writing tutorials, or having one-on-one calls with developers to work through specific issues.
Kenny’s advice for getting a job as a Developer Advocate is to start compiling a portfolio of your written tutorials, blogs, or even videos. “You can build up a really solid Developer Advocate portfolio just from taking the initiative to learn things on your own, and then create content based on those things that you're learning,” he says.
Job search tips from a crypto recruiter
Emily Landon, aka “The Crypto Recruiter,” helps tech professionals get jobs in crypto, blockchain, and Web3. Here are some of her tips for standing out if you want to have a career in Web3:
- Focus on your transferable experience: Keep in mind that everyone is relatively new to Web3, so it’s okay if most of your work experience has been primarily in Web 2.0. Emphasize the transferable skills that you’ve honed as a developer, Emily says. For example, you could talk about how you’ve had to learn new languages quickly, or pivot technologies for projects in the past, so you’re confident in your ability to get up to speed on Web3 topics.
- Prepare thoughtful questions to ask: One way to showcase that you’re enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the Web3 landscape is to do your research on the company you want to work for, and ask questions about its competitors, Emily says. “Companies want to hire people that want to work there — doing your research validates your interest in the company," she says.
- Bold programming languages on your resume: As you write your resume, bold the name of the programming language or technology that you know, Emily says. “HR spends 3 to 30 seconds looking at your resume, so you want the keywords to really pop out. The goal is for HR to immediately think, Perfect, they check all the boxes. Let's have a call.”
- Bookmark Web3 job boards: Setting alerts for Web3 and blockchain jobs on LinkedIn and Google is a good place to start, but you might have better luck browsing Web3-specific job boards. These are some of Emily’s favorites: Crypto Careers, Web3 Jobs, CryptoJobsList, and useWeb3.
Feeling inspired to dive into Web3 topics? Take a look at our new free course Intro to Blockchain and Crypto. It’ll give you a high-level, yet thorough, introduction to decentralization, Web3, NFTs, smart contracts, and more. Then, be sure to check out our full course catalog to round out your tech stack and get ready to land a job in tech.