A new study carried out by Glassdoor Economic Research shows impressive results for a growing industry in a much rather different way it used to: the number of employments it provides.
Nonetheless, blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies have surged in popularity in the last year, evolving from a niche technological curiosity into an explosive financial market worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have quickly gained wider appeal from amateur enthusiasts, venture capitalists and major corporations hoping to capitalize on the technology and assets’ growth.
While the applications of blockchain technology are diverse, most of the recent interest has focused on cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies utilize blockchain to perform transactions without the need of a formal authority (like a central bank), an idea that has appealed to proponents of privacy and democratic technology. Aside from the underlying technological innovation, cryptocurrencies have also become well known for being highly volatile. For example, the exchange rate for a Bitcoin ranged from a low of $755 to a high of $20,089 in 2017.
As more employers become interested and invest in the technology, the professionalization of the space has accelerated as well. Are blockchain and cryptocurrency jobs as volatile as the currency’s daily value? What employers are hiring these roles, in what U.S. cities and what is the pay? Glassdoor’s dataset of millions of job postings grants a unique view of how the rise of cryptocurrency and blockchain have been reflected in the job market.
How Many Blockchain Job Openings Are There?
As of August 2018, we found 1,775 unique blockchain-related job openings in the United States. By comparison, at this time last year, there were only 446 similar job listings, representing a 300 percent year-over-year increase.
The surge in open jobs has well outpaced the 200 percent increase in value that cryptocurrencies have undergone since August 2017. Despite the price volatility over the last year, continued growth in job openings suggests that blockchain employers remain confident in the market opportunity and continue to make long-term investments in their teams.
Where Are Jobs Located?
It’s no surprise that the U.S. financial and tech capitals, New York City and San Francisco, respectively, represent a disproportionate share of blockchain-related jobs at 24 percent and 21 percent of total job openings. San Jose (6 percent), Chicago (4 percent) and Seattle (4 percent), also known for their financial and technical expertise, round out the top five cities for blockchain job openings. Altogether, these cities constitute 59 percent of open blockchain-related jobs in the U.S.
While most of these jobs are concentrated in the top 15 cities, the remaining 21 percent are distributed across the rest of the country. By comparison, in artificial intelligence (AI), another high-growth technical field, job openings are much more geographically concentrated with only 13 percent of jobs found outside the top 15 metros.
Internationally, the story is similar with many jobs concentrated in major financial and technology hubs. Amongst international metros (not including the U.S.), London topped the list with 189 blockchain-related job openings, followed by Singapore, Toronto and Hong Kong.
What Roles Are In Demand?
The most in-demand blockchain roles employers are hiring for today on Glassdoor are predominantly technical and engineering roles. Software engineer is the clear winner, accounting for 19 percent of total job listings, followed by more specialized roles like front-end engineer to technology architect. In total, engineering, technology and science roles comprise a whopping 55 percent of job openings and suggest there’s still demand for skilled workers who can advance fundamental blockchain technology.
While many of the open roles are quite technical, recent Glassdoor research has shown that as tech companies scale up, their need for non-tech roles grows too. In our data, we see that business roles are well-represented with analyst relations manager being the second-most common job posting (5 percent), followed by product manager (4 percent), risk analyst (3 percent) and marketing manager (2 percent).
Surprisingly, more traditional finance roles like traders and investment analysts don’t feature in the top 15 occupations — perhaps pointing to a focus on the non-financial applications of blockchain technologies or the hesitance of more traditional institutional investors to break into the cryptocurrency space.
Who Is Hiring?
As hiring for blockchain roles rises, which employers today are building teams around blockchain or digital currency? Several of the top-hiring employers are startups looking to expand rapidly. ConsenSys, for example, has over 200 related job listings despite having less than 1,000 employees today. Other startups like Coinbase, Figure and Kraken are likewise hoping to build up their expertise, with dozens of openings each.
By contrast, IBM, a large company with over 300,000 employees, is tied with ConsenSys in the number of blockchain-related job openings. Other large consulting or professional services firms like Accenture and KPMG are also hiring these roles to advise their clients on how to apply new blockchain technologies. Large technology companies like Oracle are also expanding their blockchain teams, though there is a notable absence of major technology companies like Facebook, Google and Apple.
How Much Do Blockchain Jobs Pay?
Using the technology behind Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth tool, we can assign a salary estimate to these open blockchain jobs. Overall, we found a median base salary of $84,884 per year for open blockchain-related jobs on Glassdoor. That’s a staggering $32,423 (61.8 percent) over the U.S. median salary of $52,461 per year, according to Glassdoor’s August 2018 Local Pay Report. Due to the diverse mixture of jobs available, salaries range from $36,046 per year all the way up to $223,667 per year.
The reason we see higher salaries for blockchain jobs is due to the location and nature of the jobs available. High cost-of-living cities like New York City and San Francisco dominate the blockchain job market and employers there must offer higher salaries in order to attract talent. Additionally, high skill occupations like software engineers already demand high salaries, compounding this location effect. After accounting for those effects, the high salaries we see for these roles are not unusual. For example, in New York City, the median pay for all software engineers was $104,630 per year in August 2018, essentially equal to the $102,104 median salary we see for blockchain-related jobs of the same occupation and location.
The nascent cryptocurrency industry is fragile with regulatory uncertainty and extreme price volatility threatening to derail growth. Industry followers have fretted as the cryptocurrency market capitalization has dropped over 50 percent in 2018, but focusing myopically on the short-term can ignore strong long-term trends. While financial markets are volatile in the short-run, investing in human capital is a much stronger signal and increased hiring is a robust indicator of long-term interest.
Companies both large and small have been willing to invest for the long-term in blockchain by expanding hiring over the last year. Our analysis found that companies are hiring primarily for technical roles, requiring engineering experience and coding skills, and many of these job openings are centered in cities that are already major talent hubs for technical or financial expertise. Both factors are contributing to pay exceeding median salaries elsewhere — another strong indicator of long-term investment.
While the ultimate staying power of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies remains to be seen, the blockchain job market seems primed to continue its rapid growth into the near future.
This article was first posted on Glassdoor.