Cryptocurrency: What to know, how to learn in order to succeed
Posted on
April 18, 2018

Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part series. Read Part 1

Certification is only tangentially an option in the cryptocurrency realm, but there are other ways to break in.

Cryptocurrency is growing in popularity and — eventually — could be used to pay for almost everything. Are there opportunities for a savvy IT professional with an interest in the field to become involved? Rest assured that your place in this future can be secured with the right knowledge.

A quick search of Indeed shows hundreds of jobs, all in large cities, ranging from crypto researcher to VP of Blockchain. These postings are all backed by big spenders looking to cash in on their own crypto, or have someone set up a huge mining operation.

To take advantage of this opportunity yourself, you will need to know more than you can learn by, say, watching a YouTube video on “How to become a rich miner.” There are jobs in crypto that call for skills from just about ANY area of IT. Or if you want to venture outside the IT realm, look for jobs in design, marketing, UI, UX and simple facilities management.

There are decided advantages to taking these jobs: Better salaries, for example. Most crypto jobs offer compensation that’s about 20 percent above the average set by jobs that require comparable IT skills. There’s also much more opportunity to work remotely, with more 70 percent of the crypto jobs on Indeed offering remote work or work-from-home options.

Many employers offer bonuses of personal crypto holdings, which you would need to weigh carefully. If you really believe in the currency, then you could potentially even talk to the company about taking your entire salary in crypto payments.

Whatever role you choose, whether it be in business, marketing, or the hands-on IT guts of the thing, there is an incredible upside to working for a cryptocurrency firm. The holy grail of all job perks is equity. If you get a piece of the pie on a startup and then drive it to the moon, you could be one of the next crypto currency billionaires.

Financial skills or IT skills?

To make it in the cryptocurrency world, you need to understand cryptography, which is what makes everything secure. Not understand what a hash is — and how to solve one — or not knowing what a GPU is, will freeze you in your tracks.

The finance guys understand the mechanism of exchange is and how to profit from a “currency.” The tech guys know the building blocks: blockchain, how to mine, how to setup a bank of servers to solve a hash. Without the IT people powering this thing, no cryptocurrency endeavor can succeed.

A truly successful operation will use knowledge from every facet of IT, all the way down to a PC repair. Even tangentially-related sciences and disciplines like electrical engineering play a role. The electrical power required for crypto mining and creation is off the charts, with current global consumption coming in at 42.67 TWh, or 42.67 terawatts.

(Remember when Doc Brown freaked out in Back to the Future about the impossibility of generating 121 gigawatts of electrical power? A gigawatt is equal to 1 billion watts, whereas a terawatt is equal to —gulp! — 1 trillion watts.)

In order to solve the hashes, current mining operations employ enough power every day to supply the electrical needs of the entire state of Florida for a year.

The right skills profile to succeed

A security engineer, versed in programming and with a little bit of networking background, is an ideal candidate to run a mining operation or support a name brand cryptocurrency firm. You can really learn this technology from the ground up, since it is not very old. Even individuals entering the field from a non-IT background could learn enough in a relatively short time to make a splash in the world of crypto.

Full stack development is another key area for crypto firms. Most of the crypto companies are developing in javasript, but there are a few Python and node.js shops out there. Having the skillset for programming will land you in a comfortable area.

Most of the oft-discussed soft skills are also important in a cryptocurrency shop. Most people have been gradually improving soft skills throughout their careers, but it’s important to really be well versed when entering a role that combines the stress of working in finance with the demands of working in IT.

The ability to learn quickly and work independently is also a must. Though largely a given when it comes to any high tech role, the need for adaptability is further amplified by the highly technical nature of blockchain and the companies that create it. Being comfortable with ambiguity, being able to perform at a point and a grunt from a top-level guy, is important.

For network and server individuals, knowledge of top-rated equipment is essential, especially since you’ll want to fine-tune power consumption as much as possible.

And to perform in any role that requires interaction with the world outside the firm, you’ll need solid customer service skills. You’ll be expected to both understand what customers need, and keep them happy. The stronger your overall knowledge of blockchain and crypto, and the more comfortable you are explaining those topics to others, the better off you will be.

Certification not an option — yet

Certification is only tangentially an option in the cryptocurrency realm, but there are other ways to break in.

At the moment, there are not really any good certifications that tackle cryptocurrency as a whole, but it is important to keep abreast of the field and know what is coming next. You still can obtain certifications in full stack development, network engineering, even facilities management. Study up on your area of employment and the jobs will come to you.

Here’s one example of the sort of news item than IT professionals with an active interest in cryptocurrency should be monitoring:

One current hot topic is in-game purchases and pay-to-play or pay-to-watch things like Twitch streams. The cryptocurrency Enjin Coin has the potential to be huge in this market, and could start to gather in popularity very soon.

Enjin Coin is currently trading at $0.12, which doesn’t seem like much but it has a $95 million market cap and a $9,600 24-hour volume. I would fully expect this currency to rise as games adopt it for in-game purchases, or even to buy the game itself.

The cryptocurrency market is tight, full of false claims and clunky startups trying to make a buck. The allure of becoming rich is sucking people in and making everyone a little crazy. No matter what you hope to do in the cryptocurrency realm, invest, support, learn, or create, the means of doing is at your fingertips. Crack open a web browser, and start learning.

Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part series. Read Part 1

About the Author
Nathan Kimpel

Nathan Kimpel is a seasoned information technology and operations executive with a diverse background in all areas of company functionality, and a keen focus on all aspects of IT operations and security. Over his 20 years in the industry, he has held every job in IT and currently serves as a Project Manager in the St. Louis (Missouri) area, overseeing 50-plus projects. He has years of success driving multi-million dollar improvements in technology, products and teams. His wide range of skills includes finance, as well as ERP and CRM systems. Certifications include PMP, CISSP, CEH, ITIL and Microsoft.

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