Blockchain, the technology that powers cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, is gradually gaining mainstream attention as more prominent US universities are adding it to their course lists.
For those who are not familiar with cryptocurrency yet, it is essentially a digital asset designed to work as a bridge to secure the financial transactions and a decentralized way for users to directly transact online.
Increasing demand from various sectors
Experts say that the demand for Blockchain expertise are coming from all sectors like financial services, to retail, and it is far outstripping supply.
Michael Mainelli, who runs Blockchain training courses for senior executives at his consultancy Z/Yen says:
“It is a hot market at the moment because most of the large corporates want to be able to say they have a Blockchain team”.
Along with innovation comes risks of fraud and criminal activities. Instead of getting baffled by such challenges, most companies now see this as an area of huge potential to improve the efficiency of existing processes such as tracking food products to processing financial transactions.
According to IBM’s Vice President of Blockchain Technologies, Jerry Cuomo, the best Blockchain engineer can earn a salary above $250,000.
“It is on the high side of what a really talented consultant or software engineer can earn. Demand is exceeding supply, so we are seeing shortages. It is up there with the cloud and artificial intelligence as a really hot area.”
“This technology is not that complicated,” he adds. “If you are a coder who knows about cryptography then it is pretty simple.”
Universities offering Blockchain courses
It’s not the first time that universities are offering courses or certificates related to Blockchain, but it’s only until recently when established universities are offering them as well. It reflects the development of this field and combines shared database systems with cryptography.
Aggelos Kiayias, Chair in Cybersecurity and Privacy, Director of the Blockchain Technology Laboratory at Edinburgh University says:
“Blockchain technology is a recent development and there is always a bit of a lag as academia catches up.”
University of Edinburgh also plans to become one of the first major European universities to launch a Blockchain course. Kiayias adds:
“You can learn an incredible amount about cyber security just by studying the Blockchain.” Also a distributed ledger, there are other benefits in studying the technology, as well as learning the skills needed to build a Blockchain”.
In US, universities such as Stanford University already launched Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies courses two years ago. While University of California - Berkeley, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology offer similar courses on the subject.
There are also internet tutorials, many of which are available for free.
Coursera, education technology company, has teamed upwith Princeton University in offering an 11-week cryptocurrency technology course.
Three years ago, a group of experienced cryptocurrency executives founded the BlockChain University in California which offers an 8-week course to students who pay $100 refundable deposit once the course is completed.
Other educational initiatives on Blockchain in London and Hamburg is called B9lab which offers a 40-hour course on Blockchain for technical executives and analyst which costs €2,350 for a nine week training.
Blockchain-related jobs on the rise, too
Consequently, Blockchain-related jobs have surged in the past few weeks. In fact, there are over 1,000 Blockchain-related job advertisements on LinkedIn and the numbers of Blockchain ads are at 40 percent a quarter.
Almost 10,000 people on the site list Blockchain as a skill, half of them in the technology industry and a quarter in the financial services sector.
Majority, people who listed Blockchain as a skill on the site are based in the US, followed by UK, France, India, Germany and the Netherlands. Aside from that, almost a quarter of them listed Bitcoin as their skill, while 16% added Python, which is a programming language and 9% added cryptocurrencies as their skill.
LinkedIn’s UK Country Manager, Josh Graff, says:
“Professionals in related areas such as cryptography and machine learning may want to look at the roles available and the skills they need to develop, as there is certainly a growing demand within the technology, finance and insurance industries for Blockchain expertise.”