Through my own job, my network, and my other activities, I’m exposed to the industry a lot. I have the chance to talk to other insiders, enterprise/bank IT leaders, and many many more. I also consult as a side hustle and build one or the other website from time to time. I don’t do this full-time, yet, but it may give me some credibility.
This section is here to showcase scenarios, skills, and business ideas that I view as opportunities for someone who wants to make a change and go the entrepreneur route or simply upskill themselves.
Upskill Yourself - The Cloud Engineer
More and more companies try to get their software into the cloud or at least use some of the cloud technologies in their own data centers. This increases the demand for people who are actually able to handle all that for development teams. As much as everyone would like, cloud technologies are different and usually not as easy as their creators would like them (or sell them) to be. Developers and engineers could also take care of that but they already have a job to do, so giving them even more to do wouldn’t be the wisest thing to do. This brings in dedicated cloud engineers. They are engineers, not administrators, and use software engineering to solve infrastructure and development problems. You can, of course, provision EC2 instances on AWS by hand, or you can automate it with terraform, put it under version control, and ease up the process for development teams. According to Robert Half
72 percent of surveyed managers said that they already used the cloud and at the beginning of 2020, the national median salary for cloud engineers in the U.S. was around $100,000 to $140,000. Although specific to the U.S. market, this gives a pretty good indication as to how salaries might develop in the rest of the world.
If you are interested in upskilling yourself, it might be wise to learn Python or Go and choose one of the large cloud providers like Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud. Cloud provider certificates might help you to showcase that you understand the platform of your choice. It might also make sense to get comfortable with Docker and Kubernetes. Many larger organizations are already on or are still in the process of migrating to a microservice architecture. They are in dire need of employees to help them in this process.
Self-employment - The Blockchain Consultant
We are only at the beginning of finding out what blockchain technology is actually all about. It’s like the early days of the internet right now. Everybody hears about this new technology, many people invest in cryptocurrencies based on it, but not enough people can currently envision what actually is possible. That’s also a problem corporations currently have. Like with ML and AI, they try to find out whether this technology can provide something to them that might have a slight chance of giving them the edge over their competitors.
A few larger banks already experiment with blockchains or have some very early products on the market, but they are still in dire need of people who can help them to leverage this technology. The same holds true for other industries. This creates many opportunities for individuals to upskill themselves and provide guidance & consulting on such a hot topic. They could, of course, just pay McKinsey and whatever they are all called a lot of money to come up with an idea, but what about really skilled individuals who can provide a unique perspective on the matter?
This is where this opportunity comes in. It’s a very broad one, to be honest, as the field is way larger than one might initially think. The possible fields range from general strategic consulting, over smart contract implementation on specific blockchains, to providing guidance on implementing a whole blockchain on its own. Especially the development of smart contracts on public blockchains has the potential to bring a pretty good income. Companies use an already existing infrastructure, develop their product on it, and can then release it into the wild.
I think that the following skills would be necessary to pursue such a career:
General Knowledge Of Blockchain Technology
You’ll need to understand what a blockchain is and what it isn’t, and you’ll have to be able to explain it to stakeholders in such a way that they, as well, are able to understand what they can expect and whatnot. We are only talking about high-level knowledge here. You don’t need to know everything in and out, yet.
Knowledge Of Atleast One Specific Blockchain
Depending on what you want to offer, it might make a lot of sense to know one blockchain very well. If you are to go into smart contract development, Ethereum or Elrond might be a good choice. They both offer smart contracts and a corresponding language those can be implemented with.
Knowledge Of A Smart Contract Language
If you focus on a specific blockchain and on smart contract development, you’ll need to know the corresponding programming language. Ethereum has Solidity and Vyper, Elrond offers a good Rust integration.
Deeper Blockchain Knowledge
If you want to provide guidance on implementing a blockchain on its own, you should be well aware of how one works. This is, however, a pretty large topic, as it covers a multitude of areas you need to be good in. A blockchain basically combines a lot of already existing technologies, like peer-to-peer networking, cryptography, community consensus, and more. I’d consider this skillset pretty advanced and nothing you learn within a year. But it is something you can learn on the side to include in your service portfolio at some point later.
Selling an idea that is currently pretty abstract, like the internet was some years ago, needs some pretty good communication skills. You might have been contracted already, but you’ll most likely still have to sell the overall idea to upper management. This is where the ability to communicate ideas well and also explain abstract concepts and their possible business implications plays a crucial role.