Are you interested in blockchain? Are you looking for ways to get involved in the Ethereum community? This article can help. It takes you through understanding the Ethereum network and some of the necessary steps of becoming an Ethereum developer.
The field of blockchain and cryptocurrency is growing, and it’s one of the best career choices a person can make today. Cryptocurrencies are expanding with each passing day, introducing new tokens, platforms, and exchanges.
Ethereum is an open-source blockchain platform that developers use to build and deploy decentralized applications. As more businesses realize the potential of distributed ledger technology, the popularity Ethereum created for blockchain will continue to rise. There are already several approaches for breaking into the field — one of which is continuing your development education.
What is Ethereum?
Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, chose the name Ethereum after browsing a list of elements from science fiction on Wikipedia partly because it included the word ether, a hypothetical invisible medium that enables light to travel.
Ethereum is a cryptocurrency and computing platform that allows for the creation of digital applications. These digital apps can do a lot of things, such as play games, invest in crypto, send money, track an investment portfolio, and follow social media. Ethereum works on a single blockchain with its network and coding language making it an immensely powerful tool for developers.
As a decentralized blockchain network, the Ethereum network is not managed by any single entity, which removes the latency found in centralized services like banking. By relying on consensus rather than a central authority, the Ethereum system ensures greater data accuracy, speed, and accessibility for its users.
Ethereum split into two different blockchains in 2016 namely Ethereum, and Ethereum Classic due to a vulnerability in Ethereum which was exploited and led to the hacking of $50 million worth of Ethereum’s native cryptocurrency, Ether. The hack caused the price of Ether to plummet from ~$20/ETH to ~$13/ETH. Developers resolved this security flaw within 5 hours of its occurrence through a software update that contained a smart contract on the Ethereum platform that essentially refunded the ETH taken by the hacker.
Ethereum is the second-largest decentralized platform for applications. Its blockchain is a vital component of the platform as the primary application that allows developers to build and exchange products without relying on intermediaries.
The Ethereum platform enables developers to build decentralized applications (DApps), which are programmed in smart contracts and run as decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). Developers can integrate their DApps into Ethereum, as well as create their own cryptocurrency.
How does Ethereum Work?
Ethereum is the preferred blockchain network for decentralized applications. It is a blockchain technology that allows people to interact with each other and make agreements with no one controlling them since everyone has a copy of the ledger. The network itself is decentralized — it gets copied to each computer, and when one computer goes offline, the rest of the network still exists without any issues. It’s like the network is made up of thousands or millions of computers that all have a copy of the same ledger.
Basics of the Ethereum Network
A blockchain developer can be a challenging position to take, but a strong understanding of the fundamentals will set you up well. You don’t need to be an expert on how each piece fits together — just understand how it all works together as a whole. Learn about what Ethereum is, its benefits, and how it differs from other blockchain platforms.
Ethereum consists of several key components
Ethereum is a decentralized blockchain platform that lets coders execute smart contracts. Smart contracts are applications that can be automatically executed by Ethereum’s blockchain protocol, eliminating the need for any human involvement. This makes them more secure and trustworthy than regular contracts, as they can’t be tampered with by outside forces.
Smart contracts are executed automatically when stated conditions are met. Though often associated with cryptocurrency, smart contracts can be applied to almost any industry — and have been! They have the potential to save companies money, reduce corruption, and provide an extra layer of protection for consumers. However, some experts warn that smart contracts are not perfect — hackers could potentially penetrate the security of a smart contract and execute malicious code, harming users and companies alike.
The blockchain is the most public and transparent ledger in the world. It is stored on every copy of the blockchain. Thousands of computers process every transaction. If something sounds fishy, then other computers will note that. If a dispute arises over any one thing, it can be resolved through a “consensus process,” where users on the network vote to decide which transaction occurred first.
The consensus mechanism refers to a specific algorithm, running on the Ethereum network to validate and record data, as well as to secure it. The consensus of the blockchain is that all data should be mutually agreed upon and this agreement can only be achieved with the algorithm. The main advantage of consensus is that all participants have no doubt about the authenticity of information and actions taken.
Ethereum Virtual Machine
Ethereum Virtual Machine is the world’s first global, open-sourced computation engine that looks and acts like a virtual machine. It has the ability to run decentralized applications, known as DApps. It allows users to create smart contracts, which are essentially just computer programs that automatically execute when certain conditions are met.
The Ethereum network runs on EVM code, which means that every single transaction and action that happens on the network is powered by smart contracts.
Ethereum, the second most popular cryptocurrency next to Bitcoin, has its currency called Ether. The primary function of Ether is to pay for transactions on the Ethereum blockchain, but it can also be used as a crypto-token to execute smart contracts.
There are two types of accounts that can hold and send Ether. The first type is externally owned accounts, which are used by users to interact with the Ethereum network. The second type of account is contract accounts, which are responsible for holding smart contracts.
Ethereum is the best platform but, it suffers from major issues that need to be addressed. Its cost is far too high for new developers, making it difficult for potential apps to be explored. The language used to develop its platform is complex, as well. This can discourage newcomers from getting involved.
Although usability is at the core of any successful software program, a good solution is only the beginning — it must also be maintained, supported, and upgraded to ensure the longevity of the product. The Ethereum platform has provided developers with an excellent starting point for their product; however, they need to think beyond the blockchain to build a strong support network that protects their user base from vulnerabilities and technical glitches.
Anonymity isn’t the only motivation behind Ethereum’s growth. While it provides security and freedom from censorship, it’s also a simple, transparent platform that helps businesses work more efficiently. Because the blockchain is distributed across all nodes, keeping track of transactions and ownership on a decentralized platform takes much less time than with a traditional web server.
Mining is a key process in building the Ethereum blockchain as it provides the power that allows Ethereum transactions across the network to be stored and processed. Ethereum mining is the processing of transactions in the Ethereum network which are then added to the blockchain. The goal is to ensure that all transactions are verified by a distributed consensus system based on formal verification. Mining provides a service to the whole network, not just to individual miners or mining pools.
Casper is a ground-breaking consensus protocol that allows Ethereum to scale up its network without compromising its core philosophy of decentralization. Casper is being developed by the team behind Ethereum. The team has concluded that Proof-of-stake is the best solution to solve the scalability challenges faced by blockchain platforms like Ethereum. Proof-of-Stake means that miners turn into validators and their function will be to validate transactions rather than create new blocks.
So what is the difference between proof of stake and proof of work?
Proof of work: The consensus mechanism used in Ethereum and Bitcoin, although popular alternatives like PoS are becoming more widespread. PoW is also often referred to as “mining”, based on the fact that it rewards miners who “find” new blocks with tokens.
Proof of stake: This protocol completely virtualizes the mining process. In this system, we have validators instead of miners. The way it works is that as a validator, you will first have to lock up some of your ether as stake. After doing that, you will then start validating blocks. If you see any blocks that you think can be appended to the blockchain, you can validate them by placing a bet on them.
Ethereum is constantly evolving and improving, especially with the release of its next version, Ethereum 2.0. The project will be integrating Casper, a proof-of-stake consensus algorithm that can help to improve Ethereum’s scalability — addressing one of the largest concerns that the Ethereum network has been experiencing recently.
Ethereum 2.0 (“Serenity”) is an upgrade to Ethereum which improves the speed, efficiency, and scalability of the network. This will take Ethereum to new heights as it will be able to drastically more transactions, alleviating congestion, and high gas costs on the network.
Ethereum Use Cases
Besides the current most common use as a digital currency, according to the Ethereum Foundation, Ethereum’s applications and use cases can be applied to almost everything from crowdfunding and peer-to-peer transactions to company governance, voting, contracts, and agreements.
ICOs, or initial coin offerings, have utilized the Ethereum platform as a crowdfunding alternative. Protocols like Filecoin and Storj have used Ethereum to create decentralized storage platforms. Then, of course, there is the tokenization of Ethereum when it comes to financial transactions.
Ethereum can also be used to create autonomous organizations, which the Ethereum Foundation calls ‘autonomous agents’.
Why Become an Ethereum Developer
There are a ton of benefits to becoming an Ethereum developer! And with the cryptocurrency industry booming as it is many companies now need developers to create next-level applications. By joining the Ethereum community, you’ll open many doors for your future career prospects.
1. Intellectual and Professional Development
In the blockchain field, many individuals have the chance to learn and have a chance to continuously improve. Blockchain technology provides more than a learning opportunity — it provides a comprehensive platform for individuals to learn about various intellectually empowering disciplines. The notable disciplines referred to in this case include cryptography, economics, and software development. In the blockchain industry, you have a chance to learn and continuously improve.
2. Scope for Growth
Thanks to the efforts of pioneers in the technology sector and organizations throughout the business, blockchain is no longer just a buzzword. It has morphed from an emerging concept to one that’s here to stay, however, as with most technological innovations, there aren’t enough blockchain developers to secure its future growth. Blockchain developers are needed by both startups and tech giants alike — with companies like IBM and Microsoft developing cutting-edge technology for blockchain in ways that can revolutionize industries.
3. Job Satisfaction
Blockchain jobs are becoming increasingly popular, indicating that the demand for such roles is high. The demand for blockchain developers has increased by 300% in 2019 alone. While developers can work independently or on teams to create new projects, most jobs require candidates to be well-versed in Solidity and have a deep understanding of the Ethereum blockchain.
Responsibilities of an Ethereum Developer
While a high-paying career is certainly an impetus for entry, most developers won’t pursue Ethereum development jobs because of this. It’s important to take a step back and find the right environment, one that provides the freedom to focus on technical agility, a problem-solving approach to code, and work-life balance.
Do you think it is easy to land an Ethereum development job? Should you want to become an Ethereum developer, and you’re looking for a way to start, your first goal is to figure out how. Ethereum development jobs are interesting enough that they can be the initial dabbling before you dive into deeper, more complex involvement in the community. How can you do this? Just take a look at the important responsibilities of Ethereum developers outlined as follows:
- Development of Ethereum smart contract with Solidity programming language.
- Supporting the creation of teams for smart contracts and decentralized app development.
- Creation and testing of customer-facing decentralized applications.
- Coordination of work with partners and contractors.
- Safeguarding security of enterprise blockchain applications with basic cryptography techniques.
- Communicating the application specifications and project details for all stakeholders alongside adapting to fast-paced team environments.
- The ability to explain technical jargon to uninitiated stakeholders.
However, becoming an Ethereum developer isn’t a job for the faint-hearted — it’s a serious commitment to your career and blockchain technology. The responsibilities of an Ethereum developer are significant: they have to work with the public blockchain whilst maintaining immutability and security, and they have to program a smart contract that conveys specific messages between parties, who may not trust each other.
Skills Needed to Become an Ethereum Developer
In this rapidly growing technological landscape, it’s hard to find a company or industry that isn’t looking to incorporate blockchain technology. This offers software developers multiple entry points into the burgeoning field of Ethereum development and solidifies the demand for developers, skilled in Solidity and familiar with Ethereum.
1. Fluency in Blockchain Fundamentals
To become successful at Ethereum development, you need to start with a solid foundation. If you are looking to learn how to develop blockchains, the first step is learning how to use existing blockchains, understanding how they work, and gaining experience using them. Start with a few of the following topics:
- Consensus algorithms
- Popular Smart contract platforms
- Transactions, Gas, and Prices of Gas
- Incentives for Miners and Security
- Comparison of proof of work and proof of stake
- Token standards
2. Understanding of Cryptography
- Digital signatures
- Public key encryption
- Private key encryption
- Hash functions
- Encrypted storage
- Key exchange or agreement
- Ring signatures
- Trusted execution environments
- Zero-knowledge proofs
- Elliptic curve encryption
3. Programming Knowledge
Of course, there are Ethereum developers who have mastered only one programming language in their arsenal. But why limit yourself to one? As you learn the essentials of blockchain technology, it’s worth taking time to develop a firm grasp of several new languages and not just stop at Ethereum.
However, learning more than one programming language does make sense — after all, your goal is to be able to create an entirely new system for the distributed web.
There are plenty of programming languages an Ethereum developer needs to master before starting a project. While this can seem overwhelming, there’s no need for developers to learn these languages from scratch. Instead, they should choose a “framework” or “platform” — like Truffle, Embark, and Ganache — that provides the most common features they need while working on their application.
Salary Potential for Developers
The economics of the job can also be motivating. In the case of Ethereum, this could mean that the salary for an Ethereum developer is high enough to motivate newcomers to learn the programming language and gain relevant experience. According to ZipRecruiter, for example, it’s almost $172,000 per year for experienced developers — and that’s just the average.
The salary of an Ethereum blockchain developer depends on many other factors, such as their years of experience in the field and their specialization in a particular skill set. Different locations can also impact how much money an Ethereum blockchain developer makes.
Companies Hiring Ethereum Network Developers
Although there are many Ethereum job openings, you should know that they aren’t necessarily of the same quality. Some enterprises hire developers to work on their blockchain projects as full-time employees, while others employ freelancers and other independent contractors. Knowing that your employer is willing to spend a significant amount of money on your salary is a good indicator of long-term employment stability — meaning that you’ll have a long time to demonstrate your skills and use them to grow your reputation.
Below are a few companies hiring developers on the Ethereum network.
- Ernst & Young
- JPMorgan Chase
Steps to Become an Ethereum Developer
Now that we’ve covered all of the reasons for becoming an Ethereum developer and learned about the prospects associated with the role, we can go a step further and learn about the steps necessary to becoming a developer.
There are many ways to make it happen, but the key is to start with the right steps. You have to understand the different tools available to you and what’s expected of you in each stage so that you can make wise decisions about your career.
Start with the Basics
Whether you’re learning to code or writing a smart contract, foundational knowledge of blockchain and Ethereum is important. While it is important to have a working knowledge of blockchain and Ethereum concepts, a fundamental-level Ethereum developer course will go deeper into the specifics.
Several blockchain development courses exist specifically to establish a sound blockchain foundation. While many courses stack advanced-level content on top of this foundation, you should consider the importance of building that foundation first before diving into more advanced topics.
Understanding the history of blockchain, how smart contracts work, and how mining works are essential to understanding the technology as a whole.
Solidity is a must-learn. There are a lot of moving parts in Solidity, so be sure to brush up on all the basics. Additionally, as you get deeper into Solidity, you’ll start creating your smart contracts.
Specialize in Ethereum Toolset
Innovations in the Ethereum development space are happening faster than many people could have imagined. Metamask, Truffle, and web3.js are the most popular tools for making applications run on the Ethereum network — but recent advancements are pushing these three aside in favor of new alternatives. The efficiency of a professional always depends on their ability to use relevant tools suited for their job.
Tools for developers have changed in the past year, with the growth of a vast network of decentralized applications. With the increased flexibility and community support of Truffle, the automation platform for Ethereum, and the newly developed MetaMask — which is only compatible with the Google Chrome browser — creating a new blockchain application has never been easier. Web3.js was developed by ConsenSys to connect to any Ethereum node and smart contract functionality.
Go Open Source
An Ethereum developer would have to keep up with the latest changes on the platform. Unlike other platforms, Ethereum’s smart contracts are constantly evolving and being updated — sometimes with drastic changes. So, a beginner will have to invest time in keeping up-to-date with the most recent changes in Ethereum development. They will have to go through new updates and understand their implications, implement them into their projects, test them, and then move on with whatever knowledge they gained from this process.
Certifications can be a valuable resource for interviewing for blockchain developer jobs. Having tangible proof of your skills and your commitment to the burgeoning field can help you deliver better value to an enterprise and provide you with an opportunity to network with your peers.
The IT certification market is currently growing and a few of the touchpoints of being a certified Ethereum developer include:
- Knowing what it means to be a developer in the Ethereum network.
- Exploring different tokens and dApps.
- Learning to build projects around InterPlanetary File System (IPFS).
- Learning about testing smart contracts and their tools.
- Learning how to create, compile and deploy smart contracts on the Ethereum platform.
- Learning to build projects like NFT marketplace and games based on NFT.
As you can see, becoming an Ethereum developer is not an easy task. Before embarking on this journey, prepare your skill and knowledge requirements, forge responsibilities and take the necessary steps. You should also create a portfolio to showcase your coding abilities.
As mentioned above, there are tons of possibilities in the growing Ethereum development career. With a full portfolio that showcases your best work and coding abilities, the process will be much easier.
Ethereum is, without a doubt, the dominant platform in the blockchain ecosystem. It was the first popular platform and its smart contract system has captured the attention of creators across industries. With so many developers using Ethereum, it’s a good place to start your career as a blockchain developer. Therefore, it is a reasonable bet to think of starting your career as an Ethereum developer on Ethereum.