How the rise of blockchain is creating AI talent demand

In case you haven’t been paying attention, developments in artificial intelligence recruitment are likely to significantly affect our society in a few short years. It’s no wonder that AI (artificial intelligence, also referred to as ‘machine-learning’) engineers possess enormously in-demand skills. From the health sector to retail, industries looking to harness the power of predictive analytics and to streamline operations need AI engineering. One emerging technology in particular relies on AI engineers with specific abilities: blockchain technology.

What is blockchain?

Blockchain technology, put simply, is an online ledger that manages recorded transactions. What makes it remarkable is that this “digital record book” is distributed, meaning anyone connected to the network has a copy of it. It’s disseminated via peer-to-peer networks where data can be added, but not retroactively changed. Its stripped-down description doesn’t sound particularly groundbreaking, but blockchain could shake up how business transactions are conducted in the near future.

Various applications of blockchain tech

Rather than get a grasp on exactly how blockchain technology works, it’s easier to focus on what it can do. Nearly any company with complex supply chains – especially ones that are affected by mistrust and human error – could potentially benefit from blockchain solutions.

More people might associate blockchain with cryptocurrency, but the applications for blockchain are numerous. One interesting example of an industry that might soon be greatly changed by blockchain solutions is real estate. This ledger-type technology can streamline transactions between buyers and sellers, cut down on human error, reduce the need for intermediaries and provide much more transparency. Cutting out some of these “middlemen” may also result in buyers and sellers getting more out of their money as they save on commissions and fees charged by these intermediaries. This also makes the process much quicker as the back-and-forth between these middlemen gets cut. 

In addition to decentralized cryptocurrencies and real estate transactions, blockchain solutions might potentially have significant effects on:

  • Tracking prescription drugs
  • Wills and inheritance
  • Cross-border payments
  • Birth, death, and other certificates
  • Insurance claims processing
  • …and more.

Even the international accounting and finance megagiant, Deloitte, has a dedicated blockchain team. Ultimately, blockchain tech could soon be a foundational component of many business processes, and we’re only starting to scratch the surface of its full potential.

Blockchain career boom

Because so many organizations are scrambling to be first-movers in the blockchain game, the demand for the AI the engineers necessary to build solutions has skyrocketed in a few short years. According to one analysis by Indeed.com, searches for blockchain and cryptocurrency roles increased by 469%. Due to the volatility of cryptocurrency, the exact job search rate seems to vary greatly from year to year, however it’s clear that the need for machine-learning engineers with blockchain knowledge will most likely continue to grow. Attractive salaries will surely draw more people to specialize in AI engineering as well.

Currently, the salary of a blockchain engineer is typically even higher than that of a programmer without the same qualifications. In Silicon Valley, for example, a blockchain engineer can enjoy an annual salary of over $175,000, similar to the salaries of other AI developers.

New skills might mean less experience

When it comes to new blockchain solutions, some of the most common roles that need filling include Full-Stack Developer, Software Engineer and Software Developer, with key skills in P2P networks, JavaScript, and Cryptography, and more. A decade ago, Blockchain technology was in its infancy, and the demand for AI developers in general pales in comparison to what it is today. All this to say that professionals with these highly-demanded skills are unlikely to have 15 years of corporate experience. Many of these sought-after AI engineers are in their 20’s and 30’s, and don’t have the kind of managerial background employers are looking for in order to fill more executive-type roles. In fact, many companies are now looking to hire directly from schools and even coding bootcamp programs. The need for both skills and experience has posed somewhat of a conundrum – on that has led hiring managers and recruiters to slightly rethink their strategy.

New outlook on recruitment

Once upon a time, offering a good salary and a stable position was the leading way to attract talent; even in the computer engineering world. Like almost everything else in life, things change. The rise of blockchain means that machine learning engineers have plenty of options when it comes to where they want to work. Salary and stability might be key variables, but they aren’t the only job aspects these professionals are seeking. The engineers of today are looking for interesting and challenging projects. Often, they want to know what sort of impact their project will have on the company, or even on society and the environment. The concept of meaningful work is of premium importance to millennial workers – and many of whom are in the technology sector. It’s why so many companies are now paying more attention to their corporate culture and corporate social responsibility. When it comes to hiring, employers are also learning how to better communicate the nature of the role and the type of working environment, rather than salary alone.

The rise of blockchain technology will continue to provide more and more opportunities for developers from other fields to transition to where the demand is hot. It’s hard to predict if the gap between available talent and open positions will continue to widen, or if masses of tech specialists will hone their skills and hop on the blockchain bandwagon. One thing is certain: hiring managers will have their work cut out for them for the foreseeable short term.