This is an opinion editorial by Peter Conley, a product advocate at Vercel and a contributor for Bitcoin Magazine.
How big can Bitcoin jobs, infrastructure and opportunities get as a whole? Not “crypto” as a whole — just Bitcoin.
The Bitcoin network is growing at the same pace as the internet.
We are well aware of the size of the “monetary value” this network holds. As of writing, bitcoin has a global market capitalization of around $445 billion. What about the size of “employment value” it can produce?
In 1999, the job title iOS engineer didn’t exist. If you do a basic search on LinkedIn you’ll find over 33,000 open roles with that title alone. These are open job positions, not the number of people already employed in that position. In 2002, front end React developer jobs did not exist. On LinkedIn, you’ll find over 47,000 open roles at the time of writing. Same with “AWS Engineer” — nonexistent in 2004. Now? 203,000 job openings. Get where I’m going with this?
A similar trend is occurring in the Bitcoin space. In 2013, bitcoin mining and Wallet communications lead, Lightning infrastructure engineer and bitcoin mining operations manager positions didn’t exist. Not one. Now there are dozens if not hundreds of these types of positions available.
What will these opportunities look like in 2038? Will the LinkedIn (or equivalent) search for “Lightning engineer” return 10,000-plus results?
Breaking Down Bitcoin Subsectors And Potential Bitcoin Career Paths
Let’s explore the current subsectors of Bitcoin to lay out existing and future opportunities:
We’re still early. If Bitcoin is the internet, it’s 1997. People will crave useful educational content in order to understand bitcoin’s importance and how to buy it, trade it, store it and transact with it.
Do you remember the 1990s, when people tried to explain to you how important the internet will be? Remember when major news anchors didn’t know what email was? Remember when Dave Letterman laughed in the face of Bill Gates when he tried to explain the importance of the internet?
We’re in the same exact spot on the timeline if you map Bitcoin to the internet — it’s practically the same story. Because of this, there will be a market need for great communicators to inform the public of bitcoin’s importance.
Bitcoin Mining Jobs
Examples of mining companies are Cathedra, Marathon, and Compass Mining. Currently, the bitcoin mining sector has the most public companies and the largest measurable market cap compared to other types of Bitcoin companies.
Bitcoin mining could potentially be the largest subsegment, both in terms of market cap and employee count, simply because the bitcoin mining process needs a large amount of physical infrastructure and capital expenditure.
Bitcoin Engineering Jobs
Inventions we cannot foresee will be created on top of the Bitcoin protocol. Were the engineers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ever capable of predicting e-commerce or online dating when they first invented the internet? Was Alan Turing ever capable of predicting smartphones after he created the world’s first computer? Now, look at how many innovations were built on top of those core breakthroughs.
I don’t think, back in 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto ever mentioned concepts like seed phrases, multisignature wallets, and the Lightning Network, but here we are.
The opportunities are endless here. If you can dream it and code it, you can make it a reality.
Bitcoin Mining Pools
In addition to bitcoin mining companies, there are entirely separate “mining pool” companies, like Foundry. This can be an entire subsector in and of itself. Mining pools are similar to financial service companies and process efficiency companies for the miners. Mining pools de-risk the variable rewards from the mining process and allow more participants in the network to have stable sats flow.
Bitcoin Exchange Jobs
The need to convert USD to BTC will always exist until fiat currencies completely collapse. That’s where bitcoin exchanges come in.
Exchanges were some of the first — and now the richest — bitcoin companies. Examples are Kraken (started in 2011) and Coinbase (started in 2012). Most of them have since pivoted to offering cryptocurrencies at large, but there are exceptions: Swan Bitcoin is a bitcoin-only exchange. Expect this space to expand as more altcoins like Terra/LUNA start to implode.
Bitcoin Software Wallet Jobs
The scope at which bitcoin wallets will be embedded in nearly every user interface (both physical and digital) will be mind-bending. They will be as ubiquitous as email addresses or credit card submission forms. Every machine and website that accepts cash, credit cards, wire transfers and PayPal will be complemented — if not entirely replaced — with bitcoin wallets.
You’ll also need multiple kinds of wallets. One as a quasi-checking account (hot wallet) and another as a savings account (cold storage). There will be a need for implementing these wallets into existing businesses and there will be a need for education about how to transact with the Lightning Network, how to manage a hot wallet and cold storage wallet and how to calculate tax events.
Custodians help users hold a backup key for multisignature wallets. They even have services that specialize in this service for institutions, not just individuals. Two of the biggest players in this space are Casa and Unchained Capital.
Bitcoin Hardware Wallets
You’ve probably heard of the hardware wallets Ledger and Trezor, but have you heard of ColdCard? ColdCard specializes as a bitcoin-only hardware wallet.
Expect the hardware wallet space to get more creative and inventive. We’ve only just started to scratch the surface on cold storage approaches.
Bitcoin Node Producers
Bitcoin nodes are the specialized hard drives that host the ledger of all bitcoin transactions dating back to the first block in January 2009. There are several companies that make and sell these specialized mini servers. Some include Nodl, RoninDojo, and The Bitcoin Machine.
As the market cap of bitcoin grows, more people will have skin in the game leading to more people wanting to decentralize and protect the network.
Bitcoin Physical Products
The sky's the limit for bitcoin physical products. Opendime is a great example.
Other examples include the BLOCKCLOCK by Coinkite. Then there are steel-based devices for backing up keys like Codl’s Punchplate or the CypherWheel by CypherSafe.
Bitcoin “Bridge” Services
Professional services won’t go away, they’ll just shift to the bitcoin standard. People will still need in-person help to transition to the financial system like bitcoin cold storage consulting.
New paths are new business opportunities. A great example would be the mortgage market. Are you bitcoin rich but fiat asset poor and trying to get a mortgage? Look no further than Hoseki, an emerging technology to prove your holdings without surrendering custody.
As new needs become apparent, more and more business solutions and full-time work opportunities will arise for helping others with onboarding to the Bitcoin network.
This is a guest post by Peter Conley. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.