Bitcoin slump or not, one thing that has been on the rise this year: cryptocurrency jobs.
Amid growing interest in Bitcoin and its peers this year, with exchange owners CME and CBOE offering Bitcoin futures, Bitcoin- and blockchain-related jobs on LinkedIn have risen roughly 306% in the 12 months ending mid-November. Bitcoin’s price has risen roughly 900% in the same period. (How high will it go in 2018? Read the cover story of our January 2018 issue.)
In the first 11 or so months of 2017, LinkedIn says job postings with Bitcoin in the headline grew to 4,917 listings—a jump of 5,753%. If you can believe it, that figure is higher than even the rise of Bitcoin’s price in the same time frame (more than 3,151%).
“The rise in the value of Bitcoin and other digital currencies over the past 12 months has opened the market up to many retail and institutional investors who were previously sitting on the sidelines,” a representative for the U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase said in a statement. “As the size of the market has grown, Coinbase has added the right people to ensure our platform and customers are properly supported, and we have approximately doubled our headcount in the last year.”
Coinbase now has roughly 200 employees.
Still, not all of of the LinkedIn job postings are directly related to Bitcoin. Some are likely also related to Bitcoin’s underlying technology, the blockchain. Though institutional giants like J.P. Morgan dismiss Bitcoin as an investment, they do find value in the blockchain and its potential application as a store of information for banks, healthcare providers, and even the pork supply chain.
It is admittedly challenging to discern the extent that the LinkedIn job listings specifically seek blockchain-savvy applicants, as Bitcoin and blockchain are often mentioned in tandem. (About 4,541 of LinkedIn job postings that mention Bitcoin also mention the blockchain.) Still, the listings come from startups as well as established companies such as [/f500link]Citigroup[/f500link] who are trying to leverage and understand the technology.
There is also career opportunity in the regulation of digital currencies. The rise of cryptocurrencies has prompted questions about how the new class of assets should be taxed and if it’s inheritable. That’s pushed law firms Pepper Hamilton and Latham Watkins to put more brainpower to the topic, though neither have made additional hires with the specific need to cover cryptocurrencies.
The cryptocurrency jobs market is still relatively small. As Bitcoin jobs have hit record highs—relatively speaking, of course—on LinkedIn, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that startups, defined as companies up to one year old, have collectively contributed at least 1.4 million jobs every year in the past two decades.
The recent drop in Bitcoin’s price has fanned fears of a broader downturn that could affect related jobs. After rising over $19,000 in the holiday season, the price of Bitcoin fell as low as $12,000. As of Tuesday, the cryptocurrency trades around $16,000.
Still, “In an industry as new as cryptocurrency,” says ZipRecruiter economist Cathy Barrera, “I would expect fluctuations in the pace of job opening growth and of growth in job applicant pool.”
Recent growing pains suggest more hands are needed in the nascent industry. When investors rushed to buy Bitcoin ahead of the CBOE and CME’s Bitcoin futures launches earlier this month, Coinbase struggled to keep up with the trades. Similarly, when the price of Bitcoin fell 20% a week ago, users found themselves unable to buy and sell due to what appeared to be technical errors. Addressing the issue earlier this month, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong wasn’t concerned. The company will continue “to invest heavily to scale our platform.”
Author: LUCINDA SHEN