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  • Jeffrey Scholz

Blockchain Job Tier List

Updated: Jan 11


Blockchain job rankings
Blockchain job rankings

All industries have a tier list or implied ranking. It’s usually unspoken, but it’s a real thing that should inform your strategy for getting a job as a blockchain or smart contract engineer.


Blockchain developer jobs:

At RareSkills, we get a lot of questions about how to get blockchain jobs including Blockchain developer jobs. But this question assumes that all web3 engineering jobs are created equal. They aren’t.


Some engineers are surprised when we respond “you can already get a job in blockchain,” but this is followed up with the qualifier, “it’s probably not the one you want.”


Clarification 1: Working at a web3 company doesn’t mean you do blockchain engineering.

In this tier list, we are talking specifically about engineering jobs that apply to blockchain specifically. Particularly, we will talk about smart contract development, smart contract auditing, and blockchain protocol development.


You can get a (good!) job in blockchain while knowing relatively little about smart contracts and consensus algorithms by working on tooling, front-end web applications, data science, and backend infrastructure.


However, what most engineer’s have in mind when they say “get a job in web3” they mean working on the “unique stuff,” specifically the blockchain itself, the smart contracts, and the security auditing. These are specialized and new skills that aren’t used elsewhere.


Clarification 2: Innovators and Derivatives

To understand the tier list, you must understand the concept of Innovators and Derivatives.

Every industry has a few innovators and some derivative projects. This is not meant to praise “innovators” and demean “derivatives.” This dichotomy always comes out in a healthy market because no single company can make every potential customer happy. Let’s look at some examples:



This happens in every industry. Machine learning, SaaS, food delivery, coupon apps, and so on. There is absolutely nothing wrong with copying market leaders. It’s good business practice, and gives customers more choice. It also keeps the market leader under pressure to keep innovating to stay ahead. But you should be aware that getting a job at an innovator company is going to be much harder than getting a job at a derivative company. This does not mean however that getting a blockchain job at a derivative company is easy, these are only relative comparisons!


Clarification 3: Legitimate and Questionable Projects

Web3 has more than its fair share of projects and companies who want to build as little and collect as much money as possible. These have a lower tier than derivatives. They are also known as cash grabs and scams. As you would expect, it’s easier to get a job as a smart contract engineer at a questionable project than a company that is sincerely trying to add value to their customers. To clarify, a derivative project can be legitimate and very hard to get a job at. But a questionable project will always be less competitive.


Blockchain Job Tier List

As if it wasn’t obvious already, this article is for software developers. What we say here doesn’t necessarily apply to other verticals within web3.


Without further ado, let’s share the tier list! In honor of our gamer constituents, S tier (superb tier) is the highest.


S tier

  • Senior protocol engineer at Ethereum, Solana, or an established and fundamentally innovative blockchain.

  • Architect for tokenomics and protocol design of fundamentally innovative DeFi applications.

  • Lead auditor at a company like Trail of Bits, OpenZeppelin, or Consensys.

A tier

  • Lead Protocol engineer at an EVM derivative blockchain.

  • Smart contract engineer (not lead) at a top tier DeFi protocol

  • Lead auditor at a derivative but legitimate auditing firm.

  • Auditor (not lead) at a leading auditing firm

B tier

  • Junior protocol engineer at derivative blockchain

  • Smart contract engineer at a derivative (but legitimate) DeFi protocols.

  • Auditor (not lead) at a derivative auditing firm.

  • Junior auditor at a leading auditing firm.

C tier

  • Builds token ecosystems for small but legitimate projects

  • DeFi Engineer (not lead) at a derivative protocol.

  • Lead DeFi engineer at questionable DeFi Protocol. Copies and pastes DeFi protocols to less popular EVM compatible blockchains with minor modifications.

  • Smart contract auditor at a questionable security firm.

D tier

  • Freelance NFT and basic ERC20 tokens for small projects. Usually short term gigs. Projects are of reasonable engineering quality.

  • Smart contract auditing at this level is a joke or a scam.

F tier

  • Any job that accepts developers who only have an online certificate from a developer education website. Produces poorly written smart contracts. Doesn’t know anything about security.

How your web2 experience affects your tier

Web3 engineering is not a shortcut to avoid learning things in web2 that seem boring or theoretical.


Reputable blockchain companies want to see you know how to write production grade code, regardless of if it is solidity, rust, vyper, or whatever programming language. They want to see you can reason about what is going on behind the scenes and can think through a lot of corner cases. They want to see you know how to solve a problem several ways and can think through the relative tradeoffs of the solutions.


These skills are not specific to web3. They are groomed in web2.


The longer you’ve been working as a traditional software engineer (assuming you’ve been learning and working not coasting and working), the higher the tier you can aim for.


Area of experience matters too.


If you’ve been working in cryptography, distributed systems, systems programming, or some subfields of cybersecurity, this will count for a lot more than working on traditional full stack applications. If you are really stellar in one of the first four aforementioned fields, you might be able to go straight to the B tier with minimal blockchain training and get promoted to the A tier within a year.


What tier do RareSkill’s graduates get?

To get into the A tier, you need at least (and this is very optimistic) two years of intense and relevant experience to qualify in addition to enough web2 experience to show you are a competent programmer. This doesn’t mean you’ve been programming in Solidity for two years. It means you’ve been challenging yourself with new subjects in the ecosystem every week until you’re an expert in a lot of topics in blockchain. These two years assume you learn faster than average and work harder than average — you have an enviable combination of passion and talent. For most, it will take longer than that.


It may sound funny to expect people to have four years of experience in such a new field, but when an A-tier job posting asks for it, they usually mean it.


RareSkills hasn’t been around for even a year yet. So we’re proud to say our students get offers in the B tier, sometimes borderline the A tier. For a company that’s been around for 5 months, this is a serious accomplishment.


We are continuing to evolve our educational offering until RareSkills provides the most direct path to an A-tier job.


Does Tier Matter?

No.


It only tells you how difficult it is to get the job.


The only things that matter are what are relevant ultimate career goals.


If you specifically want to work on something that interests you, you don’t have to wait for the company to accept you as an employee. You can start making open source contributions tomorrow (hint: start with the documentation).


If money is what matters, yes, there is a correlation between job tier and income, but it’s not an absolute one.


If you are looking for remote flexibility that allows you to travel around the world freely, aiming for a top tier company is probably not the best idea because the environment will be more competitive.


Why we wrote this

It’s worth re-iterating. If your goal is to “get a job in blockchain,” you need to be clear in your mind “what kind of job and at what company.” The tier of the job role will significantly inform what kind of preparation you need to get that job.


Also, this should serve as a useful tool for you to filter out people who claim they can "get you a job in web3." What tier of job?


Read more of our blogs here.

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