So you want to learn about blockchain?
The best time to start would have been 9 years ago. The second best time is right now.
It’s not too late to be part of the movement.
We all wish we had gotten involved earlier and don’t want to feel like we missed the opportunity.
Many people just end up buying cryptocurrencies, but those folks haven’t done too well this year.
Maybe it’s not worth risking your own money this late in the game, unless you happen to be an expert.
The good news is that you can still get started without making risky investments… all you need to do is teach yourself the underlying technology. That’s the first step to getting hired in the blockchain industry. It’s a blazing hot job market paying steep premiums for those with a basic understanding of blockchain tech.
It’s going to take hard work, but it’s easier than you might think.
So, let me repeat what I said earlier: anyone can find a job in the blockchain industry, even if they can’t code.
The problem is that most of the articles and lessons out there are WAY too complex for a regular Joe/Jane. They assume you’re a computer science major or seriously experienced coder…
But, you know what…blockchain matters for everyone else, too.
I wrote this article to save you from wasting money on paid classes about cryptocurrency and blockchain. There are tons of free resources that are better than the paid alternatives. This article has everything you need to become a blockchain professional, for free. You can easily cover the material in 6 months and know MORE than enough to get hired.
Already know exactly what you’re looking for? Skip to the “resources” section.
Why Learn About Blockchain?
Just in case you need some motivation to get started.
Believe it or not, blockchain technology is still early in the adoption curve. Starting to learn today is like starting to learn web development in the late 90s. You could realistically be employable in just a few months, or an expert in the field within a few years.
“If theres a gold rush, don’t be the one mining for gold, be the one selling pickaxes and shovels.” The right opportunity isn’t always the obvious one.
So why should you pick this opportunity and start learning now?
- Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin/Ethereum/etc. are risky. Their prices are unstable. It’s not easy to predict where they’re headed. But, hiring for blockchain technologies by top companies is stable and consistently growing. There are way more jobs than qualified workers.
- It’s a smoking hot job market. These jobs aren’t just for coders, either. Copywriters, marketers, project managers, sales reps…. just about every department or position you can think of is desperate for workers with a basic working knowledge of blockchain tech.
- The pay is really good. Seriously…did I mention these jobs pay really well? On average 20–30% more than their non-blockchain equivalents. I often see jobs paying a >50% premium for those with any blockchain experience.
So, what will you be learning?
You’ll learn enough about blockchain technology to get hired in a non-technical role. But, what does that mean?
It DOESN’T mean you need to be able to code your own blockchain, or understand the advanced math behind cryptography.
It DOES mean you’ll learn to communicate clearly about the various technologies that use blockchain. You’ll understand why blockchains matter. You’ll be able to describe the limitations and the basic mechanics. And, you’ll understand the big blockchain buzzwords.
When it comes down to it, it’s more like learning a language than a science.
So, if you’re convinced, here’s what you need to get started.
Top resources — a quick summary of the best blockchain classes, articles and books I’ve found.
You don’t need to know how to code to get started, I promise.
- My #1 Pick: The Blockchain at Berkeley class. If you only do one thing to learn about blockchain, take this free online class. The lectures are on YouTube and the coursework is on the Berkeley website. Do the assigned readings before watching the lectures. You can re-watch the lectures as many times as necessary. I intentionally watch them one time all the way through. Then I re-watch and pause every time I hit a confusing portion. This class alone is enough to get you ready for many non-technical jobs.
- Digital Gold by Nathaniel Popper(paid, but worth it)is the best book about the start of Bitcoin and the history of blockchain. I guarantee it will get you pumped about working in the industry. https://amzn.to/2Ixr8Bt If you don’t want to pay for it, do a free trial of Audible on Amazon to get the audiobook for free.
- Beyond the Blockchain NY Times article and the Wired Guide to Blockchainare my picks for the best articles to get you up to speed as a non-technical reader. If the wired article feels too tech jargon-y for you, then try these bitdegree articles, they start simple and do a great job explaining each new term.
- Next time your watching youtube, try watching a few blockchain and bitcoin intro videos. A good strategy is to watch several of these (a least 5 of them). Each will give you a slightly different perspective. You’ll pick up on repeated themes and the most common blockchain buzzwords. Here are 5 with different levels of detail: Understand the blockchain in 2 minutes(2:00), How does a blockchain work(5:59), Bitcoin: How Cryptocurrencies Work(9:25), Andreas Antonopoulos Intro to Bitcoin(37:16), Blockchain at Berkeley Introduction(48:29)
- Blockchain for Dummies is a surprisingly good book from IBM that first explains blockchain and then helps you figure out if it’s a good match for your business. It gives you all the highlights for understanding how a business thinks about using blockchain technology. If you’re thinking of sales/marketing in the industry this will get you up to speed on how enterprise-level customers think.
- Crypto Zombiesis the best option if you want to try out some coding. I know I said this is for non-coders… but if you’re thinking of trying it out, this is a good way to see if you like it. It’s not for everyone, but it’ll give you the quickest and easiest intro.
Josh’s full list of free blockchain resources
This is all the “good stuff” I could find for non-coders.
The best strategy for tackling this material — start by choosing a class from the list. Then prep for it by reading at least one of the books, watching all the videos I’ve listed, and reading all the articles. Complete the class with your newfound blockchain know-how. Once you’re done, choose your favorite blockchain project, read the whitepaper (which you can now fully understand) and start interacting with others in the project’s community. This will get you ahead of 99% of other job applicants.
- Blockchain at Berkeley ClassI’ve said it before, but I think this is the best free class available. Lectures are hereand the class curriculum is here. The class is in-depth and gradually ramps up to more technical material. Take it slow, re-watch the lectures if you run into problems, and do the assigned readings.
- Khan Academy Bitcoin Class Khan Academy does a great job explaining topics in a clear and understandable way. This class focuses on functionality more than the overall industry or history. You can take the class at any pace and ask questions along the way. It’s great for those struggling with technical concepts. You can take this alongside any of the classes listed here to help you through the technical portions.
- Udemy: Introduction to Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain In my opinion, this is the best free course on udemy. I don’t generally take classes here, but for those that like udemy, this is the class I’d suggest.
- Princeton Bitcoin Course(more technical) Try this if you want something WAY more challenging. The website has the textbook and all lectures along with course material. It’s geared towards those with a technical background and some basic computer science knowledge.
- Digital Gold by Nathaniel Popper (paid, but free option available) This book tells the story of bitcoin/blockchain in an understandable and exciting way. It will definitely get you fired up to learn more! https://amzn.to/2Ixr8Bt If you don’t want to pay for it, do a free trial of Audible on Amazon and you can get the audiobook for free.
- The Age of Cryptocurrency (paid, but free option available) Written for a non-technical audience, this book is written to get you excited about the future of blockchain technology. https://amzn.to/2KWncLg Same as before, you can do a free trial of Audible on Amazon to get the audiobook for free.
- Mastering Bitcoin by Andreas Antonopoulos. A technical book with a non-technical introduction. You only need the non-technical portion, so you can just use the free trial on the O’Reilly website and read it leisurely over a week. Also, I’ve noticed there’s an early release version of this book available online for free, just google the book’s title to find it.
- The Princeton Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency Technologies book. This gets technical quick, but it is free and the first few sections are understandable by non-technical folks. Download it now. Once you start learning more about blockchain, you can reference this textbook when you want to learn more about a topic.
- Blockchain for Dummies from IBM. This gives an easily understandable intro to blockchain. It also gives you an enterprise-level perspective on how a business decides whether or not to use blockchain technology. If you’re interested in working with larger companies or work in sales/marketing, I’d suggest reading this.
- Want to learn more? Check out this curated list of free books. This git repo contains a solid collections of free ebooks for those that want more information. It seems to be updated semi-regularly and has some decent non-technical content.
- Beyond the Blockchain New York Times — an excellent long-form article on the technology behind Bitcoin and how it goes far beyond cryptocurrency.
- Wired Guide to Blockchain — for those with a bit of a tech background. Wired does a great job summing up the past, present and future of the technology.
- Ten years in, nobody has come up with a use for blockchain — If you want to get into the industry, you should understand the biggest critics. Kai Stinchcombe’s critique on slow adoption of blockchain tech has gotten the most attention.
- WTF is blockchain? — one of my favorite articles explaining the technology in 4000 words or less.
- Bitdegree articles— these are my favorite tutorial-style articles. They cover most of the basic blockchain topics. The articles are written for absolute beginners, but go into a fair amount of depth.
- Why everyone missed the most mind-blowing feature of cryptocurrency— this is a very hot topic in the tech world right now. It covers the way cryptocurrency offers a path to universal basic income. Whether you support the idea or not, the idea is trending and it’s good to understand.
- Don’t have time for everything? Ramp up with these 5 intro videos. They start with a basic 2 minute explanation and end with an hour long comprehensive intro from U.C. Berkeley.
— Understand the blockchain in 2 minutes(2:00)
— How does a blockchain work(5:59)
— Bitcoin: How Cryptocurrencies Work(9:25)
— Andreas Antonopoulos Intro to Bitcoin(37:16)
— Blockchain at Berkeley Introduction(48:29)
- What is Bitcoin(1:36)V2 of the most viewed bitcoin video ever
- Vox’s How bitcoin is like the internet in the 80s (1:55)
- The Guardian’s Bitcoin made simple (3:17)
- Vox Why people are buying cartoon cats on the blockchain (7:34) To help you understand all the different ways blockchain can be used.
- 19 industries the blockchain will disrupt(9:57) A quick explainer of the various ways blockchain can disrupt different industries.
- Khan Academy Intro Video(11:01) Can be a bit hard to understand, but the question/answer section beneath the video will really help you work through the material.
- TED TalkHow blockchain is changing money and business (18:50)
- TEDxMorrisstownBlockchain massively simplified (22:55)
- Alex Tapscott’s Google Talk: Bitcoin Revolution (56:38)
- It’s already posted above, but I’d like to reiterate that this video (and the course it’s a part of) our the best introduction out there: Blockchain at Berkeley Introduction(48:29)