Exploring Careers in the Blockchain Industry: Job Tiers and the Role of Protocols

Alessio Frateily

Hatched by Alessio Frateily

Sep 09, 2023

4 min read


Exploring Careers in the Blockchain Industry: Job Tiers and the Role of Protocols


The blockchain industry is booming with innovative projects and companies that aim to revolutionize various sectors. However, not all projects are created equal, and it is important to understand the different job tiers and the role of protocols within this ecosystem. In this article, we will explore the Blockchain Job Tier List and delve into the concept of protocols as minimally extractive coordinators.

The Blockchain Job Tier List:

Every industry has its innovators and derivative projects, and the blockchain industry is no different. The innovators are the trailblazers who come up with groundbreaking ideas, while the derivatives are built upon these ideas. For example, Ethereum is considered an innovator, while Fantom is a derivative. Similarly, Uniswap is an innovator, while Sushiswap is a derivative. OpenSea is an innovator, while LooksRare is a derivative.

However, there is another tier in the blockchain industry that falls below derivatives, known as cash grabs and scams. These projects aim to build as little as possible and collect as much money as they can, often leading to negative outcomes.

Understanding Job Tiers:

To navigate the blockchain job market, it is crucial to understand the different job tiers. Here is a breakdown of the tiers:

S Tier:

  • Senior protocol engineer at established and fundamentally innovative blockchains like Ethereum or Solana.
  • Architect for tokenomics and protocol design of fundamentally innovative DeFi applications.
  • Lead auditor at reputable companies like Trail of Bits, OpenZeppelin, or Consensys.

A Tier:

  • Lead Protocol engineer at EVM derivative blockchains.
  • Smart contract engineer at top-tier DeFi protocols.
  • Lead auditor at legitimate auditing firms.

B Tier:

  • Junior protocol engineer at derivative blockchains.
  • Smart contract engineer at legitimate DeFi protocols.
  • Auditor at derivative but legitimate auditing firms.

C Tier:

  • Builds token ecosystems for small but legitimate projects.
  • DeFi Engineer at derivative protocols.
  • Lead DeFi engineer at questionable DeFi protocols.

D Tier:

  • Freelance NFT and basic ERC20 token developer for small projects.
  • Smart contract auditing for low-quality projects.

F Tier:

  • Any job that accepts developers with only an online certificate from a developer education website.
  • Produces poorly written smart contracts and lacks security knowledge.

Actionable Advice for Advancement:

  • 1. Focus on developing strong programming skills: Reputable blockchain companies prioritize developers who can write production-grade code. It is essential to showcase your ability to solve problems and understand tradeoffs in different programming languages.
  • 2. Specialize in relevant fields: Prior experience in cryptography, distributed systems, systems programming, or cybersecurity can significantly enhance your chances of advancing in the blockchain industry. This expertise is highly valued and can potentially fast-track your career growth.
  • 3. Gain relevant experience: To reach the A tier, it is advisable to accumulate at least two years of intense and relevant experience. Additionally, having web2 experience that demonstrates your competence as a programmer is essential.

The Role of Protocols as Minimally Extractive Coordinators:

Protocols play a vital role in the blockchain industry as coordinators of exchange between suppliers (businesses) and consumers. While businesses are incentivized to maximize extraction and profitability, protocols should strive to be minimally extractive. This means that protocols should facilitate exchange efficiently without extracting excessive value.

Just like the lean and efficient routers of the internet, crypto's protocols should aim for minimal extraction. The less extractive a protocol is, the more exchange it can facilitate, ultimately benefiting the entire ecosystem.


The blockchain industry offers exciting career opportunities across various job tiers. By understanding the different tiers and focusing on developing the necessary skills and experience, individuals can advance their careers in this rapidly evolving field. Moreover, protocols play a crucial role as minimally extractive coordinators, ensuring efficient and fair exchange within the blockchain ecosystem.

Actionable Advice Summary:

  • 1. Develop strong programming skills and showcase problem-solving abilities.
  • 2. Specialize in relevant fields such as cryptography or distributed systems.
  • 3. Accumulate intense and relevant experience and demonstrate competence in web2 programming.

By following these actionable advice, individuals can position themselves for success and growth within the blockchain industry.

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