Web3 developer skills are in demand, but with the industry rapidly evolving, qualifying for the role can feel like you’re trying to hit a moving target. Give yourself a leg up with this in-depth guide for newcomers. You’ll learn what Web3 developers do, how much you can expect to earn, and the steps to becoming a Web3 developer.
This guide is based on our own experience becoming Web3 developers at SlashAuth and the skills we’re looking for in our Web3 developer vacancies.
What is a Web3 developer?
Web3 developers build apps designed to run on decentralized peer-to-peer networks. Web3 developers play a big role in the progression of these decentralized ecosystems and help create the apps that live within them.
Before we dive into the specifics of the role, it’s worth briefly touching on how Web3 became a thing.
Web3 has risen to prominence on the back of the Bitcoin blockchain — the OG digital currency on a public ledger. If you haven't already, you might want to read the Bitcoin whitepaper now.
Web3 differs from its predecessor, Web2, in that Web3 users own their content and, thanks to smart contracts, know what to expect with future updates. (No more crying yourself to sleep because the Web2 game developers nerfed your warlock's spells.)
As Web3 has grown in size as a community, so have the number of developer roles. The day-to-day of these roles vary widely but share a common thread of applying the decentralized approach of Web3 with an emphasis on:
- New technology
Web3 developer job description
A Web3 developer job description often includes phrases like "fast-paced environment", "project tracking", and "working with the community".
Skills in mathematics are something that you may or may not need. Some projects require little mathematical aptitude, while others require a deep mathematical background. It depends on the kinds of blockchains being leveraged by the developer.
A passion for smart contracts and a close relationship with the Web3 community are also valuable.
What does a Web3 developer typically do?
Web3 developers work on projects ranging from cryptocurrency, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and gaming to verification projects solving issues in Web3. Examples include Web3 access control projects like SlashAuth, the cryptocurrency Ethereum, NFT chimps from BAYC, games like Axie Infinity, and other development tools like the ones you can find in our Web3 development tool top 8.
No matter what you're building in Web3, you'll most likely be putting together existing resources to save you time. You'll probably also be interacting with the community around your project. This could be when you're:
- Debugging an app
- Planning upcoming features
- Setting up solid smart contracts
- Using powerful APIs to call microservices
- Calling multiple blockchains with a tool like QuickNode
- Gathering feedback for your next project with secure forms
One of the biggest challenges for developers is building Web3 apps that combine speed and security. As a Web3 developer, you'll most likely have to focus on optimizing code that interacts with blockchains in order to reduce costs and increase speed. Because of this, knowing Web2 best practices for database development and deployment can be an advantage.
Many developers in Web3 are involved in the entire project from strategy and design to deployment and updates. Team sizes are often small and can be composed of part-timers and full-time staff. This offers the opportunity to learn quickly and grow your exposure to new challenges. On the flip side, it can also be stressful with tight deadlines and limited support.
Why work in Web3 development?
Asides from losing sleep, doing all the things, and not knowing what your next workday brings, there are many other reasons to work in Web3 development.
- You’ll be part of a rapidly growing space that often makes the world a better place with mind-blowing innovation
- You’ll be indispensable and work on projects you truly care about
- You might get rich (we can't make promises, but the opportunities are there)
- You will get to share wins with colleagues and a community that cheers you on
If you want to make the world a better place, Web3 is also a good way to make a contribution. Web3 developers are key to projects that:
- Cut out expensive middlemen like banks and government
- Donate to people in need (Crypto to Ukraine)
- Help artists profit off their art – even as it resells (NFTs)
- Help gamers profit from playing, buying skins etc
- Reclaim privacy from tech giants
Best of all, Web3 developer salaries are usually good, often include other benefits (more on this below), and many positions are fully remote offering you a flexible lifestyle.
Perhaps the real question is why wouldn't you want to work in Web3 development?
How many Web3 developers are there?
Pinning down the exact number of Web3 developers is tricky. This is partially due to the private nature of many in the Web3 space and partially due to a lack of oversight in this new industry.
The numbers out there vary widely. Some Web3 developer tools boast user bases with hundreds of thousands of developers. In contrast, the Web3 investment company Electric Capital claims that the number of active Web3 developers was exactly 18,416 as of December 2021.
Electric Capital used data from half a million open source code repositories to create their Developer Report. They list caveats to their findings like Web3 developers waiting to open-source their code, and some working on testing and engineering rather than contributing unique code.
Our best guess is that the actual number of Web3 developers is closer to 20,000 active Web3 developers than 200,000.
According to the report, this is how the number of active Web3 developers has reached these milestones over the years:
- 2,000 (2017)
- 6,000 (2018)
- 10,000 (2019)
- 10,525 (2020
- 18,416 (2021)
As you can see from the numbers, the number of Web3 developers is growing rapidly. Dive into the Electrical Capital Developer Report for all the details.
Web3 developer salary: How much do Web3 developers make?
Some Web3 developers – like Web2 developers – have profited heavily from their role. As mentioned above, we can't make promises for your career in Web3, but here are some of the Web3 developers that got in early and their estimated net worths:
- Changpeng Zhao (Founder, Binance): $65 Billion
- Brian Armstrong (Co-founder, Coinbase): $6.6 Billion
- Alex Atallah and Devin Finzer (Co-founders, OpenSea): $2.2 Billion each
- Vitalik Buterin (Co-founder of Ethereum): More than $1 Billion
While this list holds names of people that are now CEOs, they all have backgrounds in computer science and have been involved in developing their own Web3 projects.
You may not want to risk it all by building your own Web3 project. But there are still a lot of benefits to be had besides the salary itself. This varies from project to project. Some will offer a fiat bonus, compensation for your home office expenses, tokens, or even stock options.
Web3 developer salaries vary depending on experience. The following salary figures give a snapshot of what you can earn.
- Junior Web3 developer: $60,000
- Blockchain developer: $100,000
- Mobile Web3 developer: $114,000
- Smart contract developer: $120,000
- Lead Web3 developer: $140,000
Web3 developers in North America, Europe, and the quickly growing nation of "remote" take home the highest Web3 developer salaries.
Some junior Web3 developers earn as little as $10,000 per year. However, these positions often offer quick advances to higher-paying positions for talented developers.
Let's take a look closer at the roadmap and how you can get started.
Web3 developer roadmap: How to get into Web3 development
A good way to make your start in Web3 development is to learn one of the programming languages used in Web3. These include:
- Rust for blockchain and smart contract development
You might want to take a look at the salary average before diving too deep into a particular language. Of course, considering your own motivation for becoming a Web3 developer will also be helpful.
That said, we don’t recommend basing your Web3 career path on Web2. In Web2, it’s common advice to build a portfolio with sample projects for wooing potential employers. But things move so quickly in Web3 that you risk wasting your time.
We recommend you find projects you care about and try to contribute to them in some way. This will help you learn in a production environment, show that you care about the community, and help you build a portfolio simultaneously. This could lead to a full-time job related to the same project or build your network so recruiters come looking for you.
Web3 development learning resources
Since open-source plays such a big part in Web3, there is an abundance of free resources for you to get started with. First off, you'd be wise to get familiar with the decentralized concepts, blockchain technology, and the common Web3 developer stack. From there we'd recommend taking some free courses and tutorials to get a taste of Web3 development.
Free Web3 learning resources
- A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System Bitcoin whitepaper by Satoshi Nakamoto
- Ethereum Whitepaper by Vitalik Buterin
- A Developer's Guide to the Web3 Stack blog by Web3.university
- Road to Web3 by Alchemy
- Metaschool courses on NFT's, smart contracts, and Ethereum
- Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies course by Princeton University
- Blockchain and Money course by MIT
- CryptoEconomics.Study by CryptoDevHub
- Solidity and Chainlink tutorials by Cryptozombies.io
- The Complete Guide to Full Stack Ethereum and EVM Development by Nader Dabit
- Free practice projects on Buildspace
Web3 Developer communities to learn from
- Bankless DAO on Discord — focused on making banks obsolete
- OpenZeppelin on Discord — an open-source framework for smart contracts
- CryptoDevHub on Discord — a hub for all things crypto development
- Solidity on Discord — the community around Solidity
- Alchemy on Discord — Web3 development platform
Paid Web3 development courses
- NFT Fundamentals (Buy, create, sell)
- The Complete NFT Web Development Course
- Ethereum and Solidity: The Complete Developer's Guide
Web3 Developer skills
Apart from technical understanding and experiences with some of the areas covered above, Web3 developers need a set of soft skills. You should be able to communicate well, work with other humans on teams, deal with tight deadlines, and take responsibility for parts of the project.
Like any other successful developer, a Web3 developer needs a high degree of attention to detail, a drive to solve problems, and a solid scoop of curiosity.
Other soft skills you'll see mentioned in Web3 job postings are:
While you’ve probably got these soft skills covered, be sure to read up on the following Web3 stack before you apply or interview for Web3 developer positions.
Web3 developer stack
The Web3 developer stack consists of four layers:
- Network layer (blockchains)
- Blockchain interaction layer (data access interfaces and block explorers)
- Presentation layer (Web3 libraries, developer environments, and file storage)
- Decentralized applications (data, NFTs, authentication etc.)
Learn more about the layers in the Web3 developer stack at Web3.university.
Web3 development tools
Other popular Web3 development tools worth understanding:
- Next.js – a complete React framework for production
- Ether.js – library for interacting with the Ethereum blockchain
- MetaMask – a popular and trusted crypto wallet that works as a gateway to blockchain-based apps
For a full list of the top Web3 development tools out there, read our post about the best Web3 development tools.
Where to find web3 development jobs?
When you're ready to apply for a job as a Web3 developer, there are many ways to do it. Job boards are still very much a thing and can be a good place to start searching for a job or employer in Web3. You can find posted jobs on these job boards:
If you want to be more proactive, you could also keep an eye on newly funded companies on Crunchbase or check the list of jobs at innovative startups.
You can also find job postings on the SlashAuth career page. Feel free to reach out to us for more info about positions, even if they're not listed. If you’re interested in growing your career as a Web3 developer, we’re interested to hear from you.