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Blockchain developer is the fastest-growing job in America, according to LinkedIn

JP Mangalindan
·Chief Tech Correspondent

Blockchain developer is this year’s fastest-growing job in the U.S., according to LinkedIn, which released its 2018 U.S. Emerging Jobs report on Thursday.

Despite reports that data science roles may be the most in-demand jobs, the professional social network found that “Blockchain developer” was the fastest-growing job over the last 12 months, with 33 times growth year-over-year, and demand coming from companies such as IBM (IBM), Consensys, and Chainyard in cities including San Francisco, New York, and Atlanta. Machine learning engineer ranked second place, trailed by application sales executive, machine learning specialist, and professional medical representative, respectively.

Source: LinkedIn
Source: LinkedIn

Despite Bitcoin’s (BTC) extreme volatility this year — its value has fallen from nearly $20,000 last December to under $4,000 as of Thursday — the cryptocurrency served as an excellent proof of concept for its underlying blockchain technology, with companies ranging from IBM (IBM) to Spotify (SPOT) experimenting with ways to deploy blockchain technology. IBM revealed this week that telecommunications firms in India could soon be using its blockchain tech for mobile numbers and the Do Not Call registry. Spotify, meanwhile, is looking to use blockchain to match royalties with rights holders by integrating data such as timestamps.

What remains to be seen, however, is whether the demand for blockchain developers will remain over the next few years. It’s worth noting that “blockchain” didn’t appear anywhere in the top 20 emerging jobs in 2017, while “machine learning engineer” topped the list last year.

“Only time will tell what applications this still-nascent technology [blockchain] has, particularly outside of the cryptocurrency space and more generally in ordinary business functions,” LinkedIn Chief Economist Guy Berger told Yahoo Finance on Thursday. “I think it’s still going to be a speculative set of skills and occupations until it [blockchain] takes more hold and turns from more of a venture to something more concrete.”

Meanwhile, LinkedIn reports that skills such as oral communication and people management remain in extremely high-demand, despite six out of the 15 top emerging jobs this year being related to artificial intelligence and ongoing chatter that robots are displacing human workers. Indeed, job candidates who excelled in both soft skills were hired at faster rates compared with people who lacked them, LinkedIn reported.

Source: LinkedIn
Source: LinkedIn

“We sometimes underestimate how important these skills are,” Berger added. “We think all the time about STEM skills, about tech skills, about learning to code. … But really soft skills are some of the most durable skills out there, because we’re always in our world going to need to be talking to people. In terms of addressing it, people can invest in speaking skills, in presentation skills. These are skills you need in every kind of job.”

Translation? Blockchain developer may be this year’s trendiest job, but mastering the ability to collaborate and communicate well in the workplace will likely get job seekers further, regardless of industry.

JP Mangalindan is the Chief Tech Correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Email story tips and musings to jpm@oath.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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