Crypto-related employment rates have soared since 2019, new report reveals

We usually look at the cryptocurrency industry from users’ perspective, searching for the next big crypto to explode, analyzing how crypto price volatility might affect traders and investors, what strategies one should adopt to manage risks and expand their portfolio, or how easy it is for people to buy Bitcoin with credit card or debit card. But we rarely think about what’s happening on the other side of the fence, in the crypto employment scene, and how the factors that influence crypto trading and investing also affect the people working in the sector. 

Luckily, K33, a crypto research platform, has taken the time to investigate this specific area and provide us with some very insightful and interesting data in this respect in their most recent report titled The Emerging Crypto Industry. So, let’s take a closer look at the study’s findings and see how employment rates in the crypto industry have evolved in recent years. 

Crypto employment count shows significant increase 

The cryptocurrency industry has been marred by several unfortunate events over the past couple of years, from company collapses and scandals to the most recent crypto winter which caused crypto prices to fall from unprecedented highs. But despite all the turmoil and drama happening lately, the number of people working in the sector at the moment is considerably higher than it was four years ago, before the last crypto bull run. 

According to K33’s report, there are currently over 187,000 active crypto professionals, which marks an increase of nearly 160% from 2019, when the number of people working in the field amounted to approximately 73,000. The data also shows that the industry reached the highest number of workers in 2021, in the midst of the latest bull market, when crypto prices reached new record highs and the employment count surged to 211,000. This means the crypto winter that followed soon after led to an 11% drop in employment rates, causing more than 23,000 people to lose their jobs. 

However, the fact that the headcount is still higher compared to 2019 figures proves there’s a high demand for skilled crypto professionals in the market. Data provided by other crypto companies also seem to support K33’s claims. For example, crypto exchange Kraken revealed that they have supplemented their staff by over 150% since 2019. The company’s chief people officer, Pranesh Anthapur, explained that bear markets don’t necessarily translate into massive layoffs. Quite the opposite, these periods of decline emphasize the need to recruit and retain talented individuals that can help crypto firms navigate difficult times and further their development. 

Hardware wallet firm Trezor took a similar approach and increased the number of employees by 120% in the four-year timespan, stating that their main focus is to develop and retain top talent in the long run, irrespective of the bull or bear market cyclicity. 

It’s also true that several crypto firms have resorted to layoffs over the past year or so, in order to stay afloat in the wake of the crypto winter. At the other end of the spectrum stand big-name companies which despite their large operations have always kept a very small number of employees. Tether, the largest stablecoin in terms of trading volume and market cap, provides a good example in this respect, with a team formed of only 60 employees. They have declared that hiring a limited number of professionals allows them to prioritize their well-being, as proved by the lack of layoffs during bear markets. 

China emerges as a major crypto employment market  

When it comes to crypto workforce distribution around the world, it comes as no surprise that Western countries boast the largest number of crypto professionals. According to statistics, almost 55% of all crypto employees are located in North America, with 29% of workers living in the United States. On the Asian continent, India leads the ranking as the largest employer in the crypto sector, accounting for 20% of the workforce in the region. 

But the biggest surprise comes from China which also plays an important role in the crypto labor market. Given China’s harsh stance on digital currencies, one wouldn’t expect it to be a major crypto employer.  Chinese authorities have placed a blanket ban on all crypto transactions in order to limit financial crime and prevent economic instability. But despite this drastic approach, China ranks as the second largest crypto employer in Asia, sourcing 15% of the regional workforce. 

K33’s report also notes that the global distribution of the crypto workforce is supported by the structure of crypto companies which enables remote work. Therefore, these firm can set up their headquarters in crypto-friendly jurisdictions and have people from all over the world working for them. 

Top jobs in the crypto sector 

When it comes to job opportunities in the crypto sphere, most crypto professionals (almost 60%) work at exchanges, brokerages or firms that facilitate crypto transactions, as expected given that crypto assets are mostly used as a trading or investment venue. 

NFTs experienced a staggering rise in 2022 only to take a back seat with the onset of the crypto winter. Regardless of their waning popularity, the NFT sector continues to provide a considerable number of jobs for crypto professionals, with over 10,000 people working in the field. 

Last, but not least, we also have a notable number of employees working on blockchain-related projects, be it protocols, analytics and so on. Those who don’t fall into any of the categories mentioned above work in less popular subsectors.  

Final thoughts 

Crypto dynamics keep changing with time and employment rates in the industry follow along, as evidenced by recent statistics. If there’s one thing that we can learn from the data provided by research companies is that cryptocurrency remains a very lucrative sector to work in, so there are plenty of opportunities for those looking to break into the field. However, one should also keep in mind that volatility is a chief characteristic of the crypto market, so workforce demand and supply can suffer significant fluctuations over time.