At present, anyone who has heard about NFTs views it as either the next big thing in investments and auctioneering or as a passing fad. However, they tend to focus on the economical side rather than the technical side forgetting that unlike stocks or deeds they are based on code rather than paper, making developers as necessary as economists. As such, despite being a relatively new field of employment, more and more people in the technical field are considering employment or a career change by moving over to a role as a NFT developer.
On its own, an NFT is comparable in function to the above given examples. The bit of code contains an immutable bit of data, signifying and certifying that the object it refers to is authentic and/or the owner of the NFT owns the object it refers to. So, NFT developers are those who have to work with NFTs in terms of creating them, trading them, working with the NFT marketplaces, their career choices, applications of NFTs and possible project roles. As such, this article will cover the prerequisites to be an NFT developer, the career paths available to NFT developers once they complete the prerequisites and some of the common applications, common terms, and other relevant details for NFTs and NFT developers.
Prerequisites to Be an NFT Developer
The prerequisites to be an NFT developer include a theoretical or at least a working knowledge in the following topics:
Theory Behind NFT (Non Fungible Tokens):
This should cover the basics of the major topics in regards to NFTs. This includes not only tokens, but also blockchains, the base standards and applications.
History of Non Fungible Tokens:
This isn’t just a supplementary or useless topic as due to their recent development, many of the technologies used in NFTs in the past, are still in use and understanding their working can give a logical understanding behind their usage.
The Working behind Tokens:
In terms of tokens, outside of just an overview, crypto tokens, categorisation and generation are all topics to be covered.
NFT Supporting Technologies: NFTs are based on several different technologies. These include blockchains, storage platforms, various blockchain and NFT standards and Front-end frameworks.
NFT Operations: This includes making, minting, buying and selling NFTs.
NFT Marketplaces: This includes walkthroughs or operational guides on the common NFT marketplaces, how to create NFT collections and Metamask wallets and launching an NFT store.
Smart Contracts: This includes writing Smart Contracts, deploying smart contracts along with working with IDEs.
Common Terms that NFT Developers Should Know:
These are some of the common terms that should be known to anyone who intends to work as an NFT developer. They may not be directly connected to NFTs but are still relevant to NFT developers as they are often connected to blockchains, platforms or other subjects that are related to NFTs.
Smart contracts are computer programs or transaction protocols which function to automatically execute, control or document events and actions in accordance with the terms of a preset contract or agreement. Such programs or protocols ensure that there are fewer intermediaries required for the contract decision along with reduction in costs of both arbitration, fraud losses and enforcement. While smart contracts are most commonly associated with cryptocurrencies, NFTs are also another common users of such smart contracts, and as such NFT developers have to be aware on how to use them.
The ethereum blockchain is the most common blockchain for use as an NFT. As such, they are a staple for NFT developers and so any newcomer on the path to be an NFT developer must familiarise themselves with it.
React NFT Gallery:
This is a react component that can be used to render any Ethereum address’ NFTs as a gallery and the address assets are taken care of by the OpenSeaAPI. However, it is still in beta stage at the point of writing this. As such, while not compulsory, it’s a subject that anyone who intends to be an NFT developer can cover to be ahead of the curve.
ERC & EIP:
They are acronyms that refer to Ethereum request for comments and Ethereum improvement proposal respectively. The former is a large subset of the latter where ERC20 at present forms approximately 70% of tokens that exist on the Ethereum contract. EIP focuses on the Ethereum core functions and ERCs are used to define decentralised application layer functions and designs.
Non Fungible Token Standards:
Outside of ethereum as presented above, there are other standards with different properties. So despite Ethereum being the most popular token standard, there are other standards such as Cardani Flow, Solana and Tezos. As such, while any aspiring NFT developer can cover the Ethereum blockchain and be competent, knowing about these other growing standards can help advance an NFT developer’s qualifications.
This is at present, the most dominant Non fungible token marketplace. Its physical location was based in New York City and valued in the billions. For many newcomers who want to become NFT developers but not as freelancers but rather as permanent employees, OpenSea and similar NFT marketplaces are where they can seek employment.
Possible Projects for Budding NFT Developers
While working as a potential NFT developer, it is advisable to work on several NFT projects to add to your portfolio. Some of the possible NFT projects include:
NFT App Such as a Game:
Apps or decentralised apps are apps that are based on the Ethereum blockchain. As such, they are not centralised or limited to a single computer. As such, they possess similarity to apps based on mobile devices or websites though possessing peer to peer support. Though many considered Apps to be limited with just bitcoin, current developments include working with more commonly associated apps such as games.
Working with NFTs invariably includes some amount of work with their marketplaces. As such, if one wants to work behind the scenes with NFTs, they should also work with the technical aspects of Smart Contracts including their working and testing, prerequisites and dependencies and working through examples.
One of the most well publicised roles of NFTs are in digital arts, as such, working with NFT galleries is advisable.
Common Interview Questions for NFT Developers:
At present, there are very few questions that are tailored to NFT developers. As such, while interviewing potential NFT developers, the questions tend to be more personalised rather than focusing on technical aspects. However, some of the possible potential questions for NFT developers include:
- What are the common features of NFTs that are inferrable from the name? As an NFT developer, what feature is advantageous for which application?
- What are the common features of Blockchain and what features make them a good option for NFT developers to use in NFTs?
- What are the components of the Blockchain ecosystem?
- What are the consensus mechanisms available for a blockchain and what is suitable for an NFT developer?
- What is the relevance of the Ethereum standard and what other standards are available to NFT developers?
- Define ERC and EPI.
- What are ledgers and what relevance do they have to NFT developers?
- The other half i.e. the personalised questions meant for NFT developers include:
- What previous experience do you have as an NFT developer?
- What are your favoured tools as an NFT developer?
Job Opportunities for NFT Developers
Outside of the presented role as a NFT developer, additional roles are available to those who cover the given pre-requisites above. These roles include:
Blockchain Expert: This just refers to a professional, who possesses a thorough understanding of blockchain technology. They are used in building blockchain-based applications for various companies and there are often several variations under it.
Blockchain developer: They are focused on software design, integrating operating architecture, and selection of computer systems.
Blockchain Architect: Blockchain architects are responsible for working with various R&D teams and are focused on infusing blockchain in building and designing various solutions that leverage cross asset frameworks.
Blockchain Consultant: They are responsible for advising companies and institutions that want to adopt Blockchains. Due to their knowledge of blockchain technologies, they can advise in regards to the technical aspects.
Smart Contract Developer: Smart contracts are one of the prerequisites mentioned above in order to be an NFT developer. As such, once completed, instead of just being limited to being just an NFT developer or one of the many variants of Blockchain experts, they can focus entirely on smart contracts.
Roles for NFT Developers
Outside of the potential roles mentioned above, within NFT developer roles itself, there are job opportunities available in various fields. These include
Apps (especially in gaming):
Games as a medium are already familiar with the idea of digital equivalents to represent physical values and they are just a subset of all possible applications. Similarly, Apps or distributed applications are the variant of apps that are not tied down to a single device but distributed, quite often through a blockchain with peer to peer support. One of the first common dApps involved cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and at present, they also include NFTs and games with NFTs. As such, it is an obvious career path for NFT developers to head to, to work with the gaming industry in developing games that work with NFTs, which if not a central mechanism is still quite often a key feature with collectibles, in-game credits and exclusive skins being some of the many monetizable features.
This is where NFTs in general can achieve credibility among critics who see it as being powered by nothing more than collective faith rather than their technical abilities. Many legal documentations or old archived documents form the basis of precedents for many laws, have archaeological, historical or cultural significance or are otherwise extremely valuable and as such, are preserved for centuries. However, preservation can only go so far and due to their fragility, it would be prudent to create digital copies of the documents. Moreover, such digital copies must be authenticated to prevent any tampered or edited copies to be passed down as authentic scans. As such, NFT developers can act as authenticators here, to ensure that whatever scans are provided have been authenticated and are accurate copies of the original. This is just one example and overall, NFT developers can certify anything that is unique among digital data.
The problem with arts in general, excluding the subjectivity with taste is in terms of physical limitations. There are literally not enough galleries, museums and showrooms to showcase every bit of art that deserves the limelight and for many artists that possess technical skills but no creativity or imagination, forgeries or copies are an attractive career option. To make matters worse for artists outside of the physical medium, there is very little appreciation for the time, effort and imagination given in creating arts in the digital realm, which isn’t helped by the simple copy and paste functions making the idea of authenticity laughable. As such, the NFT developer serves as a mixture of curator, appraiser and auctioneer for such digital arts. While the more conservative art collectors may scoff at the idea of owning pixel formations, let us not forget that these people essentially own what can be classified as nothing more than canvas smeared with pigments in medium (somewhat literally in the case of modern or abstract art). In the end, art is subjective.
At present, NFTs can take data from multiple formats and NFT developers can utilise this to create NFTs for the music industry as well as adding to the releases by also supporting additional features outside of just an audio file. This has led to the NFT music industry growing from millions to billions literally within the span of a year. At present, musicians keep only half of the profit from their works with the other half going to distributors and their platforms, legal, etc. As such, even at the top on many music distribution platforms, profits are surprisingly low or in some cases, royalties remain unpaid due to the bureaucracy leaching the profits, something that NFT developers can help prevent. The NFT developers who work there serve as a means of allowing musicians to save their money by collaborating with musicians to keep ownership rights to their music. Not only does this give creator control to the creator, by collaborating with NFT developers, they can resell NFTs to different platforms while keeping unalterable records in regards to proof of ownership.
NFT developers are a relatively new career choice among all the various software developers available today. However, many new graduates, freelancers, even long-time professionals now consider a career as an NFT developer and are preparing for it. As such, despite being a niche field, if one is looking for a career change, being an NFT developer is a fresh option.