DeFi developer salaries defy bear market

Average DeFi engineer salaries jumped to around $180,500 towards the end of 2022 despite market turbulence and crypto market meltdowns, data from Durlston Partners showed


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Those working in the decentralized finance (DeFi) sector have not only weathered the turbulence but have also been pocketing hefty paychecks throughout the chaos.

The cryptocurrency industry, including the DeFi sector, has had its share of peaks and troughs in the last year. Market volatility, the failure of stablecoins like TerraUSD and Luna and the FTX bankruptcy marked the industry’s fallout last year. 

As such, periods of “crypto winter,” where the value of cryptocurrencies takes a significant plunge, have become an accepted phenomenon.

Despite these challenges, those continuing to work in the DeFi sphere seem to be somewhat insulated from the chill. 

Data published by Durlston Partners on July 3 suggests that these professionals are still reaping six-figure salaries — a testament to the resilience and potential of the DeFi sector.

Throughout 2021 and 2022, salaries in the DeFi sector stayed pretty steady, with engineers in the sector earning anywhere between £100,000 ($126,695) to £125,000 ($158,369) on average each quarter, data showed.

Even as crypto markets were having a bit of a meltdown in the last part of 2022 — including some major bankruptcies — Durlston noted that average salaries jumped to as much as £142,500 ($180,541).

The team gathered this data by studying job openings in the global blockchain industry, company and investor surveys, along with interviewing industry experts.

Talent scarcity influencing high salaries in DeFi

It appears that the lucrative compensation packages in the sector are a direct consequence of a shortage of specialized talent.

“The scarcity of DeFi talent, attributable to the highly specialized skillset required for the job, has resulted in a fiercely competitive landscape where employers are offering enticing compensation packages to attract and retain top talent,” Durlston Partners said in its report.

“Despite the decline in confidence in crypto companies and the market freeze, experienced engineers have proven indispensable to the continuity of business operations, leading to stable salaries in the DeFi sector,” it added.

Durlston pointed out that the DeFi world is maturing, and consequently, there’s a growing demand for people with more know-how and experience. This is leading to bigger paychecks. 

The team reckons this trend will keep salaries on a steady rise through 2023.

“As the crypto market recovers and companies regain stability, engineers will become increasingly scarce and highly sought-after resources,” said Meraj Bahram, managing partner at Durlston Partners.

“We expect the remainder of 2023 to show steady salary growth, building on the momentum of the last quarter of 2022.”

Salaries in DeFi vs. Web2 firms

When comparing salaries between the DeFi industry and Web2 firms, the differences at the entry-level are not significant. In the early stages of a career, salaries in both sectors tend to be relatively comparable.

According to Indeed, the average annual salary for software engineers at Google is $146,985, while at Facebook, it is higher with an average of $189,416.

Job openings in DeFi

There are many such open roles in the industry, according to DeFi Jobs. One is a senior engineer position for a quant trading platform at OKX, with a salary of up to $247,000. 

Another opportunity is for an infrastructure engineer at layer-2 blockchain OAK Network, offering a salary up to $250,000.

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