Is Solidity Hard To Learn?
The demand for Solidity jobs has grown exponentially since Ethereum first created its genesis block in 2015.
Even as the crypto industry faces some serious market headwinds – leading to major crypto firms furloughing staff, reducing salaries, and downsizing teams – the demand for talented Solidity developers remains.
The only difference is that the gaudier end of the annual salary scale – with some making as much as $500,000 a year during the height of the 2021 bullrun – has taken a dip along with the market.
Nevertheless, starting salaries and compensation packages remain well above the average rate for entry-level to senior-level Solidity developers.
That makes learning Solidity an enticing proposition for both aspiring and established developers who desire to work in the trenches of web3: the next generation of the internet.
That said, is Solidity hard to learn? Is learning Solidity worth the time and effort moving into 2024? Let's find out.
Solidity 101: What is It?
Solidity is a statically typed, object-oriented, and high-level programming language used for implementing smart contracts and used to create decentralized apps (dapps), which are stored on the Ethereum blockchain.
Developers can write Solidity smart contracts for a wide array of use cases on Ethereum, such as decentralized finance, voting, governance, DAOs, multi-sig wallets, blind auctions, and dapps that are deployable on any blockchain compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).
Solidity developers can find work in web3 in its diverse fields. From UI/UX design to data-centric and security-focused roles, there is something for every developer seeking to make their mark in web3 – and get paid well above the industry standard for web developers.
There's no better time to start learning Solidity than now, with companies in web3 continuing to build out the infrastructure of the next iteration of the internet and looking to onboard the best talent in the world – in an industry at the forefront of technology.
Why Learn Solidity?
Besides the obvious financial incentives and the prestige of working at the forefront of innovation, Solidity is an excellent choice for developers with a keen interest in building smart contracts and working with blockchain technology. Let's take a look at some of the most salient reasons and benefits that should make you consider learning Solidity in 2023 and pursuing a career in web3.
1) Solidity is the Leading Smart Contract Programing Language
Solidity is, by far, the most prominent and widely-used smart contract programming language. Ethereum – essentially the largest smart contract platform and ecosystem by market size – runs on Solidity. In more technical terms, the behavior of accounts in the Ethereum global state is governed by smart contracts, which are basically programs deployed on the blockchain.
Moreover, as we mentioned earlier, Solidity was developed to work with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) and the blockchains that support it. Learning it will give you an advantage by helping you absorb both beginning and advanced Solidity concepts – besides understanding the inner workings of distributed ledger technologies. There's no better way to do so than to learn Solidity.
2) Solidity Can Be (A Little) Tricky
As a matter of fact, total beginners can and have picked up Solidity smart contract development without having prior experience with it – and gone on to have successful web3 careers.
3) Solidity Addresses Issues with Bitcoin's Architecture
Solidity was first conceptualized by Ethereum co-founder and computer scientist Gavin Wood in 2014. This concept was then taken forward by Ethereum team lead and Solidity creator Christian Reitweissner, who helmed the Solidity language development team in 2015, which he continues on to this very day.
The idea behind Solidity arose due to the need for blockchain platforms to have a specialized backend language, considering the similarity of application frontends. Solidity, therefore, is a programming language meant to serve as the backend and foundation on which decentralized applications are built from.
In particular, Solidity was primarily focused on improving Bitcoin architecture issues as far as scalability and productivity were concerned. Solidity developers need to ensure that they integrate proper, flexible blockchain integration functions with programs to prevent outages. Blockchain and Solidity engineers, to this end, work with product managers and business analysts, not to mention creatives and other interdisciplinary teams to build bespoke smart contracts.
4) Solidity Takes Time to Master
And if you're a beginner, take heart – all good things take time. In general, most beginners to Solidity take from one up to six months before they get the hang of it. Part-time learners will end up on the longer end of the time frame, while those taking Solidity courses, particularly whole-day bootcamps, generally place themselves on the faster end of the spectrum.
Most introductory Solidity courses focus on the fundamentals that every blockchain developer should have a deep knowledge of, such as:
- Blockchain/distributed ledger technology;
- Smart contracts;
- Full-stack blockchain development;
- Fungible and non-fungible tokens (NFTs);
- Building simple decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols;
- Python; and
You need to crawl to be tall – and in order to that, you need to learn the fundamentals of web3, blockchain, and Ethereum to do that.
5) Learn the Fundamental Concepts of Solidity
As with any discipline, a degree of mastery of a technology's context and concepts provides the essential conditions for a developer's future success. Besides absorbing as much technical knowledge as you can by taking Solidity courses – not to mention practical experience implementing that knowledge – you will need to drill down on mastering the theoretical, contextual, and philosophical principles governing web3, blockchain, and decentralization.
Such knowledge will help you create smart contracts that focus on the narrative and identity of web3 and decentralization and keep high performance and low gas fees as part and parcel of the applications you create.
Remix – the integrated development environment (IDE) for Solidity – is an excellent tool (and some say prerequisite) to achieve the latter. If you wish to debug, assemble, and create efficient, light Solidity smart contract code, Remix is exactly what Solidity programmers need.
6) Work-Life-Culture Balance and Above-Average Salaries Await Solidity Devs
You've already probably heard all about the fat money contracts, generous benefits, and astronomical salaries web3 devs make. Well, the truth is, much of that is a lot of bunk and hype driven by the previous market bullrun. As a result of the market downturn, salaries have decreased across the board.
But here's the thing: Solidity developers still make above-average salaries and good benefits due to their unique skillset which companies in the crypto and fintech space are still in hot pursuit of.
That's not to mention the opportunities for remote work and travel that many developers are offered. Remote work, travel, and excellent work-life balance are reasons enough for many to take the Solidity red pill.
7) Solidity Does Have Its Vulnerabilities
A good number of Solidity's disadvantages is due to its immutable nature – in essence, you don't get "changies" on smart contract once it's been deployed on-chain. That's why writing solid, efficient, and secure code from the get-go is a must.
Moreover, Solidity is susceptible to threats and attacks. Many attacks, for instance, stem from attackers subverting smart contract logic in order to drain the protocol of its currency besides compromising user data on it.
There is no perfect programming language without security flaws. Nevertheless, Ethereum's status as the global settlement layer for web3 secures Solidity's status as the pre-eminent smart contract language that will drive much of the innovation and development in the future.
8) Learning Solidity Opens Up Career Advancement and Networking Opportunities
Another essential aspect of being a successful Solidity developer is by being active and open to participating in building community with others in the web3 space. That means you have to put yourself out there and engage with other fellow devs – and join the conversation on platforms like Discord, Twitter, or Github. Hell, even LinkedIn!
One of the best ways to cut your teeth as a Solidity developer is to begin taking on freelance work. It's never easy to begin a freelance enterprise, but the support and connections you make from the community will be invaluable. Working with as many clients as you can, joining hackathons and events, and getting word about your talents as a Solidity dev out there will establish your name in the scene.
The important thing is to start somewhere.
The Final Word on Learning Solidity: Is It Hard to Learn?
Solidity isn't a walk in the park by any means.
In fact, it's probably one of the most challenging programming languages to implement and master out there. Yes, learning it is easy and many programmers can learn it in days, if not weeks.
The real challenge in Solidity lies in creating efficient smart contracts that work the first time, every time – because there's no way you can change it again. This is a task that requires compromises because of its layers of complexity.
That said, learn as much as you can, and practice. Use formal verification to ensure that your smart contract works as expected and follows your requirements.
Most problems Solidity developers – regardless of skill level – arise from failing to consider what is at stake rather than problems with learning the language itself. External and internal threat actors are rubbing their hands and are only all too willing to breach smart contracts to get their hands on protocol liquidity.
Ultimately, the challenge lies in working with smart contract auditors and performing extensive validation before deploying your Solidity smart contract on-chain. Many programmers, especially those who are making the shift to web3, are used to a crash-debug-repeat process. In Solidity, remember: you only get one shot.