Almost All Crypto Employees Take Pay in Fiat, Pantera Study Finds

The median compensation globally among 570 engineers surveyed was $120,000, with those in North America getting $193,000, up 1.5% versus the prior year, based on the study.

AccessTimeIconSep 26, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. UTC

Many crypto-industry employees believe that cryptocurrencies will eventually play a much larger role in the overall financial and payments system.

For now, though, almost all of them take their salaries in government-issued currencies, or "fiat" in the industry lingo.

Some 97% of people in the nascent industry are paid a base salary in fiat, while only 3% are paid in crypto, according to a new study from Pantera Capital, a digital-asset investment firm. The 2023 compensation data was based on 1,046 responses.

And of those who got paid in crypto, the vast majority took the pay in the dollar-linked stablecoins USDC and USDT, with 13% opting for bitcoin (BTC).

The median pay globally among 570 engineers surveyed was $120,000, with those in North America getting $193,000, up 1.5% versus the prior year, according to the study.

That compares with an estimated $166,100 for engineers in North America in traditional tech or "Web2" roles.

"Senior engineers in Web3 make slightly more than their peers in Web2," the Pantera report concluded.

Roughly 88% of roles in the crypto industry are remote, according to the study, contrasted with one estimate of 28% in Web2 roles.

"Due to this global distribution, we don’t anticipate a push in crypto to return to the office," the authors wrote

Executives make $147,363 to $335,400, depending on their companies' stage.

Crypto executives' salaries, by company stage. (Pantera)
Crypto executives' salaries, by company stage. (Pantera)

One in five respondents reported also receiving an initial package of token incentives – averaging $89,000 for non-executive positions and $1.3 million for executives.

Of course, crypto markets are volatile, so the actual values of the packages can fluctuate substantially.

"As a note, it’s important to keep in mind that this figure is subject to a vesting schedule and, without knowing the respective valuation and timing, this number could be taken out of context," according to the report.

Edited by Aoyon Ashraf.


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Bradley Keoun

Bradley Keoun is the managing editor of CoinDesk's Tech & Protocols team. He owns less than $1,000 each of several cryptocurrencies.