Working as a developer, you always have to be in the loop with the latest updates in your industry, as well as with the latest job trends. And right now there is an increasing demand for developers who can program virtual reality experiences. Whether you are just at the beginning of the road or wish for a new specialization, becoming a virtual reality developer is a good choice.
What does the Virtual Reality Job Environment Look Like?
We discussed the state of AR and VR jobs in a recent article, indicating an astounding 93% increase in augmented and virtual reality gaming job demands on the largest job site in the world, Indeed.com. This trend will not continue for a very long time, as the market reaches the saturation point.
So if you want to become a virtual reality developer and secure a good job, this is the moment to do it. You have the advantage of still being in the first wave of specialized developers and will have the time to acquire skills and professional experience before the next wave of developers joins the industry.
So, what does it take to become a virtual reality developer?
1. Acquire the Basic Skills
The first skill you will need as a virtual reality developer is in the 3D area: 3D object modeling and scanning, 3D games engines, 360-degree photos and videos. 3D development, according to the State of the Developer Nation survey, relies on C# and C++ programming languages.
These languages are used by the most popular game development engines you will work with:
- Unity—uses C# as the main programming language
- Unreal Engine—uses a combination of C++ and a node-based programming language (Blueprints Visual Scripting).
If you already are a developer, you are probably familiar with these languages. If you are a beginner, you can opt between formal training at colleges and university and online courses on platforms such as Coursera, EdX, Udemy, Lynda, etc.
2. Pick Your Specialty
Developers are not a sort of jack-of-all-trades. Some of them specialize in user experience (UX), others in user interface (UI). Trying to excel at both will not get you anywhere—you will always be rather better at one over the other, but never reach your highest potential. At the very beginning, explore each of these two key roles, but pick the one you feel most comfortable with for your professional specialization.
3. Decide on the Platform you Want to Work On
As we have stated above, there are two main virtual reality development platforms: Unity and Unreal Engine. Each virtual reality developer specializes in one of these and focuses on a specific category of devices: mobile phones, desktop computer, or web-based experiences.
This is called finding your niche and it is very important in determining how much work you expect to get not only at present, but also 5 to 10 years from now.
4. Join a Community of Developers
You will not succeed on your own as a virtual reality developer. Find communities—they are usually grouped around programming language platform websites and device manufacturers’ online communities.
For instance, you can join Google’s VR developers community, HTC VIVE’s Developer portal, or Unity’s Developer Dashboard.
5. Take Advantage of Free Resources
Aside from professional skills, a virtual reality developer also needs a “toolkit” of resources to use in creating VR apps and games. Some of these resources are:
- Software development kits (SDKs) which range from free for HTC VIVE, to very expensive (around $3,000 for Microsoft HoloLens)
- 3D models from online resources such as TurboSquid, Free3D, CG Trader, or Sketchfab
- Tutorials from Unity and Unreal Engine
Last but not least, consider relocating to a city where virtual reality developer games are in great demand, such as: New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Jose or Atlanta.