Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) aren’t just changing video games; they’re changing the way that businesses do business. Both technologies have a wide range of uses and can be used in a variety of applications, and businesses across all sectors, as well as educational institutions, and even governmental organizations, have definitely taken notice. More and more organizations and agencies are utilizing these technologies to achieve their objectives, as they can quite literally connect people around the globe.
While the demand for virtual and augmented reality technologies may have started in the gaming industry, their use has spread to a variety of industries and sectors. The increased application of VR and AR technologies in businesses across so many sectors is quite literally exploding. Global VR and AR markets are projected to increase to $209.2 billion US dollars and the number of users is predicted to grow to more than 171 million people worldwide, according to Tech Jury. These projections are impressive, to say the least, and they clearly illustrate the endless opportunities that these technologies provide.
Whether you’re just joining the workforce or you’ve been working for a while and you’d like to make a career change, you might be thinking about working with virtual reality and augmented reality developers. That’s certainly a wise choice, as the job market is flooded with opportunities. From large international organizations to small local start-ups, below, you’ll find a list of the most in-demand AR and VR careers that you should definitely know about.
AR/VR Maintenance and Support Professional
AR and VR companies rely on factories to produce the products they offer. No matter how well-oiled those factories may be, machine failures are bound to happen, and the organizations that rely on factories to produce their products have to endure unplanned downtime when machine failures occur. Frequently, these failures aren’t the result of age and general wear-and-tear; in fact, only about 11 percent of factory machine failures were due to age and wear-and-tear.
Factories that produce AR and VR technologies are realizing that they can save a great deal of money on machine repairs and enhance precision maintenance by employing maintenance and support professionals. In this role, you would use your expertise in AR and VR technologies to educate and support the maintenance and repair support staff of these factories. Some of the basic skills that are required to fulfill this role include the following:
- Proficiency in 3D tools, such as 3D Max, MAYA, and Autodesk 3D
- Knowledge and experience in computer system maintenance using various types of VR systems, such as Unity
- The ability to troubleshoot AR and VR systems
Employers don’t always explicitly require maintenance and support professionals to have C# programming skills or game engine experience; however, your chances of landing a job in this field will definitely be greater if you do possess these skills.
The pay for AR and VR support and maintenance varies and depends on a variety of factors, such as location and experience. That said, in the United States, the national average income is around $99,000 per year, while in places like New York City, salaries exceed $108,000, and the highest paid professionals earn more than $239,000 annually.
Software Developer/Senior Software Engineer
Companies that are seeking to invest in or to test out AR and VR software require developers, and currently, the demand for these professionals is at an all-time high. That said, the skills that are needed to land a position and excel in this line of work are just as extensive as the growth the industry is experiencing. The majority of employers require the developers and engineers they hire to code in C# and C++, the more code languages you’re proficient in, the better.
Basic skill requirements you’ll need to land a job as a software developer or software engineer include the following:
- Two to five years of VR, AR, or MR experience
- Hands-on experience with Unity
- Experience developing for AR/VR platforms, such as Vive or Oculus
- C# development experience
Job titles can include “Director of Software Development”, “Senior Software Developer,”, and “Junior Developer”. The average salary for professional XR software developers is about $85,000 a year, while the most proficient XR developers can earn as much as $156,000 annually.
AR and VR design and graphics engineers assist organizations with the marriage of graphics and computer vision research. They team up with designers and artists to expand on and enhance experiential prototypes, develop new effects and visualizations, and ensure that the standards for their company’s 3D assets are met.
While the skills that are required to land a job as a AR/VR designer or graphics engineer vary from company to company, the basics skills you’ll need include:
- Experience developing 3D applications and/or games
- Experience with 3D game engines, such as Unreal and Unity
- C#, C++ coding proficiency, as well as other coding languages, such as Java
- A degree in computer engineering
- Skilled in 3D math
Design and graphics engineers earn more than $84,000 per year, on average, in the United States. In major cities, such as New York, the average salary is about $92,000, while the highest paid graphics engineers earn approximately $212,850 per year.
AR and VR software engineers are a core part of a company’s research and development team. These professionals develop new software and build features that allow disparate tools to work together. More specifically, software engineers work with the software and hardware components of VR, AR, and MR products.
The basic skills requirements for software engineers vary, but will usually include the following:
- C#, C++ , Objective-C, and Swift systems programming skills
- Experience with multiple operating systems
- Research skills
- Experience with server programming
In the United States, virtual software engineers earn an average yearly income of about $101,000. In large cities, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, virtual software engineers earn even more; typically between $107,000 and $118,000 per year, while the highest earners make more than $155,000 per annum.