What is Virtual Reality?
Simply stated, virtual reality (VR) is the simulation of a real-world environment, which is augmented by a computing device. This technology is booming the market like never before and several devices, notably mobiles, laptops, and handheld devices are lapping up this technology and offering users to immerse themselves in real-world environment settings. It literally transports the user into a simulated environment that is distinct from a physical environment by enabling them to freely walk, explore exciting things and experience unique events. Generally, there is a misconception in the minds of the individuals that it is only suitable for gaming purposes, which is not the case. It is finding increasing applicability in various segments and constantly transforming the way we live – right from healthcare to medicine to leisure.
In fact, we are blessed to stay in a wonderful 21st century of innovations. Virtual reality, which is gaining rapid ground, is becoming increasingly popular as a career option on similar lines such as data and analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT and more. The best part is opportunities are endless and the sky is the limit.
As the industry is maturing, so the demand for VR developers is also booming like never before. Based on the survey, the VR industry set for an exponential boom in the next couple of years, which translates to more number of jobs in this segment, particularly for software and VR developers.
What type of Jobs can you Expect in a VR Career Path?
To start a career as a virtual reality developer, you need to be an expert in a few programming languages. Other technologies which a developer needs to possess are user experience (UX) design and hardware technologies that power the applications. Also, the platform which you choose has a notable impact on VR design. Typical positions in this segment include software developer, content producer, content writer – Augmented Reality (AR) and VR, QA professionals, and UI & UX designers.
You need to understand that you are creating proprietary software. Instead of creating for a mobile or a system, you will be developing it for a VR system. Augmented reality (AR) is one area within VR, wherein the experiences you develop are integrated with the real world. However, the development process is almost the same for both VR and AR. Apart from entertainment and gaming, there are other industries, which can really deliver real-time value. For example, in the medical industry, certain companies are delivering VR experiences. Healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses, students, and other professionals can train and practice in immersive and live environments that provide them hands-on time with tools, methods, and situations that they might encounter in the real world. Other industries where VR is creating impact include construction and development, architecture, retail, automotive and hardware servicing. This implies that developers have immense potential in various realms of this area.
Current Job Potential for VR
Though the job market is not very competitive at the moment, with an increasing number of companies investing in this segment, you can expect good job opportunities in the near future. It’s not a cakewalk to jump into any VR career with minimum experience or knowledge. First and foremost, most of the VR development companies, expect a decent resume for the candidates they hire including direct experience with the technology including a good portfolio of applications that they had developed.
Pre-requisites to Commence a Career in VR
The primary pre-requisite to get into this career is you require a software development background to succeed in this area. For students, who are yet to take up this area of interest, it is preferable to choose a computer science major at any of the university or college. This will set you the right path. If you have a penchant for software development, it is preferable to have experience in 3D modeling and design software. This should be complemented with skills in an integrated development environment, programming languages such as C or C++, graphics programming and knowledge of the best practices, which are used in game development.
If you are interested in the hardware segment like developing new platforms, headsets or devices, you need to mandatorily be acquainted with hardware engineering and modern electronics. Another important segment that VR professional can find the place is networking as several AR and VR platforms are concerned with networking and connectivity. Of course, you cannot ignore the most important cybersecurity and data handling areas as these platforms collect a huge amount of data, which needs to remain secure and private.
But the most lucrative segment is the mobile application and software development path. Most of the VR headsets, which are sold globally, are based on mobile technologies.
Are there any Specific Courses or Certifications?
Now the next big question is are there any major virtual reality courses in the market or is there any college or institution that can teach me these courses? Basically, it is the passion and creativity that rules above any courses or qualifications. Though there are several colleges and universities that have recently introduced VR as a subject in their CS curriculums, however, there are several private and online platforms, which offer lucrative courses to get started in this area. Some of the institutes include Udacity, Udemy, and MAAC that offer online certifications and also have tie-ups with good universities to offer courses that are relevant to the current market. Try to explore such courses.
Few words of Advice
Apart from the courses you attend, it is always advisable for beginners to get in touch with experts as early as possible to gain a strong foothold in this industry, much ahead of their colleagues and friends. Also, it may take years of practice and dedication to get the right opportunities or the satisfaction you expect. So, just don’t get discouraged. Be focused, keep your eyes and ears open on the latest developments in this segment, connect with the communities and above all be a constant learner.