Virtual Reality: The Growth of a New Career
The virtual reality (VR) industry is finally coming into its own, with popular gaming headsets hitting the market and new VR experiences launching for consumers around the country. As fears over automation replacing jobs grow, VR is actually beginning to create new jobs in this growing industry.
Automation and waning demand may be reducing jobs in other segments of the economy, but new technology like VR and AR are creating opportunities for ambitious, tech-savvy workers. According to Forbes, postings for VR jobs have increased 800% since 2014, jumping from two postings per million to eighteen postings. Those numbers may seem small, but they indicate the growth of a new and exciting career path that is only going to expand over time. Now that VR has gone mainstream, we can expect to see increased demand for workers with specific skills to keep up with the diverse roles VR and AR have in entertainment, healthcare, sports, and other applications.
Virtual Reality Careers
The virtual reality career path is new enough that there aren’t yet defined paths for growth in the field. However, this allows for various opportunities that attract people with a wide range of creative and technical skill sets.
VR is a complex experience, and it requires several different factors in order to be successful. This is why the industry needs ambitious people with a variety of skills. There are jobs for UX/UI designers, animators, videographers, and project managers (to keep all those other people on track!), among others.
The Top Fields Using VR
Though your dream may be working in VR for entertainment, there are so many applications for VR and AR that some industries are embracing. Education, healthcare, and journalism are all fields that have begun to see the potential of VR in achieving their goals, and the companies catering to these industries all need talented people to help them deliver the tech.
Healthcare has already used VR to treat trauma patients and patients with other emotional disorders to great effect, and the technology has other potential applications within the industry as well. Surgeons can use VR to train, without needing to put an actual patient at risk, while telehealth could be advanced by creating a VR experience that allows the doctor to provide even more comprehensive care, remotely. In journalism, VR is allowing audiences to view 360 videos, allowing them to visualize the story and get a feel for the atmosphere better than words could ever convey. The New York Times already offers these videos daily, chronicling some of the most important world news.
Preparing for a Career in VR
People who are interested in joining the VR career path should first decide what facet of VR they are most interested in. Some paths might need college training, and those who are interested in multiple VR career paths should choose a creative major in college (like art or design), but should also take classes in computer science (C++ or C#) and 3D software.
Because the industry is growing and changing rapidly, it’s important for people who want to join the industry to keep up with the current trends in VR, and try to get as much exposure to current VR applications as possible. Meeting up with like-minded people is also important—and a great way to network!
Beyond training and knowledge, certain skills are key to succeeding in the VR industry. The good news? There are innumerable training programs online that can help you learn the skills needed to land a job in the industry. Some important skills include:
- Design and development in 3D software
- C/C++ programming
- Game development
Of course, you don’t have to be skilled in all of these areas to land a job in VR—it just makes things much easier. When looking for a job in the VR industry, remember to look beyond the big firms and check out startups. These companies are often doing the most exciting work, and offer more opportunities to get your foot in the door. As long as you’re good with technology and willing to develop the needed skills, there’s no reason you can’t find yourself a spot in the new and growing world of VR.