AR/VR Engineer Job Description
Augmented reality (AR) alters a real-world environment by introducing computer-generated elements, such as 3D animations, video, audio, or text overlays. Virtual reality (VR) uses computer technology to create a virtual world that users can interact with. Both are emerging technologies with real-world applications in fields ranging from healthcare to the military. AR/VR engineers build these products with a skill set that may include 3D development, software design, and programming languages such as C++. Engineers working on AR and VR will often collaborate across scientific and engineering disciplines. The primary duties of an AR/VR engineer may include designing, analyzing, debugging, and developing AR and VR prototypes.
VR and AR technology is often used for video games and other entertainment, but it also has applications in fields like social science, psychology, medical training, education, fine arts, engineering, occupational health, architecture, and marketing. Whether it used for surgical training, anxiety disorder treatment, or in ad campaigns to sell products, the possibilities are wide-ranging. Companies that work in the VR/AR field either produce hardware (such as VR headsets), software that delivers VR/AR content, or the content itself. Major companies that have ventured into the field include Google, Facebook (Oculus), and Apple. With rising investment and a large number of startups pursuing virtual reality or augmented reality, this is an emerging specialization and area of growth for engineers.
What Kinds of Jobs Are in the Virtual Reality Career Path?
Starting a career in virtual reality is remarkably similar to being a software developer or software engineer. Why? Because you’ll need to become familiar with several computer programming languages as well as common syntax. You’ll also need to have a basic understanding of UX (user experience) design and the hardware your applications will run on. Depending on the platform you choose, you may be faced with unique limitations and requirements.
The older HTC Vive, for instance, is less powerful than the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive Pro. That means any experience you craft for the former platform needs to have memory and performance limitations. This also puts a restriction on how you craft your virtual environments. If you have to create something less lifelike to achieve optimal performance, you’ll need to do it in a way that doesn’t hinder the experience or make your users sick and queasy.
That brings us full circle to the kind of work or jobs you’ll be handling in the virtual reality career field. Pretty much anything you’d see in software development as a common career path is something you’ll also see in virtual reality. This includes positions such as:
AR and VR content writers
UI and UX design
How to Get a Career in Virtual Reality?
The final segment of our guide will touch on actually seeking and finding employment in the virtual reality industry. How can you go about getting a job after graduation, for example? What are some things to do to stand out from the competition?
Step one is to actually reach out to existing companies and businesses and ask questions. Let them know you’re interested in working in the industry and ask if they have any advice to offer. What do they look for in a potential candidate? What would absolutely get you hired? There’s always a chance that regular correspondence with a contact could help you get your foot in the door, so it’s a great place to start.
Find and reach out to professionals in the industry and see if someone will allow you to shadow them for the day. Sometimes it’s best to reach out to the human resources department at a company instead of various individuals. The goal here is to see firsthand what it’s like working for a company on an active project. This will also allow you see the necessary skills and experience you’ll need to become a part of your average development team.