In-demand AR/VR careers to pursue in 2021 and beyond

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As more industries jump on the bandwagon, opportunities in AR/VR will be rife.

By U2B Staff 

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Both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are transforming industries across the world. AR/VR technologies are becoming globally relevant due to its wide range of uses that can help businesses, academia, and governments across the globe reach their business goals. 

A number of leading companies have slowly begun adapting the use of AR or VR into their businesses. Personal care and beauty store Sephora, for instance, has interactive mirrors that allow customers to try products “virtually” via iPads, serving as a fun and engaging way to improve customer’s satisfaction.

According to Tech Jury, the global AR/VR markets are expected to grow to 209.2 US billion dollars by 2022, with more than 171 million users worldwide.

If you’re gunning to land a role with some of the best organisations in the world, aspiring AR/VR professionals will need to know what skills will make them highly attractive to employers, and the types of roles available. Here are the five occupations you should know about:

Senior developer/software engineer

Companies looking to invest or test out AR/VR software will need developers – and the demand is currently exponential. Most companies will list extensive knowledge in C# and C++, but it’s worth remembering that the more languages you can work with, the better. 

Although Zip Recruiter states the national average salary for AR/VR software developers at US$85,000 a year, the figure varies by city, skill, and experience. Highly skilled developers could earn up to US$156,000 a year.

AR/VR maintenance and support professionals

Machine failures are unavoidable in factories. Industries that depend on equipment undergo unplanned production downtime – often due to factors that go beyond wear-and-tear. In fact, machine-age accounted for only 11% of machine failures in factories.

Factories that use AR could save money on machine repairs and improve their precision maintenance — and this would require the expertise of AR maintenance and support professionals to facilitate this.

Common skills for this role could include the ability to use 3D tools such as MAYA, 3D MAX, Autodesk 3D. Experience with computer systems maintenance using Unity and other VR systems is a plus, as is the capability to troubleshoot AR/VR systems. 

The national median salary across the US is about US$99,000; the average salary exceeds US$108,000 in New York. The highest earners could land an attractive package of US$239,000 a year.

Design/graphics engineer

These engineers help organisations bridge the gap between graphics and computer vision research. They work alongside artists and designers to build on and improve experiential prototypes, develop new visualisations and effects, ensure the standards for their organisation’s 3D assets are up-to-par. 

To land a role like this, aspirants will need experience in developing 3D applications or games, familiarity in 3D game engines such as Unity or Unreal, knowledge in coding languages and frameworks like C3, C++, or Java, and preferably a degree in computer engineering. 

With the right skills, you could earn an average salary of over US$84,000. Some of the highest-earning graphics engineers could earn around US$212,850 annually.

Software engineer

Software engineers in AR/VR are core parts of a business’s research and development team. They work to develop new software and build features that make disparate tools work together. 

The skills employers are on the lookout for include systems programming in C#, C++, Objective-C, and Swift, experience working with multiple operating systems, research skills, and experience in server programming. 

The payoff is more than rewarding. The average salary for AR/VR software engineers across the US is US$101,000 a year. Cities like LA and San Francisco offer anywhere between US$107,000 and US$118,000, per annum. Top earners could take home over US$155,000 a year.

Product and project managers

These managers lead teams through the ideation, development, and launches of new AR/VR products designed to cater to developers or consumers. Their ultimate tasks are to bring organisational thinking into teams and to develop structures to help them achieve their goals. 

Those interested in filling these shoes will need experience in collaborating with teams of designers, prototypers, product testers, and engineers. They should also be able to lead customer experiences and work environments, while establishing project frameworks. 

AR/VR product and project managers could earn well over US$94,000 a year on average in San Francisco and US$80,647 nationwide. A top-earner could land a salary of over US$170,000.