How to Become a VR/AR Software Engineer in 2020

The Virtual and Augmented Reality industry was already growing exponentially, but the demand for VR/AR-driven devices has spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic as more and more people look to safely escape their quarantines.

With the need to maintain social distancing or stay indoors, VR/AR experiences provide a perfect solution to break cabin fever and interact with new surroundings or people in a safe way during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Companies such as IKEA and Amazon are already taking advantage of this trend by using AR services for customers to get an idea of how products would look on them or in their homes.

In the beginning, people mostly thought VR/AR devices were for gaming, but it has now become commonplace for the technology to be utilized by many sectors, including the healthcare and education industries. 

According to Statista, the VR/AR market is expected to continue its rapid expansion, meaning now is the time to take advantage of this burgeoning industry. If you would like to become a VR/AR Software Engineer, read on and we’ll show you how to launch your new career.

VR vs AR: What’s the Difference?  

People usually confuse Virtual and Augmented Reality, thinking they are synonymous. However, they are very different. 

If you’ve ever used a headset to dive into a virtual world, that’s VR. Industries using this technology include healthcare, higher education, and the travel industry. For example, there are now travel agencies giving clients a tour of what their vacation will look like by immersing them in a virtual rendering of their vacation spot.

Augmented Reality is used when creating an experience in which digital objects are placed on top of the physical world. You may remember the popular Pokemon Go mobile game where you could catch Pokemon on the streets. This is a classic example of AR. Once again, the gaming industry is not the only field taking advantage of the technology. For example, The National Museum of Finland and The National Museum of Singapore are using AR to give visitors a completely unique experience. Visitors use headsets that transport them into a different era, and this way they can learn history with a totally technological experience. 

Becoming a VR/AR Engineer 

To become a VR/AR engineer, you need to have a coding background and understand the different programming languages required to build interactive 3D worlds and experiences. It would be helpful if you had some knowledge of geometry and linear algebra as well. You should also consider applying some UX/UI Design knowledge when building your VR/AR products because this will improve the experience for your VR/AR users and your products will be more appealing. Below are some steps required to become a VR/AR engineer.

Learn Programming Languages

There are two leading platforms to build VR/AR products: Unity and Unreal. These two platforms allow you to create 3D environments. According to a report from The State of the Developer Nation, the two primary coding languages you’ll use are C# and C++ for Unity and Unreal respectively. Having some knowledge of JavaScript would also be helpful too. 

Define Your Platform

This is a vital step when becoming a VR/AR Software Engineer. Study all the possibilities before embarking on a path, which means that you must differentiate between VR and AR and decide how you will take advantage of each technology.

You could work on mobile apps, web apps, or even desktop apps. When considering this, you should also decide which framework/game engine/SDK you’d like to use. This is important because it’ll determine the tools you’ll use and how you’ll proceed with your projects.

Get Educated 

There are two options here. The first is to study for a bachelor’s degree in VR/AR development. There are universities such as the University of the Arts London that offer these types of degrees. The VR/AR Association reports that there are over 40 universities across the United States that offer VR and AR bachelor’s degrees. One of the benefits of traditional education is that you’ll have advanced classes about complex topics of VR and AR engineering. 

But another, quicker option is to enroll in a bootcamp in VR/AR development, such as the one from Coding Dojo. For those looking to learn quickly, these types of bootcamps will teach you all the principles of VR/AR development, such as Unity or Unreal development, in just a few months rather than a few years. The only disadvantage with bootcamps is that they’re usually not as focused on theory as universities are. 

Bootcamps may not be a traditional education method, but they’re focused on employment and practice. That’s why you’ll usually learn not only about VR and AR engineering, but you’ll also learn how to land a job in the VR/AR industry. 

Develop a Project

If you have no prior experience in VR or AR, you need to start building your portfolio. This will help you land a job in tech more easily. To do this, you must start developing projects in order to have something you can show recruiters when applying for a design-related position.

You can also volunteer on open source projects to get more practice in the field, a route most VR/AR engineers take when starting their careers. 

Start Pitching Companies

Once you’ve completed the required education and you’ve got some experience under your belt, it’s time to show recruiters and potential employers your skills. In this respect, it is essential you immerse yourself in the VR/AR community in order to build a network with other engineers in the field. To create a successful portfolio, you need to highlight your best projects, keep it personal, and concise. This way, you’ll stand out from others in the field.

This will open doors for you at specific companies. When it’s time for a technical interview, prepare yourself by knowing which questions you may face.


The demand continues to rise for Virtual and Augmented Reality software, further spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Once the COVID-19 crisis subsides, this demand will not diminish; it will continue to grow on the heels of all those exposed to the software while quarantined.

There is, therefore, an ample opportunity to launch a new career in this emerging field.  We encourage those interested in becoming VR/AR developers, to learn everything they  can about the industry, to elevate your skills set, and to create networks with others involved in this industry,The demand for VR/AR developers is on the rise and those that put their time into learning how to become a developers will likely find their dream VR/AR job right around the corner.

Interested in interning with The Glimpse Group as a VR/AR developer? Send a resume and cover letter to

Artur Meyster wrote this Glimpse Group guest blog. Artur is the CTO of Career Karma (YC W19), an online marketplace that matches career switchers with coding bootcamps. He is also the host of the Breaking Into Startups podcast, which features people with non-traditional backgrounds who broke into tech. Follow Artur on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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