Chart Your Career Towards Becoming An Extended Reality (XR) Professional

“Great things come from small beginnings”; nothing can be truer than this, where technology is concerned. Technology initially fuelled gaming, but soon spread to other fields, such as education, information technology, healthcare, military and numerous others.

The great thing about technology is it is always advancing. When desktop computers first came on to the scene, they were regarded as the ultimate, but soon laptops, tablets and smartphones made their appearance, all thanks to technology that continues to develop.

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Technological advancements

Today, technology is on the forefront of developing a variety of sophisticated devices, using artificial intelligence and virtual reality (VR) that baffle the mind. Take, for example, VR helmet or goggles, such as Oculus Rift and Vive headsets, that are used to interact with a virtual world. Technology has taken it a step further towards augmented reality (AR) that is a virtual experience that blends into reality and enhances what you see, hear and feel.

The next generation AR includes devices, such as TAR (Tactical Augmented Reality) eyepiece, primarily being used by the military. This helps the person in gaining situational awareness, making night vision goggles and MIT’s SixthSense almost obsolete.

XR – Extended Reality

The previously separate entities – VR and AR – are blending and have been collectively termed as ‘XR’ (extended reality). That this field is burgeoning can be seen from that fact that the market size of XR, that was $6.1 billion in 2016, is expected to soar to $215 billion by 2021.

So, what does this show? It simply shows that XR technologies are entering the marketplace and the demand for skilled XR professionals is expanding exponentially.

New job opportunities

Although XR is still in its inception stage, it is showing rapid growth. There are a number of jobs awaiting those well-versed in XR. Let us see what they are:

#1 XR developers

The primary requirement of companies developing XR systems is for XR developers. These developers need to work in close collaboration with software designers, 3D artists, design architects, and engineers, who provide the hardware for running the XR software.

The qualifications generally required for XR developer is a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering or equivalent. The selection criteria for developers includes two to three years of experience in developing responsive applications. If you have 3D or animation development experience or both, or design skills, you simply get included in the preferred line.

A background of networking, simulated physics, gesture recognition and motion capture would help. You will also need advanced proficiency in XR platforms like Unity or emerging products. A solid foundation is required in C#, C++, Java or similar language.

#2 System validation engineers

Whatever systems are developed by XR developers, System validation engineers are required to test them, resolve technical problems, if any, and even go back to developers in case any modifications are required.

#3 Project managers

For XR systems to be developed and validated, someone is required to give directions. That someone is the project manager, who coordinates and supervises all the development and validation teams, interacts with other business units and works with clients.

At least five years of professional experience is required in landing a job of XR project manager. Your chances brighten if you mention education on your resume as bachelor’s degree in engineering, computer science or a related discipline. Of course, a solid background in XR developing or engineering and added knowledge of emerging technologies, trends and best industry practices will be a big plus.

You should have the necessary communication skills, both written and verbal, and strong leadership qualities to manage the teams and oversee XR technology projects from inception to the final workable product. Security clearance is mandatory, in case you opt for the federal government or the US military.

#4 Marketing teams

XR systems are marketed, like any other product. For this, the requirement is of dedicated marketing teams for marketing XR products, so as to reach the consumers.

Whom to approach for XR jobs

There are a host of world’s leading companies vying with each other to get you into their organization. Some of them are Facebook, Google, HTC, NVIDIA and Snap (Snapchat). There are some good small companies too that can give you a good break. However, the first step in starting your search for an XR job is to optimize your LinkedIn profile.

Pay package for XR professionals

The starting average in the US for XR professionals may vary from $75,000 to $80,000. This may go up to $200,000 for top-end professionals. Specifically, an XR developer can expect over $90,000, and mobile developers and solution engineers over $100,000, if indeed.com is to be believed.

Conclusion

XR is an emerging technological platform. Joining as an XR developer or as any other XR specialist is sure to open many exciting avenues for you. However, for this right qualifications and experience is a must.

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