How to hire VR developer: Skills and places to look for

With the release of major VR headsets Virtual Reality’s potential in entertainment and science has been finally uncovered. And the labor behind hundreds of constantly emerging projects falls on shoulders of VR developer. This is a new breed of programmers of high demand. How to hire VR developer is a teaser that hasn’t been fully solved yet. But let’s try.

Of course, a virtual reality developer has to be a developer in the first place. A good one, by the way, with certain set of skills to build on to be able to step into VR. Those skills are also markers for entrepreneurs seeking to hire VR developer. It should be a combination of:

  • Software programming
  • 3D skills
  • Video/sound production skills
  • Game development
  • UI/UX skills

VR projects are of extensive range and may require mastery in engineering, film, medicine, architecture, interior design, etc. In other words, just being able to create 3D environments is not enough. VR developer often has to come up with brand new ideas.

Another aspect is VR hardware and technology – developing an app for Google Cardboard and creating a game for PlayStationVR are nothing alike. But let us not get ahead of ourselves and first reveal how to find a virtual reality developer.

Where to find & hire VR developer

So you have an idea for a fantastic Virtual Reality app, now where can you find and hire VR developer? Basically, you have four directions to explore: developer communities, freelance sites, source code platforms, social media. For instance, official VR developer communities like:

The next substantial option are freelance developers for hire. On sites like Upwork, Toptal and Freelancer you may find all kinds of virtual reality experts (well, almost). Talk to some of them and see what you can do with your project idea, why not? Here are some sources to find freelance VR devs:

There are even job site just for augmented and virtual reality developers, like RedVR and VRdeveloper. You may also want to take a look at SVVR Jobs – Silicon Valley VR jobs. On Github, Gitlab, Codepen and other repositories devs often publish the source code of their projects, that is actually a showcase of their work.

Some extra places could also be development forums, Reddit or topical groups on Facebook. And don’t forget about various conferences, meetups and real-life social events – SVVR, NYVR, GDG are just a top of an iceberg.

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Now, let’s review several technology-specific types of VR developers and what you should have in mind before approaching them.

Hire Google Cardboard developer

Google Cardboard brought what is known as ‘disruptive effect’ into VR industry. Simply put, it’s a cardboard image viewer that by placing a smartphone in it makes the cheapest virtual reality headset. For developers it is a suitable platform to create VR apps.

Depending on target mobile platform, for Google cardboard app a VR developer would have to possess good skills in Java, Objective C, or C#. Native iOS, Android, etc. development and hybrid apps skills are required as well. One of nice options to find and hire Google Cardboard developer is Top-6 developers this month ranking by Freelancer.

To Hire Samsung Gear VR developer

The Gear VR headset by Samsung works in a 96-degree field of view, displaying content from mobile devices. For development, it uses the Oculus platform, so if you’re looking to hire Gear VR developer, he/she should be familiar with Oculus mobile SDK at least.

These should be C, C++ and C# coders with skills in game engines like Unity, Vuforia or Unreal. As you see, one should be aware of platform-specific things too to hire VR developer. Java programmers can also be of use, e.g. working with Gear VR frameworks for rendering.

Extra tip: Many VR developers and creators of 360-degree videos often share their productions via Samsung VR app, thus you can chase it out to see their potential.

Hire PlayStation VR developer

PSVR is a more complicated and sophisticated piece of hardware designed for PlayStation 4 gaming console. Beside VR headset it also includes 2 motion controllers, eye tracker, headphones and few other accessories. This is 100% game-oriented product, so a VR developer, in this case, should be a game dev primarily.

Requirements and tools to become a PSVR developer remain somewhat in mystery, as Sony hasn’t disclosed its development kit yet. Some of VR enthusiasts guess that PS4 kit for VR is just a regular PS4 with a headset, that one connects to PC.

Anyhow, if you wish to hire VR developer to build a PlayStation game, you should look predominantly among game development studios or individual game devs. See how many games they have released and whether it stands out.

To Hire SteamVR developer

SteamVR is a different kind of virtual reality beast, working on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Open VR  headsets. Though it is mainly for Vive. As its a special 360 VR experience requiring a separate room aimed at interactive games, your VR developer has to be a highly-skilled 3D game creator.

The Vive comes with a solid infrastructure: room of minimum 2×1.5 meters, a headset, 2 base stations, 2 controllers, cables and adapters, earbuds, PC with monitor. Clearly, affiliated VR game development is huge and should be rich in features and spectacular scenery. These are zombie shooters like Arizona Sunshine or multi-player combat missions like Hover Junkies.

SteamVR developer community claims to have all the tools and skills to execute such projects. They use Unreal and Unity engines, offer OpenVR SDK and Viveport SDKs openly to VR developers. To hire SteamVR developer you may check SteamCommunity or browse freelance sites.

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Hire Oculus VR developer

As one of the most popular VR headsets, and offering development kits (that are selling like hotcakes), Oculus presents plenty of possibilities for VR developers. According to 2017 survey of developers, Oculus Rift is the platform of biggest interest, followed by Vive.

To hire VR developer for Oculus suggests he/she is familiar with Oculus SDK and documentation, has C++ skills combined with Unity, Unreal, CryEngine knowledge. Possession of latest DK-2 would be a sign of real mastery in this VR platform. To find Oculus developer, official forum or Reddit devs could be pretty helpful.

How to become a VR developer

For developers and freelancers Virtual Reality offers bright prospects. Those willing to jump into VR fast-traveling train may start with online courses by Udacity, Udemy, VrDev School, etc. Even some VR platforms, like Unity3D,  foster self-educated VR developers. Reddit, again, has a section on learning VR.

Alongside with theory, you can try making some simple VR experiences. Think about your first VR app, start with Google Cardboard for instance, build a prototype. Get the devkit, learn about engines and choose your option. Put it all together and see where it gets you. If you want to be known as VR developer for hire, consider these four steps:

  1. Join the VR community – there’s a variety of events, conferences and meetups where VR experts and beginners can exchange demos, talk about latest tools and practices.
  2. Get the equipment – A web browser and YouTube 360-videos are not enough to acquire skills in VR, buy yourself a Cardboard ($20), try other headsets. You’ll also need a proper camera, like GoPro, and video editing software.
  3. Grow your skills – learn how to produce 360-degree image and video content, study Unity engine, try to make interactive content, learn or improve your Javascript,  etc.
  4. Define your niche – hardware/software development, 360-content, 3D animation, image rendering, VR gaming… better stick to a single area until you feel like an expert in it.

To summarize, Virtual Reality industry is new and there are no best practices how to hire VR developer or become one. We’ve just tried to gather relevant insights so far, let’s hope it helps.[/sociallocker]

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