AR/VR programmer

extended reality (XR) programmer mixed reality (MR) programmer VR developer VR engineer AR and VR developer
Computing and ICT
Create Discover

Career outlook for ar/vr programmer

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

VR and AR are proving exciting for entertainment and leisure markets, but the opportunities don’t stop there. You might also programme immersive training experiences that are used to prepare astronauts before they leave for space. Or you might create the code that introduces arachnophobes to tarantulas as part of a virtual reality therapy programme. For AR and VR programmers, virtually anything is possible.  

This tech is still new and is developing all the time. You’ll need to diligently problem-solve, constantly testing and refining your code to make the experiences you’re creating as immersive as possible.  

What you’ll do 

  • Take briefs from clients and colleagues 
  • Work with AR and VR designers to balance their creative vision with what you can achieve in code 
  • Write neat, efficient code in a specialist game engine like Unity or Unreal Engine 
  • Test your creations using Oculus or other AR devices 
  • Troubleshoot bugs in your code 
  • Use post-processing tools to improve your final visuals 
  • Design in-house tools in programmes like Unreal to help your team work faster 
  • Attend industry conferences and showcases to keep up with the latest developments in the tech 
  • Pitch ideas to your team and potential clients 

Working conditions


You’ll often work standard office hours, but you may be required to work more in the lead up to a product launch.


You can work anywhere from game development studios to computer science labs. Some developers can work from home.

UK employment status





Self employed


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Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Adaptability
  • Verbal communication
  • Working with technology
  • Creative
  • Designing
  • Innovative
  • Problem solving
  • Researching
  • Developing a plan

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


There are a number of ways to get qualified for this job through college, university or work-based qualifications, such as apprenticeships.

AR/VR Programmers will often have HND’s and degrees in subjects such as: 

  • Computer programming/animation
  • Games development
  • Computer science
  • 3D animation/design

As you'd be involved in the development of augmented and virtual reality software, experience or a qualification in the use of 3D modelling would also be useful.

It's helpful to have a portfolio detailing your skills and experience through any work, games or projects you have done in order to show off your skills and creativity – include your best work and keep it up to date.

Employers might consider applicants without formal qualifications if they can demonstrate knowledge and experience of the industry, such as a strong interest in technology, knowledge of virtual gameplay, platforms and programming languages and an awareness of 3D computer graphics and modelling/animation software.

As technology is ever changing, it's necessary to keep up with these advances throughout your career.


You can gain skills and qualifications in the workplace through options such as:

Foundation Apprenticeships (FAs) are chosen as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 but include hands-on learning at a local employer or college. They are the same level as a Higher.

You might want to consider an FA in areas such as:

  • Creative and digital media
  • Software development

Modern Apprenticeships (MAs) mean you learn on the job. You get paid and work towards a qualification at the same time.

You might want to consider an MA in areas such as:

  • Creative and digital media
  • Digital applications

Graduate Apprenticeships (GAs) are designed for industry and you'll spend most of your time learning on the job but you'll also go to uni or college. You'll get a job, get paid and work towards a qualification at the same time.

You might want to consider a GA in areas such as:

  • IT: Software development

Useful subjects

Many colleges and universities will have required subjects that you must have for entry. They might also highlight additional subjects that they would value. Look at individual institution websites for specific entry information.  

Useful subjects for this job would be:

  • Maths focused subjects
  • ICT subjects such as computer science
  • Art and design subjects
  • Physics

Helpful to have

Not all employers list specific qualification requirements but they might ask for relevant experience, usually work based, that show a range of transferable skills.

Gaining relevant work experience would be beneficial as it would help you gain experience and network - ensure quality work that you do is included in your portfolio/showreel and this can then be sent to employers.

Many AR/VR programmers are employed by companies, but some are self employed/freelance, working project to project at different companies. As this is a developing area, it's important to be aware of market demand and legalities around AR/VR use – PwC have a really useful guide to the market, business models and legalities.

You would need to demonstrate an up to date knowledge of software and programming developments and as this is a quickly evolving and expanding area of work, on-going training will be needed to stay current.

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