Becoming a virtual reality developer sounds like an awesome career path to follow - and yet, it’s surprisingly not as popular as you might initially think it to be! However, if you’re passionate about creating virtual worlds, and have an aptitude for programming, the Udacity VR Nanodegree might help you take the next step down this specific career path.
Indeed - there aren’t all that many reliable online learning platforms that would offer their students the ability to study and learn VR-related courses. It’s a difficult and challenging subject, and not one that you would find many people talking about, either!
With time, however, the need for VR developers is increasing - with this specific programming niche, you might be able to boost your job application significantly, and become a professional virtual world creator!
Is the Udacity VR course the right place to start learning? Well, let’s find out together!
Table of Contents
- 1. Why Study to Become a VR Developer?
- 2. Udacity VR Nanodegree (ENROLL HERE)
- 2.1. Taught by Professional Instructors
- 2.2. Made in Collaboration with Unity
- 2.3. Receive Feedback for Your Tasks
- 2.4. Flexible Timetable
- 2.5. Career Services Post-Graduation
- 3. Udacity VR Nanodegree: The Negatives
- 3.1. Not a Beginner-Oriented Course
- 3.2. Nanodegree Certificates are Not Accredited
- 4. Price
- 5. Before and After the Course
- 6. Summary
- 7. Conclusions
Why Study to Become a VR Developer?
So, then… Why should you study the Udacity VR Nanodegree to become a virtual reality developer, in the first place? What are the benefits of this profession, and how is it different from being, say, a web developer?
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Well, for starters, the answer is kind of self-evident when you look at the name of the profession - as a VR developer, you will be working on virtual reality, and creating various elements that comprise it.
For starters, this is a very fresh and exciting career path to follow. Working on virtual worlds, landscapes, characters, and all of the mechanics behind these things, you will be able to utilize some of the most advanced technology within the IT and software development industry.
It can also be viewed as a sort of revolutionary technology, too. While the main use for virtual reality lies in the gaming industry (if you’re passionate about computer games, this is also a point to consider - you might be able to work for a major gaming company!), it’s far from being the only space where VR is utilized.
Indeed - some student Udacity VR developer course reviews will tell you that virtual realities are also used in fields such as healthcare, education, psychology, and so on, - for example, for people to face their fears, or explore virtual scenarios and see how they would play out depending on their actions and decisions. A truly fascinating field to work in!
Naturally, there’s also the question of pay, too. With the VR market size being around $4.8 billion in 2021 alone, you can be sure that the developers who work in this field do make some very decent salaries. It is reported that while the average pay is around $7600 per month, it can go as high as $11,200 per month, too!
So, in short, if you’re passionate about creating virtual worlds, and feel like it’s a career path worth exploring, checking the Udacity VR Nanodegree out might be a good idea!
As you can see by the bullet list above, there are some spaces that have question marks left in-place of where the answer should be. Worry not - we shall address this in due time.
If you were to look up Udacity VR courses on the platform, surprisingly enough, there are a few options that would pop up. However, there is but a single program that’s suitable for anyone who’s just starting out - the Udacity VR Foundations Nanodegree.
While most of the VR-related courses on the platform are Nanodegrees, this specific class is one that you should be looking into, and considering studying (assuming this is your first encounter with virtual reality development, that is). Having said that, the fact that this IS a Nanodegree does automatically tell us a few things, straight from the get-go.
One of the main of these things would be the fact that you can expect a certain level of quality of information from the course in question. This is further proven by the list of instructors that will be teaching you the course in question.
Taught by Professional Instructors
Virtual reality development is one of those topics that require a lot of time and dedication to truly master - there’s a lot of advanced programming knowledge involved - you have to work with the Unity engine, and be proficient with the C# coding language.
Naturally, since it’s far from being a simple topic to master, you would probably want to be taught by professionals in the field, too!
Since online learning has become an extremely popular method of acquiring an education, there has been a notable increase in online courses, too. This, however, does also lead to various malicious intent-possessing individuals creating some courses of their own, speaking about topics that they are less-than-competent to speak on.
This can, in turn, lead you to wasting both your time, and your money. It’s crucial to do proper research before deciding on whether or not you should be taking a specific course!
Thankfully, when it comes to the Udacity VR Nanodegree, student feedback concerning the instructors is really positive - the idea here is that the course is taught by true professionals of their craft. Take a look:
- Christian Plagemann - the co-founder of the VR team over at Google, the person who started the VR program at Udacity, VR curriculum developer.
- Matt Sonic - engineer, artist, and entrepreneur. A virtual reality and high-performance programming specialist.
- Vasanth Mohan - prior experience in Stanford Virtual-Human interaction Lab, various VR-related initiatives.
- Chris Birke - GPU programmer, game developer, focused on digital world creation and development.
While the VR Udacity foundation course might not have the longest list of instructors, the people that are going to teach you are, evidently, truly very experienced!
It’s worth mentioning that this is actually a common feature of Nanodegrees. As mentioned at the end of the previous chapter, the tag itself does kind of bring a certain level of quality standard to the table.
However, even with Nanodegrees, the list of instructors can often be somewhat strange, with it being composed of people who seemingly have little-to-no direct experience with the topic. Once again, though - in regards to the Udacity VR Nanodegree, this is not the case, since all instructors for this program are truly well-qualified!
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Made in Collaboration with Unity
One of the best perks of Nanodegrees is that they are often made in collaboration with certain specific businesses and tech companies. In such cases, the these courses become that much more realistic, and allow you to take a look at what you can expect whilst working for a specific company or brand, once you finish the course.
More on that in just a moment, though. For now, I would like to point your attention to the fact that the Udacity VR Nanodegree was made in collaboration with the team behind Unity.
Unity is one of the most popular game engines around the world. It’s used to create a huge portion of the games that we all play and love, since the purpose of the engine is to bring 3D worlds into life.
The fact that the Udacity VR developer course is made with Unity means that you will be performing tasks that you would if working with the engine in a specific company. This allows you to experience the “real thing”, and become better prepared for some specific challenges that might await you when applying for a job position in a company that primarily uses Unity.
Another point here is that, granted this collaboration, once you finish the Udacity VR Nanodegree, you will receive a certificate that’s backed-up by Unity Technologies. While it’s very situation-dependent, this can prove to be very valuable, since it will showcase your skill level to your potential employer without you even needing to prove yourself by performing tasks beforehand.
Receive Feedback for Your Tasks
I probably don’t need to tell you this, but constructive feedback can be one of the biggest factors that lead to you understanding and comprehending a specific topic, or being left confused, even after you study it for months on end.
Following that, you probably won’t be surprised by reading student Udacity VR Nanodegree reviews and learning that most online courses do not offer such a feature, in the first place.
Indeed - if you were to explore the multiple online learning platforms and the courses that they offer, you’d likely find that most of them lack the feature of providing feedback to their students as they study the specific course or topic.
This is always true with free courses, and almost always true with paid, yet standalone classes - in other words, simple, standalone courses that are not a part of some broader program, and act as a single class on a designated topic.
As you’ve probably gathered, however, this is not the case with the Udacity VR Nanodegree. Once again, this is thanks to the course in question being just that - a Nanodegree.
Whilst studying any of the Nanodegrees found on Udacity, you will be able to receive custom-tailored and constructive feedback for the tasks that you perform during your studies. This feedback comes from professionals in the field, so you can be sure that you’ll have the chance to see if you’ve made any mistakes, and if so, understand where the issue lies.
This is, frankly, amazing.
It takes the experience of studying in a university or college, and brings it to the online format, while preserving all of the important features of online learning, in general.
This does actually further extend to technical mentor feedback, too. If, whilst studying the Udacity VR developer course, you will come across some technical difficulties (i.e. will have to perform a programming task that you just can’t seem to understand), the technical mentors of Udacity are always ready to help you out, no matter the issue.
Definitely an important pint to keep in mind!
One of the major and self-evident perks of online learning is the fact that you can study a course or a topic at any time that you see fit.
Now, naturally, I’m not talking about situations when you have online-based university classes, such as the situation that many students have found them in during the current global pandemic. Instead, I’m referencing online-based courses provided to you by MOOC platforms, in general.
What this means is that you will be able to study the course whenever the time is best for you - if you have any responsibilities, or some strict timetables in your everyday life, you won’t need to stress that “you have class at 7 PM”, and will also be able to take study the program at your own pace, too.
Is this also true with the Udacity VR Nanodegree? Well… To an extent.
Same as any other Nanodegree found on the platform, the VR Udacity program does allow you to create a custom timetable, and manage your time in the way that it suits you best. However, there are certain restrictions in place.
The restrictions exist due to the simple reason of the course being taught in a feedback-providing manner - you will be interacting with other students and instructors, asking technical staff for help, and so on. There’s an expectation that you will finish the course in a set amount of time, too, granted that the payment is composed in reference to a monthly model (more on that later).
That being said, students still reported that the time constraints are really not an issue for most, and you do get a lot of freedom in this regard, still.
Career Services Post-Graduation
Speaking about unique Nanodegree features, this is one thing that would be impossible not to mention.
On the landing page of the Udacity VR course in question, you will find some information about “building a portfolio of resume-worthy projects”. Looking into it deeper, it would seem that you will be able to enrich your portfolio with the projects that you perform and complete during your studies.
That’s great, sure - but it’s far from being the only notable feature in this regard.
You see, once you complete your course, you will be able to seek help from the professionals over at Udacity - they will help you build your Github, optimize your LinkedIn profile, and create a fully-fledged resume.
On top of that, there are multiple different companies that come to Udacity seeking potential employees for some specific job positions. In turn, the online learning platform in question recommends the students that have completed some of their Nanodegrees, and have the credentials to prove their skills in that particular field of expertise.
That’s a very unique feature - and an extremely valuable one, at that!
It makes searching for a job a much easier process to go through, seeing as you will get help from Udacity themselves. On top of that, there will always be a chance that you will be asked to work in a specific company, simply because you were recommended to it by Udacity - that’s superb!
Udacity VR Nanodegree: The Negatives
Now that we have discussed some of the most important and noteworthy benefits and features of the Udacity VR Nanodegree, before we move on to the pricing and general summary sections of the review, we still need to cover some of the complaints that students have in regards to this course.
I have to say, though - as you will see in just a minute, there are really no notable course-specific complaints that you should be aware of! The main issues that students have with the VR Udacity program are actually those that relate to every single Nanodegree, in general.
One specific point to keep in mind, however, is that if you want to study the course and become a Udacity VR developer, you will need some prior experience in the field of programming.
Not a Beginner-Oriented Course
Evidently, this isn’t really a con per se. However, it’s still a notable aspect to keep in mind, nonetheless!
As I’ve alluded to quite a few times in this Udacity VR Nanodegree review already, virtual reality isn’t a simple topic to study and learn. It does require a lot of preparation and some prior experience with programming, and similar, related fields of education.
Granted that the program that we’re talking about today is called “VR Foundations”, it may imply that you do not need any prior experience with anything related to virtual reality development, and that you can just jump in and learn everything as you go.
This is not the case, however.
There are quite a few prerequisite requirements that you should meet before starting to learn about VR development. Probably the most important of these requirements would be the fact that you should be proficient with the C# programming language, and be familiar with Github and Google Cardboard.
Truth be told, it does make sense, when you think about it. Since you will be working with C#, you can’t probably expect to learn the programming language from scratch in a 3-4 month long course, now can you?
Whatever the case might be, do keep in mind that you will have to possess some knowledge in the field of programming before starting to learn virtual reality development. If you’re not sure where to start, though, you can definitely check out Udacity’s Intro to Programming course - maybe it’s the right first step for you?
Nanodegree Certificates are Not Accredited
Remember when I said that most of the issues that students have with the Udacity VR Nanodegree actually have to do with all Nanodegrees, in general? Well, this is mainly what I was talking about.
Accredited certificates are those that you would receive from a course that was backed-up by an educational institution (university, college, etc.). As opposed to that, a non-accredited certificate is one that, well… Anyone can give out, really. It’s just a piece of paper.
Understandably, accredited certificates are extremely sought-after, since they showcase university-level knowledge to your potential employers. On the flip side, the same employers might not be too eager to hire an individual who hasn’t got an accredited certificate, but just a simple diploma that comes from who-knows-where, and is signed by who-knows-what.
Makes sense, right? Well, as unfortunate as it may be, the Udacity VR Nanodegree does not come with an accredited certificate. Udacity, as a whole, isn’t an accredited online learning platform, so this is the case with all courses available on the site, too.
Not all may be as bad as it seems, however.
Earlier on in the review, I’ve mentioned the fact that Nanodegree certificates are often backed-up by some specific companies. This might perfectly well be the “golden ticket” that you need in order to impress your potential employer!
Think about it - if you come to a virtual reality development job interview, and present a diploma that’s backed by Unity - the literal engine that you would likely be working with at that job -, you potential employers are bound to take that into account!
If, however, accredited certification is a must for you, unfortunately, it is not going to be available with Udacity.
Pricing is a bit weird when it comes to the Udacity VR Nanodegree - bear with me.
At the time of writing this course review, Udacity does not take in any new applicants to the program - in other words, enrollment is currently closed. While this is nothing strange in of itself (the course takes place in a cyclic manner, at specific periods of time), one can’t really access information about how long the class would last, and how much it would cost, to begin with.
That being the case, though, this isn't really an issue - if the Udacity VR Nanodegree is priced in a similar manner to all other Nanodegrees available on the platform, then it’s all pretty self-explanatory.
The course may take you either 3 or 4 months to complete. If it’s 3 months long, it should cost you around €927, and if it’s 4 months long, the price should be around €1236. Yet again, these are estimates made by referencing how the platform goes around pricing the rest of its Nanodegrees.
Evidently, the first inclination that many people have in regards to the price tag is simple - they think that it's expensive. However, I urge you to consider the fact that we’re talking about virtual reality development here - it’s a Udacity VR Nanodegree, not a course to teach you how to make pancakes!
Truth be told, with all of the benefits that you will receive from the course in question, the price does make sense! You will also be able to pay in increments, too - this is great for anyone who’s on a strict budget, and prefers to pay as they learn.
Before and After the Course
Now that we’ve got all of the essentials out of the way, let’s quickly discuss your options of what you could do both before taking the Udacity VR Nanodegree, and right after.
We’ve already established that, before you can go ahead and start the Udacity VR Nanodegree, you need to have some prior experience with programming. Well, if you’d like to check it out, Udacity does have an Intro to Programming Nanodegree - this course will help you learn all of the fundamentals of programming, and get you ready for some further practice!
Admittedly, you could always take the time and study the VR-specific requirements, too. However, if you’re not in a rush, and would like to develop a more-thorough understanding of the topic (be better prepared for future career prospects, too), taking it slow and steady is the way to go!
After you’re done learning virtual reality development, though, you have a few options to consider. You could either continue your studies (Udacity does have some advanced, topic-specific courses on VR, too), or start looking for work.
The great thing about starting off on your career path after you’re done with the course in question is that you can expect help from the MOOC provider, even though you’ve already finished the course. Who knows - perhaps one day you will receive a message from Udacity with an invite to a job interview at your favorite virtual reality development company?
In any case, my point here is that, no matter what you’re planning to do, you can be sure that Udacity will be able to help you, either way. That’s definitely much appreciated!
To finish things off, let’s have a quick overview of everything that we’ve talked about in this Udacity VR Nanodegree review. This way, if you’ve forgotten some of the more-important information, it’ll be a great way to refresh your memory!
The Udacity VR Nanodegree is a course that’s aimed at some intermediate-level programmers who are passionate about virtual reality technology, and want to work as VR developers. The course isn’t very beginner-friendly, but that’s to be expected - if you’d like to start preparing, you can do so by checking out Udacity’s Intro to Programming Nanodegree.
Being a Nanodegree, the VR Udacity course does come with all of the Nanodegree-specific benefits, such as career services, instructors and mentor feedback, flexible learning hours, real-world projects, and so on.
The program is also backed by Unity - the main engine used in game and 3D environment creation. This is significant, since it will surely be an important detail in a job interview!
That said, you should still keep in mind that Udacity isn’t an accredited online learning platform - you will not receive an accredited course certificate once you finish your studies.
It’s worth noting, though, that the lack of accredited certification does not influence the quality of the program - the instructors that will teach you VR development are actually all very well-qualified to do so, and possess all of the necessary credentials to prove it!
Finally, when it comes to the pricing part of the Udacity VR Nanodegree, it’s worth mentioning that both the price and the timeframe that will take you to finish the course are a bit unclear, as of writing this review. However, if other Nanodegree are anything to go by, then the quality of the learning materials (and the features, too!) is definitely worth the money!
Now, is the Udacity VR Nanodegree worth checking out?
Yes, I would say - it’s certainly one of the best courses for anyone who wants to start out with learning how to develop virtual worlds!
While it is true that you will need some prior experience with programming, if you’ve got that sorted and are simply looking where to start with VR, this program does, for a fact, offer all of the foundation knowledge that you might require to get yourself on the right track to becoming a VR dev.
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Table: The learning process on edX and Coursera
If you’re not really convinced, however, or simply aren’t sure that Udacity is the right online learning platform for you, do check out some alternative platforms, as well. MOOCs such as edX and Coursera tend to be mentioned as some of the best options, no matter what it is that you want to study - perhaps one of these platforms will have the right course for you?
That being said, thanks for reading! I hope that this Udacity VR developer Nanodegree review was useful to you, and that you’ve managed to make up your mind on whether it’s worth studying or not. Cheers, until next time!
1. Finances Online: '74 Virtual Reality Statistics You Must Know in 2021/2022: Adoption, Usage & Market Share'
2. Thomas Alsop: 'Virtual Reality (VR) - statistics & facts'