Daily advice on recruitment and HR from the industry's top companies. Today: OPM's guide to opportunity-rich disciplines

NEW YEAR, NEW JOB: The 10 easiest jobs to find

Every day in January we’re helping job-hunters and employers with advice and tips from the industry’s finest developers, experts, HR specialists and recruitment execs on a range of topics.

Today we bring you a guide to the 10 games industry specialties that currently offer the most employment opportunities, as selected by OPM Recruitment’s resident expert and owner Kim Parker Adcock

OPM’s 10 disciplines that offer the most opportunities for job-hunters

• UI Artist – User interface artwork, previously part of a 2D artist’s role, now incorporates genuinely innovative artistic methods to facilitate character or ancillary controls during gameplay. The best UI artwork is barely noticeable, functioning so naturally to the player that it becomes part of the games identity. Expert-level Photoshop skills are essential, along with an eye for detail and passion for this niche role.

• Tools Programmer – Creating the tools that other coders use to make the game, tools programmers are very rare at present. Working on pipeline content, experience in the games industry is lacking, with a general skill shortage across the discipline. Programmers in general are thin on the ground and senior and lead level programmers with managerial experience particularly scarce, so if you fit the mould you’ll likely have your pick of studios to work for.

• Cloud Engineer – Computers are ever-changing and if anything was hailed as the future of gaming in 2011, it was cloud computing. Anyone with the skills in place to build this technology into products is going to be in high demand, so by training in this area, you’ll be making yourself highly employable. Few jobs are future-proof, but in a rapidly growing industry such as games development, the new technological wave is a cloud.

• Social Games Producer – If cloud computing is the long-term future, then the present is very much about social gaming. Growing year-on-year consistently in recent times, experienced production management of social games (for facebook or other social gaming platforms) is in huge demand. Developing either original content or transferring existing IPs into the social gaming arena is a rare quality to have, and you’ll have many great opportunities to choose from if you have experience.

• VFX Artist – Creating the in-game visual effects has become one of the most sought-after skills in the games industry, with studios demanding the very best explosions, elemental effects and illusions to bring their game to life. With VFX Artists in the games industry in short supply, studios are considering those with experience in another field such as film or television, so there has never been a better time to get involved in this exciting area of work.

• Level Designer – Level Designers have long been in very high demand, with those designing the map of a game world one of the key hires for any team. Working very closely with both the art and programming teams, this position demands excellent technical skills, combined with a creative eye that is able to bring to fruition the artistic vision of the project director.

• Audio Programmer – Programming seamless audio is crucial to the enjoyment of every game, with tension, atmosphere and tone all held together by this dedicated skill. Specialising within audio, commonly following qualification in computer science studies, the role has a close link to gameplay programming and is an integral part of a games development studio. Senior audio programmers who are open on location would attract interest from numerous studios.

• Data Analyst – A new skill to the games industry, this role is coming up more and more, with a lot of studios employing data analysts to research the market for their games. Also conducting strategic planning exercises and working data into influential figures, the role appeals to those who are strong in mathematics but with an analytical mindset, with experience is more important than specific qualifications.

• Brand Manager. Growing a studio brand is key to the sale of any game, and with clients focused on product management for many years, a creative brand manager will ensure all their products are widely known. Growing the studio’s name and reputation by running online and other marketing campaigns, this idea-driven employee will oversee that process from start to finish.

• Technical Animators – One of the key personnel in the animation team is the technical animator. Ideally experienced in C++ and with a keen eye for the movement of the in-game characters, technical animators provide the link between programming and art. Fluid, realistic animation boosts any products gameplay and has been present in every successful computer game in recent history.

Our daily ‘New Year, New Jobs’ series of articles are extracted from the forthcoming February issue of Develop magazine, which boasts an essential compendium of advice, tips and tricks on getting a new job and improving your employment prospects. The same issue will bring you all the results from our sweeping games industry Salary Survey. Check back with Develop Online every day this month for more.

To find out more about advertising opportunities relating to our New Year, New Job series contact Alex.Boucher@intentmedia.co.uk or call him on +44 (0) 1992 535 646.

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