What Is the Metaverse and How Can I Get Involved in It?

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Learn why the metaverse is an important topic to individuals and businesses around the world, including what exactly it is and where it's going.

[Featured Image] Blockchain developer, sitting at a desktop is analyzing and developing programs for the metaverse.

The word “metaverse” has piqued interest of individuals in business, tech, and finance in recent years. With this buzz, leading companies such as Meta, Apple, Google, and Microsoft have revealed their plans to invest in the metaverse and develop unique offerings for their customers. By 2024, analysts predict the metaverse will be an $800 billion market [1]. 

In this article, learn about the metaverse, how it works, what it’s used for, and the different career opportunities available. There are many ways to become involved in the metaverse whether in the technical or non-technical field. 

What is the metaverse?

The metaverse is a shared virtual social space where users can interact with each other. It’s a virtual reality world parallel to the physical one where you can do many things you do in real life, but in a virtual setting, like socialize, play, work, and shop. To enter the metaverse, sign in as if you were using the internet or an app. For many metaverse worlds, you’ll need to use a special headset or goggle-type eyewear. 

Where did the concept of the metaverse come from?

Although the idea of the metaverse has grown in rapid popularity in recent years, we can trace the name metaverse back to 1992. Neal Stephenson, an author, coined the term in his sci-fi novel Snow Crash. Stephenson described the metaverse in his book as an all-encompassing digital world that exists directly next to our physical one.

The Snow Crash metaverse was a virtual market that encircled the entire planet, allowing users to buy and sell real estate by wearing virtual reality (VR) goggles and playing as a 3-D avatar. While the current use of the metaverse today has yet to meet this idea, experts in this field are interested to see if it can evolve to be something similar. 


How does the metaverse work?

The metaverse works through interconnected, interactive, and immersive 3D worlds. People use VR and augmented reality (AR) technology to create worlds that allow individuals to connect online without physically being near each other. 

The metaverse utilizes blockchain technology to create its token economy and decentralized gaming platform available for users. Cryptocurrency, decentralized finance (DeFi), and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) allow the metaverse to work and be a compelling new alternative to the usual online interactions. 

Where does the metaverse currently exist?

You can currently access the metaverse in various ways today to experience its first developments of it. The two main areas where the metaverse currently exists are virtual reality and video games.

Virtual reality 

VR is considered to be the foundation of the metaverse because it provides users the ability to interact, socialize, and collaborate with other users virtually. There are many things you can do in real life, you can do in the metaverse with VR. 

Video games

Roblox, Fortnite, Minecraft, and other video games have included new features that increase the immersive experience of their product. These include creating avatars, buying and selling virtual assets, and interacting with others playing the game.

What is the purpose of the metaverse?

The applicable uses of the metaverse are increasing as the technology behind it improves and becomes more powerful. The metaverse allows you to interact and socialize with individuals without inherent barriers of the physical world. Though the metaverse is technically still in its experimental stage, you can do various things relating to gaming, social interactions, and work, such as:

  • Purchase real estate

  • Create video games

  • Create customizable avatars

  • Collaborate with coworkers remotely

  • Socialize with new or existing friends

  • Shop for virtual and real products

  • Attend events

  • Play VR games

  • Get a job

Metaverse terms

If you’re interested in entering the metaverse, being familiar with frequently used terms may be helpful to your experience. Take a look at these common terms:

  • Avatar: To enter the metaverse, you must have a digital character to represent you. You can be a fictional person in the traditional form, which is a static avatar, or an immersive avatar that can talk and move.

  • Virtual economies: The term refers to using cryptocurrency and NFTs in the metaverse. Virtual economics also refers to how players can trade and sell items amongst each other. Some games, such as Minecraft, support player trades, and sometimes trading is the only way to acquire some items.

  • Mixed reality: Mixed reality integrates the physical and virtual worlds so users can interact with both simultaneously. To experience mixed reality, you’ll need a VR headset.

  • Augmented reality: A phone camera or AR glasses lets augmented reality layers digital elements onto the physical space. It provides real-time interaction in 3-D.

Tech giants throughout the world have been developing and releasing their own version of the metaverse for the past few years. Some of the most popular examples are:

Meta (Facebook)

Meta is currently working to build a VR social platform accessible through its headset, the Meta Quest 2. With the headset, Meta offers users unique social experiences and the opportunity to connect with others. 


Microsoft’s view on the metaverse revolves around work, as shown by its Teams collaboration platform, which is used by businesses and organizations worldwide. The company aims to advance its metaverse by including artificial intelligence to gain insights based on the data it collects. 

Epic Games

Epic Games is one of the most popular metaverse examples because of its popular game, Fortnite, which has become iconic for the “emotes” that its avatars do. Fortnite has also hosted virtual concerts for its users, including performances by Travis Scott and Ariana Grande. 


Roblox is working to provide user-generated video games through the metaverse and create virtual environments and digital assets for its users. 


Since Minecraft is fully open-ended and customizable, you can create your own metaverse within the game on your own server. Minecraft additionally connects to the metaverse as a VR-compatible game. 

Virtual headsets for accessing the metaverse

Various companies have been creating and developing their own metaverse environments for users to join and interact with. Although we have yet to discover the full potential and capabilities of the metaverse, you can experience it now in a few different ways. 

Although not required for all metaverse platforms, a VR headset can make your experience more immersive, giving you a sense of presence in the virtual world. You can choose from a few top headsets to begin your journey into the metaverse.

Meta Quest 2

Meta Quest 2 is the most popular VR headset available currently. Developed by Oculus, a division of Meta, it is the most advanced VR system to hit the market to date. It is all-in-one, meaning you can explore a vast library of video games and immersive experiences just by attaining the headset. 

Playstation VR

The Playstation VR headset is another top option to access the metaverse. The headset comes equipped with 4K HDR visuals, reinvented controllers, and awe-inspiring games. Unlike the Meta Quest 2, you must also have a Playstation 4 or Playstation 5 to use the headset for video games and other interactive experiences. You might receive one game with the purchase of the headset, depending on Playstation's current promotion. 

Valve Index VR

Created by the software corporation Valve, the Valve Index VR headset focuses on fidelity to deliver an advanced metaverse. It aims to offer advanced displays, optics, ergonomics, and audio. With the headset purchase, you may get one or two games, such as Half-Life or Alyx. You are required to have a base station and PC to utilize the headset. 

Jobs in the metaverse

As the metaverse grows and continues to operate, talent in a broad range of skill sets may be in high demand. Securing a job related to the metaverse will give you the opportunity to work with the latest technology. The following job positions are some of the most relevant and exciting metaverse positions as of now:

*All salary data is sourced from Glassdoor as of February 2023

3-D game developer

Average annual base salary (US): $89,510 [2]

A 3-D game developer is an important position for the metaverse because of the video games within it. In this role, you must have strong knowledge in:

  • Programming

  • Illustration

  • Computer animation

  • Advanced math

  • Storytelling

  • 3-D modeling

Marketing specialist

Average annual salary (US): $52,538 [3]

Brands in the metaverse will be able to provide users with interactive and fully immersed experiences. Marketing specialists can leverage this new technology to learn what consumers want and directly place them into the story of a given product. In this role, you will need to keep up with trends, have a long-term vision, and a creative outlook. 

AR/VR software engineer

Average annual base salary (US): $112,120 [4]

Any action or reaction in the metaverse comes from a software engineer’s code. As an AR/VR software engineer, you will build a large part of the metaverse. It is crucial for this position that you know different programming languages, such as C++, Python, and JavaScript, and have experience with various game consoles or platforms. 

Product manager

Average annual base salary (US): $102,22 [5]

As a product manager in the metaverse, you will connect the work of engineers, product specialists, and designers to drive product development, fix glitches and solve any issues before the production of your offering. You will need to have strong communication skills to share your ideas and collaborate with others in this position. 

Blockchain developer

Average annual base salary (US): $90,295 [6]

The backbone of the metaverse’s system is blockchain, meaning that this is one of the most crucial positions for the future of the metaverse. Your impact using your development skills will range from NFTs to cryptocurrencies and decentralized autonomous organization (DAO)-governed systems. Being proficient in architecture integration, cybersecurity, debugging, and analysis on multiple platforms and in various programming languages is necessary. 

UI/UX designer

Average annual base salary (US): $74,752 [7]

As a UI/UX Designer in the metaverse, you will translate the metaverse from the developers creating it to the users. You will find the complex and hard-to-use elements of the metaverse and make them easier for users to interact with them. You can do this by developing your skills in storytelling, 3D tools, VR design. 

Read more: UI vs. UX Design: What’s the Difference?

Hardware engineer

Average base annual salary (US): $88,687 [8]

Hardware engineers are crucial to the metaverse because they are responsible for developing the VR headsets to access it. As a hardware engineer, you will also create simpler and more powerful technologies that improve the virtual world. Important skills for hardware engineers are knowledge and experience with robotics, AI platforms, and sensors. 

Skills you need to work in the metaverse

If you’re seeking a career in the metaverse, you’ll want to have technical skills and strong knowledge of how the metaverse operates. Understanding the metaverse concepts such as AR and VR and the metaverse architecture are important skills to add to your resume. Other skills you should have include: 

  • Technical fluency: Depending on the area you wish to specialize in, programming languages, gaming engines, and artistic skills are essential to metaverse careers. 

  • Metaverse architecture: As a metaverse architect, you’ll need to know about the elements of the metaverse. You may need a thorough understanding of NFTs, blockchain, and decentralized finance, which is a method to remove third parties from financial transactions made with cryptocurrency.    

  • NFT technology: NFT knowledge is essential for confirming and transferring digital assets when working in the metaverse.                                                                                                                                     

Qualifications and requirements for metaverse jobs

The specific qualifications and requirements for metaverse jobs will vary depending on the role that you are pursuing. For example, if you are interested in being a developer in the metaverse, completing an undergraduate or graduate degree in computer science may help build a foundation in programming languages. While pursuing a degree, you should focus on elements of portfolio building. Employers in the metaverse space care more about what projects you have created rather than what certificates or courses you have passed. 

Additionally, having experience with either Unreal or Unity is a foundational skill for working with VR. These experiences will show that you are skilled in programming languages such as C# and C++.

Certification for metaverse job roles

Certifications are a great way to enhance your resume and show employers that you’re motivated in your career. The Certified Metaverse Professional (CMP) course will help you learn how the metaverse operates, provide you with use cases of the benefits and challenges associated with the metaverse, and grant you an industry-leading certification. While this certification is not completely necessary, it is trusted and respected by employers at leading organizations, such as IBM, Oracle, and Cisco. 

Learn more about the metaverse 

To learn more about the metaverse, consider taking the University of London's Virtual Reality Specialization or What is the Metaverse?  from Meta, both on Coursera, to get the foundation you need. These beginner-level courses are online and include a flexible schedule. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Article sources


Bloomberg. “Metaverse’s $80 billion ETF assets by 2024 virtually a reality, https://www.bloomberg.com/professional/blog/metaverses-80-billion-etf-assets-by-2024-virtually-a-reality/.” Accessed February 1, 2023.

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