The VFX industry at it's heart revolves around two key pieces of software, Maya and Nuke. It would be advisable to learn as much about these tool as possible and be able to show a good working knowledge before applying for a position.
Beyond these software products a second layer would be good to know depending on the position your aiming for. These could include:
Modelling: ZBrush / Modo
Texturing: Mari / Substance Designer
Matchmove: 3DEqualizer / PFTrack
Roto Prep : Silhouette / Mocha
FX: Houdini / Realflow
Crowds: Houdini / Massive / Golaem Crowd
Groom: Yeti / Shave and a Haircut
Digital Matte Painting & Environments: Photoshop / Vue / Terragen
LookDev & Lighting: Katana / Clarisse iFX
Rendering: RenderMan / Arnold / V-Ray
General Technical Understanding
Along with knowing a variety of software, other specific more general skills are essential. Depending on the area you're interested in, these could include:
Understanding VFX 2D and 3D Files (.exr, .abc, ptex, etc)
Understanding the storage and manipulation of colour in a file, including Gamma & LUTS, Gamut (sRGB / ACES, etc), Depth (8bit / 32bit, etc), Channels (3 / 4 / 1024, etc), etc
Hard Surface and Organic Modelling with correct Topology
Matchmoving (Camera, Object and Geometry Tracking)
Concatenation and Filter Algorithms
Matrix and Kernels
Multipass Rendering and Compositing
Scripting (Python, MEL, etc)
Understanding and working with Cropped Sensor Camera data
Rigging (Biped, Quadruped, Mechanical)
Understanding Camera Overscan or Lens Distortion work-flows
Dynamics (Rigid Bodies, Soft Bodies, Particles, Fluids, Cloth, etc.)
Shaders (Monolithic vs. Node Based)
As everyone knows the VFX industry is extremely technical, often leveraging state-of-the-art technologies to keep up with the demands of today’s cutting edge Directors.
However, a good grounding in more traditional skills is essential
Below we have outlined a few examples of traditional skills that help form the foundations of each department:
Modelling: Sculpting, understanding of basic human and animal anatomy, life drawing, technical drawing.
Texturing: Fine art, painting and technical photography.
Matchmove: Maths, photography & cinematography.
Rigging & Animation: Acting, understanding of basic human and animal anatomy, facial expressions, mechanics, physics and 2D animation.
FX: Physics, maths and 2D effects animation.
Digital Matte Painting & Environments: Colour theory, understanding of vanishing points and use of varying perspectives, architecture, framing, geography, photography and cinematography.
LookDev, Lighting & Rendering: Colour theory, photography and cinematography.
Compositing & Roto Prep: 2D animation, colour theory, photography & cinematography.