Video Game Tester Salary and Career Facts

Video game testers test-drive key features of a video game, like characters, graphics and usability, to ensure that a game works properly before hitting store shelves. Learn more about common job duties, qualifications and wages for video game testers. Schools offering Game Production degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Video Game Tester?

As a video game tester, you'll test out every element of a game while it's still in development, including graphic art, characters, levels, special effects and online gameplay. You'll explore every level, character, prop, movement code, evil villain, buried treasure, hidden tunnel and exploding doorway that consumers will be able to access by playing the game. You may also screen for usability; the ideal game should be realistic and not too easy or difficult for its target users.

When you're done, you'll issue a verbal or written report of your findings to game developers and designers. Reports may highlight positive and negative elements of the game, suggest improvements or simply report glitches; they may be issued once or several times during the testing process. Your supervisors - generally game designers or developers - will use the information in your report to make -changes and improvements in the game's design before it's released to the public.

Degree Required High school diploma
Education Required Some employers require certificates in computer science, such as information technology or related areas
Key Responsibilities Test video games for bugs, report findings on performance
Job Growth (2014-2024) 7% (for all occupations related to software development)*
Median Salary (2017) $38,418**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

What Kind of Training Do I Need?

The most important training required to be a video game tester takes place not in a classroom, but on your own leisure time; you must be experienced, knowledgeable and well-versed in video game playing. Because testing a given game requires you to beat each level and defeat every villain, you must be a skilled game player with solid hand-eye coordination. According to industry information published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you'll also need computer knowledge and strong communication skills to compose and submit game reports on company databases (www.bls.gov).

The BLS notes that a college education isn't required to work as a video game tester, but some employers may prefer testers with certificates in computer science. Numerous colleges offer certificates and associate's degrees in information technology, database management or related areas. These programs cover basic computer skills like database queries and management, software applications, multimedia and web development.

Some schools also offer one or several courses related to video game design and development, which can often be taken as electives. Sample topics covered in these courses include video game testing concepts, quality assurance, level design and character animation.

How Much Could I Earn?

According to the salary information website PayScale.com, the middle half of video game testers earned an hourly wage of $8.93-$16.59 in January 2017. Combined with overtime pay and bonuses, this resulted in a middle salary range of $18,925-$64,063. The BLS does not currently collect salary information for video game testers. However, as per video gaming industry information published in fall 2011, quality assurance testers earned about $49,000 annually in 2010 (www.bls.gov).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A computer support specialist is a popular career choice in the computer and technology field that also does not necessarily require a secondary degree. These specialists may work with an organization's IT department to troubleshoot networking problems or may provide technical assistance directly to customers. Another related career is that of web developer, a professional who is responsible for creating both the visual layout and technical code of a website. Educational requirements for web developers vary, but can be as little as a high school diploma.

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