Game Development Jobs: Salary and Career Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in game development. Read on to learn more about career options along with education requirements and salary. Schools offering Game Production degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Game Developer Do?

Game developers engage in the creative process that goes into the conception, design and production of computer and video games. Trained designers at every stage of development are needed to create a successful video game, including but not limited to creating storylines, maps, game environment, or rules. Artists and animators use their talent on the creative end. Software developers possess the coding abilities to bring it all together. These experts all come together and create a unified vision of the game and its expectations.

Read the chart below to find out about employment options as well as education requirements and average salary for careers in game development.

Software Developer Multimedia Artists and Animators
Degree Required Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Computer sciences, computer programming Game design and development, computer graphics technology, art
Key Responsibilities Create software used for gaming and computers, generate codes for games Write content for video games, build storyboards and characters, create video game concepts
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 17% (all software developers) 6%
Median Salary (2016)** $68,947 (software developer)
$62,330 (video game programmer)
$58,894 (video game designers)
$53,041 (multimedia artists and animators)

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

What Is Game Development?

Game development refers to the process of creating a video or computer game, from the initial conception of the idea all the way to the quality assurance and testing stage, after which the game will be ready for mass production and distribution. Given the complexity of today's video games, game development is usually accomplished by large teams of people.

There are many ways in which you could work as part of a game development team. For example, you could work as a programmer, writing scripts and codes that bring characters to life and allow the game to run on computers or video game consoles.

Alternatively, you could work as a game designer. In that case, you would come up with ideas for the game, create characters and storylines, and design level layouts. Other career options in game development include sound design, art and animation, project management and production.

What Education Do I Need for a Career in This Field?

The educational route you choose depends on which game development job you're interested in pursuing. If you'd like to be a game designer, you could consider enrolling in a bachelor's degree program in game development or game design.

Game development and game design programs are not substantially different. If you choose to enroll in either of these programs, you'll likely learn computer programming, design basics, storytelling and computer graphics. Additionally, many programs require you to complete a game development project, where you'd work with other students to develop a game.

If you'd like to pursue a career as a game programmer, you could major in computer science with a concentration in game design or development. You'll take many of the same courses as students who choose to major in game design or game development.

However, as a computer science major, you could expect to take more math and computer science courses. For example, you might have to take courses in subjects such as discrete mathematics and computer architecture, which are generally not required of game design or game development majors.

What Salary Could I Earn?

In 2016, PayScale reported that video game programmers earned a median salary of $62,330, and software developers earned a median salary of $68,947. The same source stated that video game designers made a median salary of $58,894, and the median salary for multimedia artists and animators was $53,041.

Management careers in game development include video game producers, who oversee the entire production process and coordinate teams working on various aspects of a game's development and release. Video game producers earned a median salary of $70,485 according to PayScale in October 2016.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Alternative careers are plentiful relating to computer software, development, and information. A college degree, at least a bachelor's, is needed to become a computer and information systems manager (CISM), or computer hardware engineer, or computer network architect. Computer and information managers collaborate and direct projects for corporations or institutions. Computer network architects study a client's needs and creates communication networks. Hardware engineers will be found analyzing, researching and designing more productive processors, circuit boards, servers, and networks.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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