Online Degree Programs for Aspiring Video Game Testers

Learn about degree programs that can prepare you to test video games. Find out whether the programs are offered online and classes offered in them, along with the typical duties of video game testers. Also, check out what else you can do with game tester skills and how much you could expect to earn. Schools offering Game Production degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Degree Should I Get if I Want to Be a Game Tester?

If you want to be a game tester, you can enter the field with a number of degrees; there is no specific degree needed. However, game testing degrees do exist at the associate level and are usually offered at community colleges. Associate's degrees in game testing equip you with programming, software development and general computer skills. Additionally, you can expect to learn about the video game development process in general.

However, you don't need an associate's degree in game testing to be a game tester; in fact, this degree is relatively rare. Instead, you can get one of many bachelor's degrees that equip you with the essential skills game testers need, including excellent written or oral communication skills, technical aptitudes (especially with computers) and, most importantly, substantial experience with video games. For this reason, you might pursue a degree in which you can hone your communication skills, such as English, mass communication, journalism or marketing. Likewise, you could pursue a degree that helps hone technical skills, such as computer engineering, software application programming, networking or information technology.

Degree OptionsAssociate's degrees in game testing available but rare; can pursue bachelor's degrees in other fields to learn required skills
Online OptionsMany bachelor's degrees that can equip you with skills are found online; technical degrees are rare
Job DutiesTest, find and fix bugs in games; write reports showing findings; make design suggestions
Other Career OptionsProgrammer, market analyst, producer, sound designer
Median Salary (2018)*$105,590 (for software developers)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)*24% growth (for software developers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Can I Get the Required Degree Online?

Most of the previously mentioned degrees can be found online. However, some of the more technical degrees, like software engineering or hardware engineering, may be more difficult to find in online formats because they often require more hands-on training.

What Does a Game Tester Do?

As a game tester, you have two primary responsibilities. The first, the most important, and the one on which you will spend the most time is finding bugs in the game, which often means completing specific assignments many times. For example, you might play Level One 20 times, while another tester plays Level Two 20 times. There are different structures and testing methods you must follow, which are usually set up by the game development team.

When you find a bug, you'll retrace your steps until you find the specific cause, which might be a single event or a long sequence of actions. This is because bugs have to be reproduced and demonstrated in order for programmers to fix them. You will then include this information, in very specific detail, in a report. The length and number of reports typically depends on the complexity and length of the game.

Your second responsibility will be to make design suggestions. The extent of these suggestions is usually regulated by the developer to prevent testers from getting carried away by writing reports about what they want in the game instead of writing about technical issues. For example, you might suggest a given item should become available at one level instead of another. This is valuable input, since game testers often play more games than developers.

What Else Can I Do With These Skills?

The BLS suggests that game testing could be a way to break into the highly-skilled job of game development. Jobs you could pursue after having worked with a company as a game tester include the following:

  • Producer
  • Programmer
  • Market analyst
  • Sound designer
  • Artist
  • Writer

How Much Will I Get Paid?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not have any data for full-time game testers; however, they note that temporary game testing jobs pay between $6.50 and $8.00 per hour. Because larger game developers are likely to require more extensive testing, more technical insight and more discretion regarding classified information, they are also likely to pay more.

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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