Roadmap to Becoming a Professional Video Gamer: From Degree to Career

Research what it takes to become a professional video gamer. Learn about education requirements, responsibilities, job outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Game Production degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Professional Video Gamer?

Professional positions in the field of video gaming include video game player and video game designer. Although few people pursue careers as professional video game players, there are competitions around the country and the world where video game players play in tournaments to win money. Possible games include Starcraft and League of Legends. However, a more common position is a job as a video game designer or multimedia animator. These professionals create and design the animation, mechanics and interfaces for interactive computer games. For this, they employ both artistic techniques and advanced computer programming skills.

The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Game development, computer science, object oriented programming,
Key Responsibilities Conceptualize and produce interactive computer games
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6%*
Median Salary $63,970 for multimedia artists (2015)*; $58,754 for video game designers (2017)**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

What Should I Study to Become a Professional Video Gamer?

Few options are available for careers in professional video gaming, but your first step should be education. While a formal education isn't required for all video game-related jobs, you'll likely still need a degree to open other career opportunities and advancement. A degree from an accredited college can be a springboard for a job as a programmer or designer.

A number of different degree programs are available, but you may wish to consider a bachelor's or master's degree in game development or computer science. These programs teach you the essentials of designing and testing computer games and console games. Some of the subjects you may study include animation, programming languages, storyboarding, interactive media and media ethics.

How Can I Gain Experience?

You may need more than a degree and a desire to work with games to become a video game professional. A little bit of prep work can go a long way when it comes time to begin your career. Get familiar with different video games, gaming consoles and PC software. As a developer, you should design a demo and build your portfolio or website to showcase your best work.

What Careers Can I Consider?

As a professional video gamer you may have a few career options to consider. People who play video games professionally are sometimes known as pro gamers or cyber athletes. You'll play on consoles and computers, and you can earn prize money and sponsorships by competing in tournaments all over the world.

As a video game tester, you'll help developers work out bugs in a video game before it hits the market. In addition to playing different levels in the game, you're responsible for filling out glitch reports and providing input on how to make a game better.

Video game developers sometimes play video games that are in the development process, but your primary objective would be to create games to be marketed and sold to the public. According to PayScale.com, most video game designers earned an annual salary of $36,679 to $97,956 as of January 2017. With bonuses and profit sharing added, their annual wage was $33,755 to $103,768. Senior video game designers earned a median annual salary of $87,342. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the 2015 median annual wage for multimedia artists and animators, a similar position, at $63,970, with job growth expected at 6 percent between 2014 and 2024, which is about average.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of becoming a video game designer, you could consider a job as a graphic designer. In this job, you could use software to for a wide range of purposes, including creating logos, brochures or print advertisements. Graphic designers need to have at least a bachelor's degree. Alternatively, if you are more interested in the technical aspects of gaming and/or game design, you could consider a position as a computer programmer, where you would use languages like C++ and Java to write code for software developers and engineers. To get an entry-level programming job, you need to have a bachelor's degree.

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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