They say if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. What could be better than helping create video games like the ones you cherish the most? No matter what your favorite genre is, there’s a job and company in the industry for you. You may even decide to one day go solo and launch your own studio or create your own title entirely from scratch. All of that starts with finding the right career path for you. Take a look at these top-paying careers and see if any of them strike your fancy. In addition to a brief overview of what each job entails, you’ll also get an inside scoop on what type of education and experience you’ll need to get hired.
Do I Need a Degree?
Not only 20 years ago, finding a college that offered specialized degrees in video game development would have been virtually impossible, but today, students can choose from dozens of different degree programs and concentrations. From character animation to engineering, there are limitless opportunities for someone who wants to take their passion into higher education. Most jobs in gaming tend to focus more on demonstrable skills rather than static credentials during the hiring process.
However, with so many incredibly talented self-taught people on the market, it’s important to help yourself stand out as much as possible. Getting a degree in game development can help you stand out and ensure that you are being taught the most up-to-date, in-demand skills in your field. If you’re worried about the cost, there are plenty of flexible degree programs online that put choice in your hands. In addition to choosing the most affordable and high-value degree, you can also explore different types of student loans. These are versatile loan packages that help students like you finance their entire education and repay over time after they graduate and start their career.
Careers in development are always booming, especially as technology evolves and studios are opting to make products for next-gen consoles and optimized PCs. Professional developers, also called software engineers and programmers, build the framework of an entire game through coding and programming languages. The exact salary will vary based on location, experience and even the size of the studio you’re working for, but you can expect at least $40,000 as a beginner with the ability to quickly scale up to over $150,000 per year.
A degree in software development or computer science will benefit you the most if you want to master all the languages and skills you need in a short period of time. While there are successful self-taught game developers, their path typically takes much longer than the average college student. You would need a decent amount of experience and killer portfolio to stand out during the application process without a degree.
The art style of any franchise typically becomes one of its most beloved characteristics. As a designer, you would be responsible for bringing the world of a series to life. From characters to landscapes and everything in between, your artistic talents would literally construct the world that players come to immerse themselves in. You’re not just illustrating an idea; you’re bringing an entire universe and story to life. Earning a bachelor’s in game design, art or media could benefit you greatly on this path. It’s also a good idea to work on building a professional portfolio that details your versatility and skill as an aspiring designer. Expect to earn between $40,000 as a newcomer and over $100,000 in a senior-level position.
The entire player’s journey is established by a story, and it’s a writer’s job to create a tale that’s engaging and memorable. In addition to laying the groundwork of lore and backstory, writers also craft menu and UI text and dialogue. You can earn a degree in a field like English or Journalism to hone your writing skills, and expect to earn an average of $62,000 annually at a decent studio. You could also go freelance and choose what jobs you take. This can often lead to long-term contracts that function as a full-time job.
Market Research Analyst
Who wants to play a game, and how do you make sure they are drawn to a product? A marketer who specializes in the gaming industry researches audiences and works with a company to help them time releases, set price points and even decide what product to develop next. A bachelor’s in marketing or business is the most direct path to this career, and you may consider exploring different specializations like data analytics or marketing analysis. The average salary will vary from location, but the average starting income should be between $42,000 and $65,000 with the ability to earn well over $100,000 in a few years.