How Much Does a Game Designer Make?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs


Giving Your Kids Boasting Rights

These days, the modern equivalent of kids and baseball is kids and video games. If your kids aren't quite old enough, they soon will be, and if you're one of those folks who design the games, your children will be thrilled. If you're a wiz at computer technology and love graphic design, you could make a fine living in this career. The median salary? A very attractive $86,510.

Job Description

Video game design is a very specialized field, often called graphic design. In this career, you work to code programs to create games on different platforms like computers and gaming systems. You need to first create a concept and storyline, then map it into a playable game. You and the rest of the game design team work together to develop and test the game. It's important to eliminate or resolve any bugs or flaws. As a video game designer, you can concentrate on one element of gameplay, like the rule system or environments. As the game development progresses, you have to verify and revise the code as changes are required.

Education Required

No hard and fast rules exist about the background required for game designers. The majority get a bachelor's degree, some get an associate's degree, while a few leap in without college at all, a viable option for those determined to freelance. If you are preparing for this career, your best bet for landing a job is probably to earn a bachelor's of fine arts in graphic design or multimedia art. A degree in these fields offers software training and design theory experience.

This type of four-year program is not mandated, but it can open doors. Since the curriculum includes a practicum component, you will be able to mention your on-the-job experience to potential employers, as well as the video game(s) you created in college. You can also use your school's job fair industry career night to apply for a video game design job with major video game companies such as Nintendo and PlayStation.

The median salary for a game designer is over $86,000. This means that half of the game designers in the country earn more than this, and half earn less. Do you earn more money with a degree than without one? While it is clear that you'll have an easier time getting a job with a bachelor's degree than without, no reliable statistics establish a salary distinction for those hired with and without degrees.

About the Industry

Most game designers work for video game studios. Your future job might be called many different titles. These can include: Design Director, Designer/Writer, Game Designer, Game Designer/Creative Director, Lead Designer, Lead Game Designer, Lead Level Designer, Mid Level Game Designer, Senior Game Designer or World Designer.

Years of Experience

As a game designer, you'll generally earn more as you gain experience. According to PayScale, the average salary for a game designer in the U.S. is $61,000. Entry-level jobs pay some 8 percent less than this, while mid-career workers with five to 10 years experience earn 17 percent more. Those with over a decade of experience may earn up to 30 percent over average, while game designers with 20 years or more experience may earn 61 percent more than the average salary.

Job Growth Trend

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that graphic design employment is expected to rise by 5 percent in the next decade, about average for all industries. Jobs for multimedia artists and animators will grow by 10 percent over the same period, faster than the average industry.