The Best Game Design
Careers of 2021

In the last twenty years, gaming has become incredibly popular. Because of this growth in the industry, there are many video game career paths available. You can work in animation, storyboarding, game development, and more. Read below to learn more about the best game design careers in 2021.

Why Game Design?

You should work in game design because of the job security and creative aspects. The demand for video game designers is at an all-time high, so there will be many more jobs in the future.

Pursuing a career in video game design also allows you to explore your creativity on different levels. As a game developer, there’s no limit to what you can do. You also get to work in a casual environment and specialize in different fields.

Working in the gaming industry comes with an attractive salary. According to PayScale, an experienced senior video game designer can earn $100,500 per year. This average salary is much higher than average, and it can become even higher depending on where you work.

Where Do Game Design Professionals Work?

Game design professionals work for small-scale and large-scale tech companies. However, some choose to venture out as freelancers to train potential game designers, market different games and gaming tools, and work for gaming magazine publications.

Some of the major companies that hire game designers include Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, and Blizzard. Designers work in regular offices but often spend most of their days in gaming development studios. It is also possible to work from home, depending on your specialization.

The Highest-Paying Game Design Careers: 2021 List

The Highest-Paying Game Design Careers: 2021 List

Companies in the video game industry engage in serious competition, which results in plenty of job opportunities. You can choose a specialty from a long list of well-paying jobs, such as game developer, animator, and game writer. The jobs also attract different responsibilities and salaries.

Below we’ve listed 10 of the highest-paying careers in video game design. The salary figures have been sourced from BLS and ZipRecruiter. We’ve also included the job growth projection between 2019 and 2029, as reported by BLS.

Game Designer

Median Salary: $130,000

Projected Job Growth: 22%*

Min. Education Required: BA in Game Design

A game designer is an integral part of the development team. The designer turns ideas into real games to be played on consoles and gaming platforms. Their responsibilities include writing proposals, writing storylines and scripts, creating storyboards, designing games, and creating the game design guidelines.

To become a game designer, you need at least a bachelor’s degree. You can pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Game Design or another computer science topic. With a video game design degree, you will have the opportunity to work with elite companies in the video game industry, such as Nintendo and Ubisoft.

Game Developer

Median Salary: $110,140

Projected Job Growth: 22%*

Min. Education Required: BS in Computer Science

Game developers fall under the software developer category. They collaborate with the game designer to create game applications. The developer designs gaming software and analyzes all user needs before creating the game. You will also ensure the gaming system operates seamlessly by carrying out regular maintenance and testing.

You need a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Game Design, or Interactive Entertainment to work as a game developer. If you have coding or software engineering experience, this is a great choice for you.

Video Game Director

Median Salary: $97,270

Projected Job Growth: -2%

Min. Education Required: BA in Game Design or Film

The video game director oversees the creative elements of the game. Similar to film directors, video game directors control the artistry and dramatization of the game. You need to be creative with an eye for storytelling to qualify as a director.

You will create work schedules for the development team, monitor the budget, edit scripts, assign characters, and manage the team. Video game directors require a bachelor’s degree as a minimum level of education. Although art director jobs are declining, this is still a great leadership career option.

Special Effects Artist

Median Salary: $77,700

Projected Job Growth: 4%**

Min. Education Required: BA in Computer Science or Technical Arts

Special effects artists are in high demand. They create special effects and images that move to create realistic games. For example, they might work with the animator to add in water or fire effects.

You will consult the designer, director, and game developer to edit special effects to perfection. This role requires excellent attention to detail and creativity. If you want to combine your tech and art skills, you should become a special effects artist.

Game Programmer

Median Salary: $69,569

Projected Job Growth: 22%*

Min. Education Required: BS in Software Engineering

A video game programmer is responsible for creating software application codes for the game. You will be in charge of coding complex sequences and algorithms that enhance the game’s design. You will also test the game, document results, and modify and debug the game’s software.

Game programmers can also work in the tech and manufacturing industries as general software developers. As long as you have strong coding skills, this career is a great option for you.

Game Writer

Median Salary: $67,120

Projected Job Growth: -2%

Min. Education Required: BA in English or Professional Writing

The game writer prepares and edits scripts for the game. Well-prepared scripts produce fun and interactive dialogues, which adds to the character of a game. You will work with the game designer and director to develop the plot, assign characters, and prepare dialogues.

Good storylines are essential to developing the game and making it unique. A background in game writing can also lead to other exciting careers in writing. You could also go in to be an author, journalist, or film script writer.

Game Testers

Median Salary: $63,676

Projected Job Growth: 22%*

Min. Education Required: AS in Computer Science or Game Design

Can you imagine spending your days playing video games? Working as a game tester is among the best game design careers. Game testers test the game multiple times and document the results to help the developers identify problems. You will perform quality assurance to ensure the users get a high-quality gaming experience.

Animator

Median Salary: $62,591

Projected Job Growth: 4%**

Min. Education Required: BA in Animation

Animators are in charge of creating visuals for the game. You will design characters and animate the game. Animators collaborate with game designers and special effects artists to bring the characters and story to life.

You will use the latest animation technology and also research trends in the video game industry. Asides from working in the video game industry, animators also work in advertising, print media, film, and more.

Graphic Designer

Median Salary: $53,380

Projected Job Growth: -4%

Min. Education Required: BA in Graphic Design

Graphic designers use computer software to create visual concepts for the game. You will create logos, original images, illustrations, and designs that make the game realistic. You will present your concepts to the designer and director for approval.

Graphic designers work with images and text to create visual elements.
You will also review designs for any errors and correct them before publishing. You can also work in the marketing department. You’ll need to be creative and a fast worker to succeed as a video game graphic designer.

Audio Engineer

Median Salary: $47,420

Projected Job Growth: 9%

Min. Education Required: AS in Sound Engineering

Sound is essential in game design. The audio engineer works with the game programmer to set up audio for the video game system. You will create different sound effects and music and present them to the development team for approval.

You will also monitor and adjust sounds, synchronize dialogues with actions, and record missing sounds. Additionally, the audio engineer keeps all the recordings for the game. Sound can help make a game more realistic and immersive.

*Job growth statistics have been sourced from BLS data on software developers.
**Job growth statistics have been sourced from BLS data on special effects artists and animators.

What Education Is Required to Pursue a Career in Game Design?

What Education Is Required to Pursue a Career in Game Design?

The minimum education requirement for a game design career is an associate degree, but many roles require a bachelor’s degree. You can also pursue a master’s degree if you want to secure high-ranking jobs such as a lead game designer or head of the animation department.

Most people with an associate degree qualify for entry-level jobs. You can continue your education through online learning to earn better positions within your organization. A bachelor’s degree unlocks many more career paths within game design. With a bachelor’s degree, you can earn more senior roles and a higher salary.

Can I Study Game Design Online?

Yes, you can pursue an online Bachelor’s Degree in Game Design or a related field from many universities worldwide. Some of the best online game design schools include Baker University, Davenport University, Liberty University, and Baltimore University.

Online classes allow you to work as you study. Most class schedules are flexible, allowing you to learn at your own pace. Studying online means you can learn from anywhere globally as long as you have a stable Internet and a computer. It also helps you save money on transportation and accommodation.

You can also enroll in game design bootcamps. These are designed to teach you specific industry skills using an intense learning style over a shorter period. Bootcamps are a good option if you want to save time and money.

Common Entry-Level Jobs in Game Design

Entry-level jobs allow applicants to gain first-hand experience in the gaming industry. You can get many entry-level game design jobs with an associate degree. Most of these jobs offer support to the development team. You will carry out research, offer assistance to your department head, and shadow the development team.

You can apply for the following entry-level jobs as an associate degree holder. The salary projections are from PayScale, and the job growth projections are from BLS.

Entry-Level Software Engineer

Entry-Level Salary: $68,040

Projected Job Growth: 22%*

Min. Education Required: AS in Software Engineering

The entry-level software engineer will work with the game developer and programmer to improve the game. As you are learning, most of your responsibilities will be to support the wider team. You will contribute to coding, debugging, and testing the game.

Backend Developer

Entry-Level Salary: $61,042

Projected Job Growth: 22%*

Min. Education Required: AS in Computer Science

Backend developers offer support to the game programmer by implementing backend support for the gaming software. Backend implementation is especially vital for online games. To avoid exposing user information, you will work with the game programmer to design, debug, and deliver backend features.

Junior Game Developer

Entry-Level Salary: $57,391

Projected Job Growth: 22%*

Min. Education Required: AS in Computer Science

As a junior developer, you will work directly under the senior game developer. Your role entails a lot of research, data visualization, and coding. You will also collaborate with other development team members. Coding skills are essential for a game developer. You can attend an online coding bootcamp to improve your skills.

Entry-Level Game Designer

Entry-Level Salary: $55,501

Projected Job Growth: 22%*

Min. Education Required: AS in Game Design

Entry-level game designers work under the lead game designer. Associate game designers assist in designing game levels, rules, user interfaces, and other necessary tools. Skills in programming, design, writing, and managing projects are essential.

Proposal Writer

Entry-Level Salary: $48,647

Projected Job Growth: -2%

Min. Education Required: AS in Professional Writing, English, or Journalism

Proposal writers work with the designer and director to write a comprehensive proposal for the whole project. The proposal contains the budget, timeframes, and the development team’s vision.

As an entry-level proposal writer, you will gather information from all the departments involved in the production. You will also offer the lead proposal writer support with administrative tasks such as typing and printing. Job growth data for proposal writers has been sourced from BLS data on writers and authors.

*Job growth statistics have been sourced from BLS data on software developers.

Is a Game Design Career for Me?

If you have creative and technical skills, then a career in video game design is a perfect fit for you. The potential for job growth is outstanding, and you’ll get to earn money being creative and doing something you love.

Take time to research how the video game industry works and the best game design careers. Once you have a clear picture of the industry, pursue appropriate degree programs to solidify your position in the video game industry. With the right education, you can join the industry as a game developer, game tester, game programmer, and more.

Find a training program that will help you start your tech career journey.

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