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What are the highest paying video game jobs?

The video gaming industry is experiencing unprecedented growth. Even in the years leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic, the market was expanding at a rapid pace. Now, the gaming industry is on track to reach an estimated value of $257 billion by 2025.

These numbers are contributing to an increase in jobs and climbing salaries for professionals working to deliver video games for the world to enjoy. 

Bigger Than Movies An Industry Overview

Market Watch, has shown that the gaming industry is bigger than movies and North American sports combined, with a 20% increase in global sales, rising to nearly $180 billion in 2020.

What does this mean for maker compensation? Gamesmith, based on their own recruiting fees, found that the average male working within the industry was 28 years of age and earned an average $104,000 annually. The average age among females was 27 while their annual earnings were reported at $98,000. We have another article covering this disparity.

When it comes to job retention, the average length of tenure across the board was 4.6 years in 2014 decreasing to 4.1 years in 2016. It continues to drop moving into the 2020’s. 

With this established, let’s take a look at the positions that account for the largest percentage of this massive industry’s earnings. 

Best of The Disciplines

Software Developer – $105,590/yr

A software developer in the video gaming industry often wears many different hats. These positions all revolve around many disciplines, the core concepts of configuring, testing and programming games into something that the players can interact with.

This could take the form designing levels, creating character mechanics and interactions, and even designing the game engines that original products are created on. 

Getting started as a software developer in the gaming industry typically requires a bachelor’s degree and an exceptional ability to function in a team environment.

Designer – $77k/yr

A designer is fundamental in a game’s success. Bridging the disciplines of the artist and the engineers, working to make the game a fun experience. They may be responsible for the user interface and experiences within the game. Payscale, suggests a range of salaries, starting around $40k for those entering the industry, capping out at around the $105k range for those who have 20 plus years of experience.

Artists – $72,520/yr

A video game without compelling visuals to portray it won’t make it very far in today’s competitive market. That’s why artists come at such a high premium. They are tasked with the job of creating everything you see on your screen, from the trees to the start menus to the dragons chasing you back into your house that they, coincidentally, also designed.

Typical job titles associated with art and animation are 3D modeler, environmental artist, character artist, concept artist along with several other areas that cover technical art and UI artist. 

Getting started in game art often requires a bachelor’s degree, but a very strong portfolio will also be key and go a long way to getting a job. Prior team collaboration can also help, so network and work on projects even if they are not commercial releases and showcase your work on Artstation.  

Market Research Analysts – $63,120/yr

Market research analysts are found throughout most fields that create consumer products, not just within the video game industry. Industry-side however, these analysts are charged with the very important task of both protecting and directing the flow of a gaming studio’s investment money.

They scan the market for emerging or dying trends, help set price-points for shipped products, and even drive decisions behind if and when certain products should be released. The studios who utilize these positions are most visible in the mobile and online multiplayer focused games.

Studios typically look for either a bachelor’s or master’s degree when hiring market research analysts. 

Landing the Job

So you’ve been working on one of these skill sets, or are working to aquire them, and you aren’t quite sure where to get noticed? 

Head to the IGDA and search out a local chapter. Depending on where you are located, you might have a very active group that will help to network and find local opportunities. Look for other local groups, which can be discipline focused, engine focused or tools focused and also take advantage that many of these groups are meeting up virtually, and hosting w events for you to learn from, taking away the need to be local. Boston Game Dev meetup is one such group you could take advantage of. platform is another opportunity to showcase your portfolio, claim credit for your work, network with other industry professionals and land that dream job you’ve worked so hard for. 

If you have experience and want to see what you can command in your discipline or location, Gamesmith also features a Game Salary Calculator which you can find here.

Gamesmith is the discovery platform for the professional games industry. Discover the contacts and knowledge you need to achieve your daily goals and KPIs in games. For more information, please contact