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Video Game Tester Job Description, Career as a Video Game Tester, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training:— No specific academic qualification required.

Salary: Median— $49,000 annually

Employment Outlook:— Good

Video game testers are responsible for finding and reporting bugs in games during the different stages of development of a video game. They need to have keen observational abilities, along with good logical and analytical reasoning abilities. Experienced video game testers work closely with programmers and designers, to make sure critical bugs present in games are fixed before the gold disc is created. Their work is stressful and often involves erratic shifts, but the emotional rewards in the end more than make up for it.

Education and Training Requirements

Video game testing requires almost no qualification. The ability to play games continuously for long hours and a passion for playing games is usually enough for getting a job as a game tester. However, a bachelor’s degree in computer science or fine arts certainly gives aspiring candidates an edge when it comes to finding employment in this field.

Getting the Job

Video game testers are often hired off the street. Even casual gamers can get temporary jobs as game testers. However, in order to get permanent employment as video game tester, it helps to have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and good knowledge of programming principles and techniques.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Advancement in this career stream depends on the candidate’s skills as a tester, and his/her instinct to spot errors. The level of technical knowledge that a candidate has may also prove to be an asset, since such a tester would be able to explain the bugs better to the developers and programmers.

Skilled game testers are often promoted to positions of senior testers or lead testers who are responsible for guiding and supervising a group of inexperienced testers. As testers gain somewhere around 3 years of professional experience, they may be promoted to managerial positions as well, provided they have the necessary qualifications. However, newcomers to the game testing field can face stiff competition since many people seek jobs of this kind.

Employment outlook for video game testers is looking good for the coming years. With the sales of video games nearly tripling in the period from 1996 to 2006, the demand for skilled testers has increased manifold.

Working Conditions

Video game testers employed in permanent positions work in spacious, well-lit offices. During the early developmental stages of a game, testers often enjoy regular work shifts and 40-hour work weeks. However, as the games near completion, duration of the shifts increases considerably. It is not uncommon for testers to spend more than 70 hours in office per week during final stages of game development. Freelance testers, on the other hand, enjoy flexible work hours.

Where to Go for More Information

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
2 Penn Plaza, Suite 701,
NY 10121-0701

Entertainment Software Association
575 7th Street, NW
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20004

National Workforce Center for Emerging Technologies
3000 Landerholm Circle S.E.,
Bellevue, WA 98007

Salary, Earnings and Benefits

Video game testers earn very little during the early years. The yearly average salary of experienced video game testers ranges between $18,000 and $80,000. Those working on a contractual basis can earn between $350 and $2,000 per week, while monthly average salaries are in the range of $1000 to $8500.

Permanent testers employed in large organizations enjoy benefits offered to most regular employees, including paid leaves, vacations, and regular work shifts. On the other hand, freelancers or part-time game testers receive little to no benefits, and are often forced to work in cramped surroundings for long hours.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesComputers, IT & Telecommunications