February 20, 2024

4 min

Video Games

Juan Jimenez

Marketing Manager

5 Video Game Jobs Paying $100K Or More

We have previously discussed that video game development is an exciting experience full of many intertwined skills. The big winners in the industry are usually those who can quickly learn the notions and fundamentals of game development and drive themselves to achieve their goals through passion, sweat, and tears.


But passion alone doesn't pay the bills. Developing video games is a very time-consuming task. For that reason alone,many aspiring game developers would understandably be more comfortable with a generous monthly paycheck. Fortunately, and particularly in AAA studios withconsiderable funding, several positions within the industry pay very well: some can even exceed $100,000 per year with ease.


Now, what are the paths that lead to this kind of remuneration? Well, while these pay levels are not unusual — especially inNorth America, where the industry provides the juiciest salaries — it is crucial that you are aware that specific conditions apply. That's why your friendly neighbours at Haptic have decided to guide you and make it as easy as possible.


Here are the best-paid routes to the videogame industry.

Game Designer


To no one's surprise, it is being a game designer is a career path that can be surprisingly lucrative, especially at higher levels of experience. As we've blogged about before, the skills and talents required for this position are particular and require an intimate knowledge of how a game works and how the audience thinks.


And these kinds of insights, as well as being gained primarily through practice, are comparative advantages that, when comingwith a considerable track of results, can pay very, very well indeed. According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a video game designer in 2023 in theUnited States is around $105,000 at renowned, well-funded studios.


From there, the sky is the limit. While the popular recruitment website notes that the 90% percentile can earn as much as$165,000 a year, Career Karma claims that the industry's best-known and most successful game designers - especially if positioned as lead or principal designers - can earn as much as $400,000 a year.


It is a well-known and documented truth;writing code pays amazingly well. Salaries for programmers and developers tendto be among the highest among non-management positions in the technologyindustry: the video game sector is also prone to this. While ZipRecruiter notesthat the average video game programmer's payroll is around $86,642 yearly, moreexperienced programmers can earn up to twice that.


It's not uncommon for mid-level programmers —with three years of experience and counting — to easily top the $100,000-a-year mark. According to Game Industry Career Guide, if yourexperience and leadership lead you to a senior position, such as a technical director or director of engineering, you could take home a paycheck of up to$250,000 a month.

QA Tester (Mid+)


Typically, jobs as video game testers or quality management assistants tend to be entry-level jobs where the pay, whilecompetitive, is not particularly enticing. But this is where not only the experience and added value you can offer as a quality manager becomes decisive; also, the mileage may vary depending on what companies and projects you have worked for.


The popular job information and review website Glassdoor notes that a QA tester in an entry-level position can earn around$58,905 a year. However, as they gain experience, soft skills, and games to their testing portfolio, testers with more seniority can earn as much as$105,000 yearly.


A QA manager, on the other hand, can expect to average about $185,000 per year, including productivity bonuses andcommissions.

Art Direction | CreativeDirection


We'd love to state that video game artist positions are often lucrative enough to exceed the $100,000 mark. But, while it's a high-paying and rewarding career, the average salary for a video game artist - whether 2D, 3D, or all-in-one - is around $75,000, according to ZipRecruiter.


However, those artists with enough experience to lead teams and become art directors will find themselves in a much better position to command salaries that border or far surpass the desired $100K goal. According to Career Explorer, the average salary for an art director is around$90,270, rising to $144,820 in most cases depending on their portfolio, resume, and past projects.


According to Zippia.com, these bands can be even higher on the United States West Coast. In most cases, the average salary for art directors or creatives can easily exceed $125,743 and go as high as $ 200.

Audio Engineer | Sound Engineer


Every gamer knows immersion and suspending disbelief are critical to creating a unique video game world. The precise balancebetween music, ambient sounds and other sound effects can often make or break a video game. Because of this, jobs as an audio or sound engineer on a video gamecan be incredibly lucrative, especially on the West Coast.


Ideal for musicians, editors, or sound experts, these jobs require commitment, patience, and rapport with the art teamof the game or studio you are a part of. The high ceiling of theoretical knowledge and constant investment in equipment, technology, and maintenance means that not everyone can lead these positions easily. In the AAA development space, this fact usually translates into massive profits.


While entry-level salaries in these positions are over around $31,000, according to ZipRecruiter, more experienced and career sound engineers can easily command $95,500 base salaries at the most reputable studios. Meanwhile, leadership positions at the most successful video game companies can exceed a $140,000 base salary.

Honorable Mention: Almost EveryManagement Role


Business and management positions in the technology industry tend to have large payrolls, an increasingly common reality in the video game industry. Experienced project managers, product managers, and game producers can break the $100K barrier, especially in those studios withconsiderable funding.


In those development models where loyalty and consistent user acquisition — such as in games-as-a-service and mobile games —are of the utmost importance, the management positions associated with these skills are also highly lucrative. We had no trouble finding roles such asDirector of Analytics or Director of Loyalty and Subscriptions at Indeed.com, with yearly payrolls well over $175,000.


Meanwhile, mid to senior-level positions within video game marketing and advertising can also result in highly valuedsalaries. While average entry-level salaries in marketing management roles hover around $64,331 per year, according to ZipRecruiter, experience andselection by highly funded studios often double this salary band.


So how lucrative can this business be? Well, let's take an ideal example: a marketing director at Riot Games, according toGlassdoor, can expect to earn over $300K per year.

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