Video game testers, also referred to as quality assurance or QA personnel, look for flaws in video and computer game design so that they can be fixed and polished before being released to the public. When problems are found, testers alert the appropriate department so that it can make changes. Because game testing jobs often have no educational requirements past a high school diploma, the pay for these jobs tends to be lower than for other game industry occupations such as artists, animators and programmers.
National Pay Estimates
As of 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that testers within the software publishing industry earned an average of $37,850 per year. During the same year, "Game Developer" magazine, which conducts an annual compensation survey of the video game industry, found that U.S. QA testers averaged $45,081 per year. This is significantly less than the 2011 salary estimates for game designers at $62,104, animators at $63,214, and programmers at $84,124.
Pay by Region
Figures collected by "Game Developer" magazine illustrate that differences in pay for game testers in 2011 depended on their part of the country. Those employed in the South earned the least, with an average salary of $39,643. Testers in the Midwest reported an average salary of $44,167, while those in the East averaged $47,500. As with most positions in the industry, the West provided the highest average salary for testers, $49,545 per year.
Pay by Experience and Position
According to "Game Developer" magazine, QA testers with less than three years of experience earned an average of $37,500 per year in 2011. Those who had between three and six years of experience made an average of $41,071 per year. With a few years of experience, many testers become lead testers, heading a QA department. As of 2011, QA leads with between three and six years of industry experience averaged $48,382, while those with over six years of experience made an average of $55,192.
Bonuses and Benefits
Above and beyond salary, many QA testers in the game industry reported receiving benefits and additional forms of income. In 2011, 95 percent of all testers reported that their employers provided medical, dental or retirement benefits. In addition, 77 percent of testers received some form of additional income, such as project bonuses, profit sharing, royalties or stock options. As of 2011, the average amount of additional income that video game testers received was $12,640 per year.