The Highest-Paying
Game Design Careers: 2021 List

The gaming industry is an extremely popular field in tech. This means the demand for professionals with extensive knowledge in developing video games is rising. Game designers get to combine creativity and coding skills to create dynamic gameplay for online games, mobile apps, and console games.

If you want to find out what the highest-paying job in game design is today, keep reading. We also feature a list of the best entry-level game design jobs, job outlook, and reasons to start your video game career path. Read below to learn more about the best game design careers in 2021.

What Is Game Design?

Game design is the art of conceptualizing game plots, character interactions, and game environments. Game design draws its basis from computer science, programming, and graphic design. There are many game design career paths in a variety of fields.

Game designers possess the technical ability and artistic vision to create in-demand video games. In a development team, you will find level designers, game artists, game writers, system designers, and interface designers all working together to create a cohesive game.

If you learn game design, you should expect to cover all the basics to help you land job positions in the gaming industry. Some topics include simulation, advanced 3D modeling, 3D digital sculpting, animation, texturing, game engines, and game analytics and statistics. Keep reading to find out where these skills may lead you.

Game Design Job Outlook and Salary Potential

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), art and design occupations will decline by four percent between 2019 and 2029. The website predicts a loss of over 32,000 jobs in the industry. However, this does not mean you should stop pursuing your dream career in game design. You just need to ensure that you have the proper skills to land jobs.

The BLS goes on to indicate that the median salary of professionals in the arts and design occupations is $49,600 per year. You can easily increase this figure by attaining more industry experience, getting certified, or pursuing advanced education.

At a Glance: Highest-Paying Game Design Careers

We have compiled a list of the highest-paying careers in game design and development in 2021. If you are unsure of the best game design job to pursue, take a look at the list below.

Job growth statistics are based on the increase in opportunities between 2019 and 2029 and have been retrieved from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Average salary information comes from PayScale and the BLS.

Job Title Projected Job Growth Median Pay
Software Developer 22%* $110,140
Computer Programmer -9% $89,190
Animator 4%** $77,700
Web Developer 8%*** $77,200
Mobile Application Developer 22%* $73,051
Video Game Designer 4%** $66,217
UI Designer 8%*** $64,944
Video Game Developer 22%* $64,442
Game Artist 4%** $57,394
Graphic Designer -4% $53,380

*From BLS statistics on software developers
**From BLS statistics on multimedia artists and animators
***From BLS statistics on web developers and digital designers

The Best Game Design Careers: 2021 List

The Best Game Design Careers: 2021 List

Video game companies want professionals who can create aesthetically pleasing and functional games. As a result, there are plenty of jobs in game design for you to explore. Take a look at the highest-paying careers in the video game design industry below.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or Software Development

You will find many software developers working in the entertainment and video game fields. These professionals must have extensive skills in programming, computer science, computer software engineering, mathematics, teamwork, and time management. This is a collaborative job, especially in the video game industry.

It is essential that, as a professional, you can carry out basic software development activities. You must be able to manage, design, and test software programs. You should also be able to write code, deploy software tools, and upgrade software systems.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or Programming

Computer programmers are well-versed with popular programming languages such as HTML, Java, and PHP. Their ability to tackle these languages makes their role dynamic in any tech environment. A multimedia programmer is highly involved in the creation of interfaces, software, applications, and websites.

Once they complete the degree program, they will have the knowledge and skills to land a job in the industry. These necessary skills are computer science, graphic design, web design, and software engineering. This will provide the proper foundation for a successful career in video game programming.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Computation Arts, or Animation

To become a successful animator in the gaming industry, you must have artistic and technical capabilities. These qualities are highly recommended due to the demanding nature of the job. You might find yourself working on multiple projects simultaneously, and if you do not have the required organizational ability, you may find the job difficult to handle.

Employers rely on animators to create films for video games. In addition, they provide business owners with creative designs and solutions for their unique technological needs. As a result, they heavily rely on applications such as Maya, After Effects, and Flash.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or Web Development

A successful web developer has a series of skills that make them valuable professionals in IT. These professionals tend to know HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. They are also proficient in responsive design, search engine optimization (SEO), and debugging. These skills form the basis of web development but can also be used to become a web designer.

A web developer is responsible for writing efficient and testable code for web-based games. It’s an important responsibility that features data integration, user interface creation, and the maintenance of software documentation. Hiring companies want their employees to be team players as many of these professionals collaborate with a larger team.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science

To be a mobile application developer, you will need a particular set of skills to succeed in a dynamic technology environment. You must at least have communication, analytical, problem-solving, and coding skills. These are basic entry-level requirements for mobile app development.

Employers need mobile application developers who can code, debug, and monitor mobile gaming applications. In addition, the company will rely on you to provide effective recommendations for the software application. Whether you have experience building applications for iOS, Windows, Android, or Symbian, you can land a job in tech.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Computation Arts, or Animation

Without a video game designer, there would be no video games. These professionals are highly creative, and they design the layout of a video game. They create the characters, storylines, events, environment, and levels of the video games. They usually work in collaboration with video game developers and project managers.

If you have a passion for gaming, you might want to be on the other side of the console. Gaming is a billion-dollar industry, and it’s growing every year. Make sure you master C# and C++ if you want to have a successful gaming career. You can also familiarize yourself with Unity, Unreal Engine, or Game Maker.

Min. Education Required: Associate Degree in Computer Science or Web Design

User interface (UI) designers are responsible for creating authentic and engaging designs to improve user experience. In addition, these professionals take the initiative to conduct user research, curate information architecture, design the wireframes, and test products with real users. These skills make them highly sought after by gaming companies.

Business owners rely on UI designers to create user-centered designs. An experienced UI designer will research the voice of the customer, usability findings, and customer feedback. These professionals collaborate with product development teams to see the design to completion.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or Video Game Development

To become a video game developer, you must have extensive skills in programming. The job description of video game developers requires them to have experience in database design, software development frameworks, UI design, and virtual reality software design. These skills form a solid foundation for a successful career in the gaming industry.

The main job of a video game developer is to design and develop video games for the Internet, mobile applications, or entertainment consoles. Their responsibility is to write code, debug, and troubleshoot whenever an issue arises. They are also heavily involved in character development, animation, and unit testing.

Min. Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or Visual Arts

To land a job as a game artist or a video game artist, you will need a particular set of skills. Most employers look for professionals with an eye for design and lighting. Therefore, they can require these professionals to have exceptional drawing skills. In addition, artists must have in-depth knowledge of 2D and 3D design.

It will be quite difficult to successfully land a game artist job without visual storytelling and visual language skills. In addition, you must know how to connect with the user and keep them engaged. All these skills are necessary if you want to create unique 2D and 3D art for video games.

Min. Education Required: Associate Degree in Graphic Design

Graphic designers are responsible for creating aesthetically pleasing images. In addition, they help businesses gain traction in their respect by providing valuable insight regarding logos or general business outlooks.

You will find graphic designers working on different projects at a time. You can achieve these designs by using applications such as Adobe Illustrate, Photoshop, and InDesign. Once you master all technical skills, ensure you have the desired soft skills to land jobs in the gaming industry easily.

What Education Do I Need to Pursue a Career in Game Design?

Most game design careers require a four-year Bachelor’s Degree in Game Design, Computer Science, Computation Arts, or Graphic Design. However, there are other potential education pathways like attending a vocational program, a top game design bootcamp, or a massive open online course (MOOC) platform.

If you want an entry-level job, you can attend an associate degree program that will equip you with on-demand programming skills. In addition, they provide a more affordable alternative to four-year degrees. It is important to note that most hiring gaming companies employ professionals with bachelor’s degrees.

Common Entry-Level Game Design Jobs

If you do not want to pursue a four-year video game design degree, you can easily substitute for an associate degree. However, both degrees tend to only open entry-level job opportunities, especially if you do not have the experience. Take a look at some of the job opportunities you can land below.

Backend Developer

Entry-Level Pay: $61,042

There is a huge difference between front end and backend developers. Backend developers are key in ensuring the server, database, and applications are properly maintained. They work in collaboration with user experience designers, programmers, front end developers, and full stack developers.

Backend developers have extensive skills in C#, Ruby, PHP, Java, MySQL, Oracle, and SQL. In addition to technical skills, these professionals should have extensive soft skills. They should be meticulous, possess good communication skills, and have good problem-solving skills.

Front End Developer

Entry-Level Pay: $60,932

Most companies advertising front end developer positions have a specific list of requirements. If you know HTML and CSS, you will have an easier time during job interviews. These companies look for professionals with passion and creativity to provide the best products.

Front end developers ensure there is a balance between a website’s functionality and its aesthetic nature. As a result, they are well equipped to ensure the user experience is optimum while still maintaining brand consistency. If you want to land an entry-level position, you might also want to learn jQuery and JavaScript.

Game Programmer

Entry-Level Pay: $57,304

Do you know who is behind the code of video games? Game programmers take the design ideas of video game designers and write code. To be good at your job, you must learn programming languages like C++ and game development platforms like Unity.

A mastery of the mentioned skills will help you in the development and implementation of the game software. You should also learn how to create unit tests. This is a highly collaborative position in tech. You will find game developers, quality assurance, game designers, and audio engineers in your circle.

Audio Engineer

Entry-Level Pay: $43,325

Audio engineers are responsible for recording high-quality sound effects for audio or videos. They are well equipped to minimize unwanted sounds and regulate volume levels. Most audio engineers receive their training from vocational programs. These platforms equip them with hands-on experience to tackle any audio issue in the real world.

There are a few cases where audio engineers seek certification. Once you sit for the Society of Broadcast Engineers exam, you can become a Certified Audio Engineer. This certification is instrumental in landing more job opportunities, getting industry recognition, and personal fulfillment in the gaming industry.

Game Tester

Entry-Level Pay: $40,000

Game testers are exceptional professionals whose sole responsibility is to check for bugs in the later stages of video game development. However, they are still responsible for checking the entire game for glitches to be addressed. To be excellent at this job, you must know about video game design.

As a game tester, you must play the entire game from the beginning to the end. You should incorporate each character and play all levels in the game. As this is a lower-paying entry-level position, it’s accessible to anyone with an associate degree, certificate, or bootcamp training.

Can I Study Game Design Online?

Yes, you can study game design online. There are plenty of online Bachelor’s Degrees in Computer Science to help you jumpstart your career. You can also opt for online Associate Degrees in Computer Science.

Online programs are best suited for working professionals. This is because these programs offer the flexibility needed to work and study at the same time. So, if you are not ready to quit your job just yet, you might want to pursue the online option.

Should I Pursue a Game Design Job?

Yes, you should pursue a game design job. There are plenty of game design career paths for you to select. You can harness enough skills and knowledge to get an entry-level position easily. If you prove you have the skills and capability to build interactive and appealing designs, you can land a job in the industry.

Game design jobs also offer professionals the freedom they need to work. Whether there is a pandemic or not, you can easily meet your work objectives at home without stepping into the office, unlike other IT jobs. Starting a career in game design will be very promising. You will have the creative freedom to build fantastic video games in the industry.

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