The Salary of a Video Game Tester
When it comes to salary questions in the Video Game Industry you must be very careful to trust only reliable sources because some websites out there will pretend testers make a lot of money just to sell you expensive/useless training.
As a Video Game Tester you can expect to be paid between $10 and $15 per hour, gross. Which is between $20 000 and $30 000 per year.
Yes, that’s not a lot. And don’t forget that many testers are not permanent employees. They’ll often get hired for the duration of a specific project.
This salary range is given based on my personal experience.
Now there’s always exceptions. In some companies, localization testers will earn more because their linguistic skills are considered as an additional asset. Lead testers will obviously earn a little more because they have more responsibilities. The salary range mentioned here is for the regular manual testers.
But wait, why should you believe those numbers? It’s easy to make claims, just like other website are claiming you can become rich by testing games. Ok, here are the sources
Indeed.com is a quite popular job board collecting salary data on the job offers and making them available for the public to query. Just go to theIndeed salary tool, enter a job title and a location (in the US).
The following is what indeed returns when you entering “Video Game Tester” and specifying no location (which means you get the average for the US):
$19 000 per year. So far it confirms the range mentioned earlier.
But to be fair we should consider that Indeed sometimes returns strange results, probably because of the automated way it gathers and processes data. We need to check more sources.
Gamasutra salary survey
Gamasutra is website dedicated to the other side of video games: the creation of the game. They dub themselves “The Art and Business of making games”. They are well known and respected in the community.
Every year they have a survey on salaries in the gaming industry. Let’s check what the the survey of 2011 has to say about testers:
Quality Assurance: Quality assurance professionals (testers and QA leads) are the lowest-paid workers in the games industry for yet another year — and in 2011, their average salary decreased to $47,910 from $49,009 in 2010. The salary hit was mostly felt by QA leads with over six years of experience, while those with less experience in the field actually earned more.
Surprise: Here the numbers are way higher. Why? A wild guess would be that the QA category contains regular manual testers but also lead testers, QA managers and any kind of specialist (sound testing, automation testing) that would tend to increase the average salary.
Looks like we need more sources to confirm the range given in the first section of this article.
Glassdoor is a website gathering employment data on a volunteer basis. Basically any professional can decide to report its own situation, including salary/benefits, job title, experience, education… And then Glassdoor will let them access the data. Some of the data is accessible even when you haven’t signed up.
Let’s see what they have for Game Tester salaries:
Note that the salaries can be given hourly, monthly or annually. This is indicated in the column on the left. The column on the right reports the amount as it was given by the user, but places it on a scale where we can compare annual salaries. As you can see, all of the 9 persons who reported their salary are within the range provided earlier.
This is a small sample of course, but it’s still informative.
There’s a couple more tools like Indeed or Glassdoor that would allow to continue estimating the salary of a Video Game Tester. But at this point it seems safe to say that the rate of $10/$15 per hour is accurate for a regular Video Game Tester.
Of course you could be an exception and earn more. But do not fall for the inflated remuneration levels claimed on websites trying to sell you material for the job.