Quality assurance testing is a sought-after job not only because it involves playing video games for pay, but also because it requires little formal education compared to other game design occupations such as animation and programming. However, this doesn't mean that it's an easy, low-stress job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the video game industry made over $10 billion in sales in 2009, and workers at all levels, including testers, are pressured to make sure that games are a financial success.
National Pay Scale:
According to a 2011 salary survey conducted by Game Developer Magazine, quality assurance testers in the video game industry with fewer than three years of experience earned an average of $36,136 per year. Those with between four and six years of experience averaged $45,769 per year. On average, male video game testers, who made up 95 percent of workers, averaged about $48,000 per year, while female testers made an average of $62,500 annually. The overall average salary for QA testers in the U.S. at all levels of experience was just over $49,000 per year.
Pay by Level of Education:
As far as video game testing goes, the Game Developer Magazine salary survey reveals that higher education doesn't mean better pay. Those with only a high school diploma or GED made the most, averaging $52,500 per year. Those with some college or an associate degree averaged between $49,000 and $50,000 per year. Testers who held a bachelor's degree reported the lowest average earnings, just under $43,000 per year.
Pay by Region:
Data collected for QA testers in 2011 also bucks the regional trend in that this is the only occupation in the industry where those in the West were out-earned by their counterparts in other regions. In fact, while testers in the West averaged $47,167 per year, those in the East earned $49,643 per year on average. The lowest average salary, $35,833 per year, was reported by video game testers working in the South.
Over and above their salary, 73 percent of video game testers reported receiving additional income through their job. The most common forms of additional income were an annual bonus or employer contributions to a pension plan, but some also reported receiving stock options or royalties. The average amount of bonus income reported was $7,824 per year as of 2011. Ninety-three percent of video game testers polled also reported receiving some form of benefits from their employers, whether medical, dental or enrollment in a retirement fund.