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Updated Feb 09, 2024

How to Become a Video Game Tester

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Sean Peek, Business Ownership Insider and Senior Analyst

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Video games are a multibillion-dollar industry, and players are highly discerning. As a result, quality assurance is paramount in the space, which is where video game testers come in. These professionals investigate the ins and outs of every new game, searching for game-breaking bugs and unpolished glitches. They ensure that games meet the requirements and standards the game company and designers defined when envisioning the product.

There is more to becoming a video game tester than simply enjoying games. To give you a clearer picture of what the job entails, we’ve detailed what video game testers really do, where they usually work and how much money they typically earn.

How to become a video game tester

Here’s some actionable advice for those who want a career as a video game tester.

  1. Develop your testing skills. Game developers aren’t just looking for skilled and passionate players to play their games. Video game testers must demonstrate they can carefully evaluate a game, identify software glitches and effectively communicate with developers to land a job. One of the best places to start is by developing your technical writing skills. Learning how to write a nuanced bug report will improve your chances of landing a job in this area.
  2. Get certified. In the early days of video game testing, knowing the right people and having some skills may have been enough to land a job. Today, however, many video game companies require testers to be certified. Companies like Blizzard Entertainment, Epic Games and Riot Games want job applicants to have International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) certification through the American Software Testing Qualifications Board (ASTQB).
  3. Get technical training. Though not all employers require a college degree for entry-level video game testing positions, it’s not a bad idea to expand your career options by obtaining a degree in computer programming, software development or graphic design. Versatile and well-educated job applicants will have an easier time climbing the corporate ladder and might have a more fruitful career in the gaming industry. [Related content: What You Need to Know About Going Back to School for a Career Change]
  4. Gain some firsthand experience. You can do this by participating in public beta tests of games and interning at gaming companies. Beta testing gives you firsthand experience with a developing project, which you can further supplement by writing about your experiences. Interning at a gaming company can help you get your foot in the door and allow you to talk to seasoned programmers. The more experience you can add to your resume, the better.
  5. Build a strong resume. Creating a resume that is attractive to developers is critical to land a testing job. This means you should customize your resume for each company you apply to based on the specific job posting. Highlight skills and experience that match the required core skills. Finally, since game developers look for the most detail-oriented candidates, proofread your resume before submitting it to ensure there are no grammatical errors. [Need inspiration? Learn about creative job applications.]
Before you begin your journey, it can help to define your career goals. Create a list of your aspirations for your career, and then consider the concrete steps it will take to achieve them. What skills do you need to improve and learn? Do you need to pursue a certification? How can you network effectively to find opportunities? Take some time to think about these important questions.

Video game QA tester jobs and careers

Video games have been around for only a few decades, but the demand for quality control of products goes back much further. Quality control testers repeatedly test products or prototypes before they go on sale to the public. They check for flaws and suggest improvements to the products they test.

Video game testers are quality control personnel who work specifically on video games to check for issues in programming, such as program glitches, broken applications or nonfunctioning visual effects. However, QA testers look for more than glitches. Part of a tester’s job is making sure a game functions the way it was designed to. Even if an application doesn’t break, it might not provide the user experience that the designers intended.

Testers often play the same levels of a video game many times consecutively and cross-check it with a detailed plan that tells them how the game is supposed to function. To make sure the game isn’t full of bugs, the testers keep in constant communication with the programmers and technical game experts in order to know what to expect before they test the game’s initial drafts. When they find errors or areas where the game deviates from the design, testers report them to the game’s development team.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway
Video game testers are quality controllers who specifically work on games to check for glitches and broken applications and to make sure the games function as they should.

Finding video game QA tester job openings

According to Statista, more than 10,000 video games were released online in 2022 alone. As a result, the demand for video game testers is on the rise. But how can avid gamers find their way into this burgeoning and lucrative field of work?  

One of the best places to start is LinkedIn. By utilizing job-hunting tactics specific to your desired career, you can improve your chances of making connections in the video game industry. Improving your LinkedIn profile is a great way to demonstrate your experience and skills, especially if you are active in relevant groups and receive endorsements. You can also take advantage of LinkedIn alternatives.

Because their workspace is completely digital, video game testers can actually work from home if they choose, allowing for a more flexible work style that gels nicely with the current cultural shift to remote work. [Learn how to ace an out-of-state job interview.]

Video game tester salaries and compensation

As for salary, according to career search site Glassdoor, the average pay for game tester jobs is roughly $61,000 per year. Most testers have a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education. 

There’s also a lot of turnover in video game testing. Career site Zippia reports that 43 percent of video game testers stay at their job for less than one year on average, and another 32 percent stay on the job for one to two years. 

Did you know? The average salary for a video game tester is more than $60,000 per year. Entry-level positions could pay as low as $49,000 per year and more experienced testers could earn up to $76,000 annually, according to Glassdoor.

What to consider before becoming a video game tester

Like in many industries, the requirements for becoming a video game tester depend on the exact position for which you apply. Some game developers prefer to hire testers as quality control personnel and create entry-level or contract jobs to this effect.

Other employers wish to employ testers who have a higher understanding of programming and software development. In particular, organizations that have moved to automated testing will look for QA testers with programming and development skills. No matter how much automated testing is done, there is always a need for testers to spend time with games. [Read more about job searching in the digital age.]

Regardless of whether you’re looking for a one-year contract job or want to pursue a long-term career as a video game tester, you will need to craft a resume to attract potential employers. Your resume is only the first step, however – you should also brush up on your interviewing skills.

Every company will have a different hiring process, but if you want to become a video game tester, you’ll have to impress the hiring manager with both your hard and soft skills. Some companies may ask to see examples of your previous work or may even ask you to write a sample bug report to give them a better idea of how you identify issues and communicate them.

Other types of video game jobs

One of the most common statements parents say to their children is that “sitting in front of video games all day will not help you later in life.” As it turns out, playing video games could lead to a very rewarding career – and not just in game testing. The video game industry has changed dramatically over the years, and modern video games are quite technical and interactive. If you’re a dedicated gamer and are considering a career related to video games, there are several other options to choose from besides QA.

Artist or animator

Video games need characters that can come to life, so if you have a sketchbook packed with drawings of characters, these sketches could provide animation inspiration for video games. This type of career is ideal for graphic designers, artists and doodlers. Such a position generally requires a degree in graphic design, game design and/or computer science.

Game developer

A career as a game developer is considered the ultimate job for avid gamers. As a game developer, you’re responsible for making your own games by taking either your ideas or the ideas of others and turning them into a game every gamer will want to play. To be a good fit for this type of job, you should be interested in coding, computer programming and video games in general.

Professional gamer

A coveted job for those who love playing video games is professional gamer. It’s actually possible to make money simply playing video games, provided you’re extremely talented and/or entertaining as you play. Competitive gamers can make money by creating a YouTube channel, which allows you to earn money depending on the number of followers you have, or entering gaming tournaments, where you compete with people from around the world for a chance at taking home monetary prizes.

If you have experience in software development and want to work in the gaming industry, designing custom software for companies could be an excellent step toward that career goal.

Video game writer

In essence, a video game writer plans out the plot and character arcs of characters within a video game. Unlike screenwriters for film and TV, who write out an entire story and hand it off to the director to shoot, video game writers work hand in hand with both the game developers and engineers to make sure the emotional beats of a story align with the mechanics of a game. 

Video game producer

A video game producer oversees all aspects of production on a game, from mapping out the core concept to refining graphics. While the producer offloads specific technical tasks to trained professionals, they turn their focus to the game’s budget and become arbiters of the production’s funds, ensuring the game is delivered on time and (ideally) under budget. 

Video game marketer

The objective of a video game marketer is to shape a game’s narrative for the wider marketplace and make it appealing to prospective buyers. This stage often begins once production is finished and the producers, developers and writers are satisfied with the end result. 

Work and play collide in the video game industry

If you ever wanted to get paid to play video games, working as a quality assurance professional and video game tester might be the career move for you. Although it may sound like all fun and games, this role means hard work and attention to detail. If you have those qualities, though, you can make a good salary working out the bugs in video games before they hit the market. To break into the space, follow the tips above and develop both your technical skills and your network to find opportunities to grow your career.

Tejas Vemparala contributed to this article.

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Sean Peek, Business Ownership Insider and Senior Analyst
Sean Peek is the co-founder of a self-funded small business that employs more than a dozen team members. His years of hands-on entrepreneurial experience in bootstrapping, operations management, process automation and leadership have strengthened his knowledge of the B2B world and the most pressing issues facing business owners today. Peek uses his expertise to guide fellow small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in the areas of marketing, finance and software technology. Peek excels at developing customer bases and fostering long-term client relationships, using lean principles to drive efficiency and cost-saving, and identifying growth areas. He has demonstrated his business savvy through collaborations with Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
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