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An increasing number of international students are making the decision to turn their love of playing video games into lucrative careers in game design in the United States. Game design is a diverse field with many potential career paths. This article helps identify a number of potential careers in game design and their average starting salaries.

One of today’s most exciting fields of study amongst international students is that of game design. The reasons for this decision are numerous, but the exceptional prospects for careers in game design play a key role in the field’s ability to draw the attention of international students. Besides being the dream job of many gamers, careers in game design come with the benefits of uncommonly high starting salaries and relaxed work environments that thrive on creativity. Moreover, game designers will get to work in development studios as parts of teams assembled for one purpose: to create the next sensational gaming title which will be found in households across the nation. This article will help international students to identify a number of potential careers in game design, their average starting salaries and a few things to remember when looking for a game design job.

Example Careers in Game Design

Upon graduation, international students will find a game design job as a member of a design team with a development studio. The process of creating a video game is a complex thing. Much of the work is highly specialized and requires a division of labor amongst the entire team. That being the case, game design jobs require a number of skills from across the fields of computer science, digital art and creative writing. While the position that all game designers aspire to be is the lead designer, before being given the reins over his or her own project a game designer must work in any number of other capacities while bringing games imagined by others to life. Some of these careers in game design and their national median starting salaries are:

  1. Lead designer $81,000
  2. Game programmer $55,000+
  3. Game artist $42,000+
  4. Game animator $47,000+
  5. Quality assurance $32,000+
  6. Lead quality assurance $40,000+
  7. Software engineer $70,000+
  8. Game designer $55,000+
  9. Software developer $60,000+
  10. Game writer $44,000+

Aside from the high starting salaries and diverse range of skills entailed, game design jobs also have highly rewarding work environments. First, the number of international students receiving game design degrees is quickly on the rise, meaning game design programs and development studios are increasingly home to a robust international presence. This increase in international presence leads to diverse development teams and truly rewarding work experiences with a like-minded cohort all driven by their passion for video gaming. Second, the number of game development studios is steadily rising; meaning the total number of game design jobs has more than tripled since the late 1990’s. However, there are some factors to keep in mind when pursuing careers in game design:

  • While the graduates of game design programs in the US go on to work with some of the most prominent video game designers in the world as members of development teams, most game design jobs are located throughout only a handful of locations. In fact, over 75% of all game design jobs are located in just six different states: California, Texas, Washington, New York, Massachusetts, and Illinois.
  • Careers in game design are numerous and their benefits impressive. However, international students who study game design will probably not be hired directly as game designers. Recent entrants into the industry are hired onto development teams in a number of capacities related to creating video games. After a certain amount of experience and reputation has been acquired, game designers are given more responsibilities until eventually they are given the financing and team to create a video game title of their own.

Game design jobs represent a truly rewarding opportunity for an international student who wants to work as part of a team bringing to life the next big gaming title.

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