Top Game Design
Careers of 2021

Game design is a very popular arena, and the best game design careers can be very lucrative. However, a game design education does not necessarily lead to a job at a big gaming company. The technologies and skills you’ll have as a game designer can open the door to any number of related careers.

This article covers the best careers in video game design. We’ve gathered the top 10 video game career paths of 2021 to help you easily see what’s available. This article also details game design career salaries and the education you’ll need to pursue a career in this field.

What Is Game Design?

Game design is a multifaceted field that merges creativity with impeccable technical skills. A game designer is also known as a game developer. Game designers bring games to life, acting as concept artists and computer programmers at the same time.

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Game designers use a set of professional tools and technologies to conceptualize and create games. They use different types of programming languages, software, and hardware. Professionals in the game design community know how to use C#, C++, Java, SQL, Python, HTML5, or all of the above.

Where Do Game Design Professionals Work?

Game design professionals work mainly in big tech and gaming companies. The most popular gaming brands include Ubisoft, Blizzard, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. Some of the most popular companies in the video game industry are located in the United States.

The United States isn’t the only country in the game, so to speak. Huge gaming company headquarters are located across the globe. Popular locations include Japan, the United Kingdom, China, and France.

Game designers can also work on a freelance basis. To be a freelance game designer, you need to have a strong network of peers and colleagues. You can also meet potential clients at networking events or through online platforms such as LinkedIn.

Highest-Paying Game Design Careers at a Glance

If you decide to become a video game designer, you’ll have many options open to you. To give you an idea of what’s out there, we’ve gathered together a list of the highest-paying roles and positions.

The information in the table below was sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and PayScale. Job growth percentages refer to the projected change in the number of jobs between 2019 and 2029.

Job Title Education Requirement Projected Job Growth Median Pay
Software Developer Bachelor’s Degree 22%* $105,310
Computer Systems Analyst Bachelor’s Degree 7% $93,730
Web Developer Bachelor’s Degree 8% $77,200
Mobile Application Developer Bachelor’s Degree 22%* $72,975
Video Game Designer Bachelor’s Degree 22%* $66,152
Video Game Developer Bachelor’s Degree 22%* $64,601
Level Designer Bachelor’s Degree 22%* $58,350
Game Artist Bachelor’s Degree 4% $57,394
Graphic Designer Bachelor’s Degree -4%** $53,380
Junior Graphic Designer Bachelor’s Degree -4%** $41,292

*Job growth statistics are based on BLS data for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers.
**Job growth statistics are based on BLS data for graphic designers.

Why You Should Pursue a Career in Game Design

Game design is a rapidly expanding field within software development. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, software development jobs will increase by 22 percent by 2029. Considering how fast the industry is growing, now is the perfect time to pursue a career in game design.

Video games are not just for recreation. They’re also used in education and healthcare. Anyone can pick up a phone or a laptop and lose themselves in hours of gameplay. The prominence of gaming in society is good news for game designers and developers.

The Best Game Design
Careers in 2021

Game design and development is a very broad field. We’ve gathered some information about jobs and careers to give you an idea of what you can do once you’ve got your degree.

Computer network architects are IT professionals that oversee a company’s cloud computing strategy. In some cases, it could include cloud application design, cloud adoption plans, and cloud monitoring and management.

These architects oversee the deployment of applications in cloud environments. Examples of cloud environments include private cloud, public cloud, and hybrid cloud environments. In other cases, these experts work as consultants and follow the latest trends to be able to handle issues.

Companies hire cloud and network architects when they plan to use the cloud for their business. These experts may also be needed in legal areas of the field. In this role, they negotiate contracts as well as work with the procurement and legal department.

Computer system analysts assess and test computer systems for clients and companies. Duties can include creating information technology systems, troubleshooting any technical issues, and making recommendations to upgrade existing systems.

Computer system engineers often have backgrounds in computer science, software engineering, or even mathematics. If you have a background in game development, the tech knowledge you already have can help you thrive in computer systems analysis.

Web developers create functional websites for clients or companies. A web developer needs to be creative, have good communication skills, and have a solid background in computer science.

Web developers typically work as freelancers. They can also work for big companies and businesses to create and maintain their websites. Freelance developers meet with clients to assess expectations and costs. Web developers then go on to develop a website and present the final product to their clients.

With a background in game design, you can excel as a web developer. Web developers are also proficient in programming. Most web developers know how to use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Mobile application developers typically have a background in computer science and software engineering. If you’re going to succeed in creating mobile apps, you’ll need expertise in technologies like Android and iOS.

Mobile application developers are expected to be able to create apps for all sorts of purposes, including gaming. If you have a background in game design, you can specialize in mobile gaming development. Doing so will allow you to make a career out of it. Mobile application developers generally freelance.

You can also apply to be a part of the maintenance and development team for an app that you love. Mobile application development is a very technical profession. It might be worth expanding your pool of technical skills through online courses or one of the best coding bootcamps.

A video game designer is essentially the mastermind behind a video game concept. Game designers come up with a concept idea and a game’s basic skeleton. Designers typically have skills in digital drawing, storytelling, writing, and communication.

Video game designers also have experience in the field of computer science. Video game designers need to be able to communicate their ideas clearly to technical development teams. They often work as a part of big gaming companies. Video game design is a team effort and requires coordinating with others on your team.

Video game developers, also known as video game programmers, are the technical counterparts of video game designers. Developers need to be fully tech-savvy and on top of coding languages associated with game development. Video game programmers should know how to use C++, C#, JavaScript, and Python.

Video game developers typically have at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science with a gaming concentration. They can work for big gaming corporations like Ubisoft and Nintendo.

You can also create your own computer games and earn money as a freelancer. Freelance video game developers need to build a solid portfolio and can work on individual projects at their own pace.

Level design involves dealing with the different layers and parts of a game. Level designers make sure that a game’s environment, gameplay, and technical functionality work well together. A level designer also develops gameplay. This can involve things like overseeing missions, tasks, and sculpting the throughline of a game.

To become a level designer, you need a solid background in video game design and development. Level designers are proficient in multiple tools and technologies used in game development.

A game artist’s responsibilities revolve around creating designs and artwork that will enhance the visual landscape of a game. Game artists are skilled in digital drawing. They use tools that a graphic designer would use, such as Photoshop, Unity, game design studios, and more.

Game artists must also be proficient in using programming languages such as C++ and JavaScript. If you have a background in game design and a creative edge, you should consider becoming a game artist or special effects artist.

Graphic designers create visual content for clients, brands, and companies. It’s a fun and creative career and a background in game design can allow you to do well in the field of graphic design.

Graphic designers typically freelance, but there are plenty of graphic design agencies throughout the United States. On top of general computer science skills, a graphic designer needs to know how to draw and have digital marketing expertise.

If you have no experience in game design or graphic design, you should consider becoming a junior graphic designer. Junior graphic designers work in tandem with established designers, game artists, and game designers.

As a junior graphic designer, you’ll be under constant supervision and guidance from a senior designer. This is a great entry-level position if you’re just starting out.

Game Design Salaries by Location

Game design salaries can vary depending on location. There are a lot of opportunities for game designers across the globe. In the United States, game design salaries can vary depending on which state you’re in.

According to PayScale, game design salaries in Los Angeles average about $74,600. In Seattle, game design salaries average about $82,328. Salaries can be affected by the number of opportunities available in a particular place.

North Carolina, for instance, does not have very many opportunities for game designers. The average salary for a game designer in Raleigh, North Carolina is around $35,000, though this is admittedly a small sample size. But be that as it may, the big tech hubs out west clearly have a lot more openings for game designers.

What Education Does a Career in Game Design Require?

What Education Does a Career in Game Design Require?

Game designers typically have a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. There are also a lot of in-person and online game design bachelor’s programs.

If you’re hesitant about enrolling in a traditional university program, you can also enter the game design field after completing a coding bootcamp. Many coding bootcamps offer short programs that last anywhere between six and 24 months. Coding bootcamps pose a cheaper alternative to university degrees.

Finally, it’s possible to get into game design by teaching yourself. There is a massive amount of resources and materials available online. Online learning platforms like edX and Coursera offer myriad game design courses that you can complete for free. Platforms like YouTube also offer invaluable material that can help you learn for free in your spare time.

Can I Study Game Design Online?

Yes. Whether you opt to pursue a degree, a coding bootcamp, or a short video-based course, you can study online. In light of the pandemic, many schools and bootcamps have shifted to remote learning. Now is the perfect time to study online.

The only things you’ll miss out on when studying online are the lab spaces and in-person networking events. However, studying at one of the best online game design schools is significantly cheaper than studying in person on a college campus.

Is a Game Design Job Good for Me?

Yes. A background in game design can lead to a multitude of careers in software engineering or graphic design. Let your creativity roam free in the world of game design.

According to Statista, the game design industry in the United States is worth more than $60 billion. There are many video game companies based throughout the country. With the gaming industry booming, 2021 is the perfect year to pursue a game design career.

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