How to Become a Game Tester



Although there are other paths you can take, a very effective route for becoming a game tester is to follow these general steps:


1. Determine if game testing as a career is suited to your interests and qualities

2. Pursue a degree related to game design and development

3. Find an entry-level job as a game tester (after, during, or before you’re a student)

4. Progress into roles of greater responsibility & pay as you gain experience


If you’re thinking about trying your hand at video game testing, then keep reading to find out more about what testers do, how much money they typically earn, and what you can do to become one! 



Do I Need a Degree to Become a Video Game Tester?

Generally, you don’t need a university degree to be hired as a game tester, as this is considered an entry-level role in the gaming industry. Some employers however, may require it, as they may prefer to hire testers with a deeper understanding of programming and game development.


Even if it’s not listed as a formal requirement for getting a specific job, earning a degree related to game development can do a lot for your career: it can help you stand out from a sea of applicants, it can help you qualify for better pay, and most importantly, it can open doors to more prominent positions in the gaming industry, such as Game Designer, Developer, Audio Programmer, Game Animator/Artist, or Producer.


If career advancement in the gaming industry is something you’re interested in, earning a degree in one of the following areas can greatly improve your chances of doing so:


• Game Design

• Game Development

• Software Design/Engineering/Testing

• Computer Science/Programming 

• Graphic Design


An education in any of these areas will give you a much better and deeper understanding of how programs and coding come together to make games function and behave as they do, and some may also involve theoretical and artistic concepts like colour composition, image balance, texture, or user behaviour.





What is a Video Game Tester?

Video game testers are game development quality control personnel who use close attention to detail and specialized bug-tracking software to test games during various stages of development to find flaws in programming, such as program glitches, broken applications, slow-downs, or non-functioning visual effects.



What Do Game Testers Do?

Contrary to what many believe, video game testers don’t actually play video games, they try to ‘break’ video games. When they move through a video game, they go through all the levels, all the menus, and use all of the different characters and options with the goal of uncovering, tracking and communicating flaws in the programming.


One of their main responsibilities is to use a game in as many ways as they can conceive, and perform actions that few users will ever make. Although this can be quite time consuming and monotonous, it’s essential to creating a technically flawless game.


Upon discovering and tracking flaws, they liaise with game designers and programmers to ensure that all of the glitches and bugs have been removed and re-tested prior to finalizing game development and ultimately publishing the game.



What Are Their Job Duties?

Although the specific duties a video game tester performs can vary from job to job, they are typically responsible for some or all of the following duties:


• Playing a video game that’s in development and looking for bugs and other defects, such as lag

• Crosschecking a game with detailed plans that tell them how the game is supposed to function

• Performing actions and visiting locations within a game environment that developers had not anticipated

• Playing using every player and situational combination, and taking every possible path within a game environment

• Figuring out how to reproduce bugs predictably, so they can be tracked and fixed

• Typing up a bug report, using the company’s bug-tracking software

• Submitting the bug report to the game development team so they can try to fix it

• Following up with programmers and developers about bug reports and related issues

• Attending meetings with the development team or the other testers in the group



What are the Working Conditions Like for Game Testers?

The working conditions for video game testers can vary widely depending on where they work. Regardless of variances, it often involves sitting down and looking at a screen for many hours a day. Sometimes testers can be asked to test for many hours on end, such as when approaching a tight deadline.


The work can be quite repetitive, monotonous and tedious, although it can also be quite fun, relaxing and enjoyable. It also involves working independently, but as part of a team of other testers, designers, programmers, marketers, and other game development professionals. 


Many testers work part time or on a contract basis. However, full-time employment of video game testers is not uncommon, particularly for those with experience in the field.



Do They From Home?

While some game testers will work in-house for major companies, work from home is can be possible. Despite not having a boss present at all times, testers that work from home still have their work tracked, and are expected to meet specific deadlines.


Game testers that work from home are often expected to provide their own equipment, such as consoles, computers, controllers, and other products in order to complete their work.





Is Becoming a Video Game Tester Right for You?

Determining if a career field suits your personality as well as your professional ambitions is crucial if you plan on staying in that field for more than a few months. Take a look at the ideal traits and interests of a game tester below; if they describe you, then it’s likely that you’re well-suited for this field:


• You have a knack for visual details

• You have a strong work ethic (this work isn’t as easy as it sounds) 

• You can tolerate highly-detailed, very repetitive and often monotonous work

• You can, and are willing to stare at a screen for long periods of time

• You’re interested in a career that offers the potential to work from home

• You can work effectively as part of a team, and can take direction from a supervisor

• You’re willing to put in the extra hours during crunch time to meet deadlines

• You’re interested in being introduced to new games months or even years before they come to market



How Much Does a Video Game Tester Make?

According to the Gamasutra Salary Survey of 2014 the average salary for game testers was $54,833 per year in 2013, making it the lowest-paying career in the gaming industry. The survey also found that testers with over 3 years of experience average $48,426 a year; those with 6 years or more earned an average of $62,885 a year.


Please Note: Although this is the lowest paying career in the gaming industry, it is also generally considered an entry-level career.



Factors That Can Affect Salary Level

Not every game testing job pays the same; there are many factors that influence how much you could earn as a video game tester, including:


• Your level of education

• Your level of experience 

• The region in which you work

• The size of your employer and their budget

• The amount of responsibility inherent in your specific position


Please Note: One of the most influential factors affecting the salary of game testers is how the position is viewed by the employer; if they consider game testers a valuable part of the game development process and team, they will often be paid accordingly, if they are seen as 'disposable' and temporary pieces, then they are usually paid less.



Who Employs Them?

Video game testers are typically employed by video game development studios. These studios might be owned by major game publishers like Electronic Arts (EA), Nintendo, or Sony, they might be owned by smaller or independent game publishers.



Game Tester Jobs

Our job board below has a listing of "game tester" postings in your area of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia, when available:




What Career Advancement Options Are There?

Working as a game tester is often a jumping-off point for higher-level careers in the gaming industry. If you display competence, aptitude, initiative and self-motivation you could potentially come across the following types of career advancement opportunities:


• Getting a raise and an increase in responsibility

• Becoming the Quality Assurance (QA) or testing team lead

• Becoming a game designer, programmer, animator or other game development professional 

• Becoming a producer, or an independent game developer 


Success Tip: Completing a degree relevant to game design and development can help with career advancement prospects in the gaming industry.



What are Careers Similar to This One?

Listed below are careers that may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities as “game tester”:


Applications Analyst

• Art Director

• Computer Programmer

• Graphic Designer

• Quality Control Specialist

• Software Testing Engineer

• User Interface Designer 

• Video Game Audio Programmer

• Video Game Developer



What Scholarships Are There for Becoming a Game Tester? 

The “Relevant Majors” section below lists fields of study that are applicable to becoming a game tester. You can search for relevant scholarships by finding those majors on our "Any Field of Study Scholarships” page. All of the scholarships on those pages will be relevant for this profession.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you qualify for, even if it's just because you meet 1 of the criteria, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Sources for This Guide

The following resources were used to gather information for this career path guide:


• Careers: “How To Become A Video Game Tester (FAQ).” Jason W. Bay (n.d.). Retrieved May 9, 2017.

• Career Centre: “How to Become a Video Game Tester.” (n.d.). Retrieved May 9, 2017.

• Build Your Career - Get the Job: “How to Become a Video Game Tester.” Elizabeth Peterson (April 2, 2013). Retrieved May 9, 2017.

• Salary Survey: “Gamasutra Salary Survey 2014.” (n.d.). Retrieved May 9, 2017.



Relevant Majors

We have career guides for over 60 university majors in our database. Below we've outlined those that are most relevant to becoming a game tester. Click on the links to see what else you can do with these majors!


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