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2011's game industry salary stats push us once more toward business school


With this week's annual release of Game Developer Magazine's "Game Industry Salary Survey Results," we're once again reminded that game industry professionals – on average – make kind of a lot of money. How does approximately $81,192 per year sound to you? Sounds pretty damn good to us as well, and that's the average take home for people across a variety of disciplines: business/legal, programming, production, sound/art/video, design, writing, and QA. Despite the survey having existed for 11 years now, it still doesn't include the press (though you can tell from our cushy leather chairs that we're clearly doing all right).

But who is making the biggest bucks, you ask? Unsurprisingly, the "business/legal" category brings home the most dough on average, pulling in approximately $102,160 annually. Similarly unsurprising, QA testers pick up the bottom end of the scale, earning around $47,910 on average. Salaries on both the high and low end dropped a bit compared with last year's survey, but not by much more than the 2.4 percent margin of error.

The survey's data was once again culled from respondents across the game industry in North America, the UK, and the EU, as well as a sizable chunk of indies/independent contractors (though the salary averages are pulled specifically from US-only data). Outliers – folks making dramatically more or less than the average – were removed from results before averaging "to prevent them from unnaturally skewing the averages." That sounds like another good reason not to include game journo salaries!

Per discipline average salaries (from 1,742 total usable U.S.-based responses):

  1. Business/Legal - $102,160
  2. Programmers - $92,962
  3. Producers - $85,687
  4. Audio - $83,182
  5. Artists and Animators - $75,780
  6. Designers/writers - $73,386
  7. QA testers - $47,910

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