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Game Programmer: Education Requirements and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a game programmer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and skills to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

A video game programmer is a software engineer who creates the code that makes a video game run. Due to the complexity of today's video games, most programmers specialize in one area of game programming, such as audio or graphics. Typically, employers look for candidates with a bachelor's degree in information systems or a similar field. A strong background in math and science, as well as an understanding of gaming, can help make a game programmer successful.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in computer science, information systems, mathematics or related field
Other Requirements Proficiency in programming languages usually necessary
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 8% for broad field of computer programmers
Mean Salary (2013)* $98,980 annually for computer programmers working in software publishing

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Game Programmer Education Requirements

Becoming a game programmer means finding a balance between the right education and the ability to demonstrate real-world skills, such as proficiency in programming languages. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), formal education is often required by employees because with the rate that computer technologies change, a firm foundation in the basics allows programmers to keep up with industry innovation (www.bls.gov). The BLS also noted that bachelor's degrees in information systems, computer science or mathematics are commonly held by game programmers. These degrees give students the option to learn programming languages, operating systems and advanced math, among other subjects.

Video game publishers need to make sure that their job candidates are able to accomplish the tasks necessary for the job. Because of this, many prospective game programmers find it helpful to complete one or more demo game projects. A satisfactory demo shows employers a competence with C++ and advanced algebra, skills that are used daily by programmers.

Game Programmer Career Information

Many programmers begin their careers in a junior programming position. As they learn about programming, they can choose a specific area of video game programming to specialize in. Each aspect of a video game requires a very detailed set of code, so a programmer may work on audio, physics, artificial intelligence, graphics or any other single area required to make a video game function. Once programmers become experienced, they may consider pursuing a lead programmer position, which involves leadership and management duties in addition to programming.

The BLS predicted that job growth for computer programmers would be modest from 2012 to 2022 and increase at an average rate of 8%. Video game programmers who can keep up with new innovations in programming languages will continue to be in demand according to the BLS. In 2013, computer programmers working in software publishing earned an average annual salary of $98,980, per the BLS.

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