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RSL

How much does a game programmer earn???

31 posts in this topic

I just wanted to ask you people, how much does a game programmer exactly earn??? I mean, like just your average game programmer. Like how much do they get paid every: Hour Day Week Month Year And if they can work overtime for money, if they get paid a lot in relation to other jobs, and whether it's really enough to support yourself. I mean, I like to program games, but I won't choose it as a career, unless I can make some good money off of it. And, if game programming doesn't make you so much, then what other areas (college and university majors) of computer science can make you a lot of money??? Thanks, -RSL
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Contractors tend to be paid hourly, otherwise usually monthly. Contracting usually pays more as well, though the difference varies.

Off the bat, a university graduate can probably expect to be paid £25,000 - £30,000 as a junior programmer. Apparently game programmers get paid less than other programmers. For example, the average wage for a senior programmer in the UK is £42,748, but for a senior games programmer it is £33,333.

Jobs in Consulting, DBA and Project Management are very high paying (£45,000 - £50,000).

Take a look at the follow website, it has average salaries of pretty much every IT job there is:

http://www.itjobswatch.co.uk
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They generally earn less than their non-game programming brethren. 80-95% of the equivalent title on normal salary surveys [salary.com] should give you a fair idea. Actual numbers are hard due to salary (and cost of living) disparity by location. And of course that is only in general, situations will vary.

As for the second question, I seem a little confused. What other areas of computer science? Take computer science. Go to the best school you can get into. You can focus on particulars after that is sorted out (usually in your spare time)

(No, not what you can afford... schooling loans are plentiful and what you spend will directly effect your lifetime income potential)
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When I left the games industry a year ago my annual salary was $108,000 with a 20% annual bonus target.

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Blizzard WoW programmers make about 120-140k US / year, plus bonuses and have to work 60+ hours a week for it. Not a bad gig. According to employees I know, only one of the C++ programmers is married (Read: family).
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I work in film as a research engineer. Before film I worked in eng research and simmulation in Australia. My starting salary was 70k a year in security research, also Australia. I'm degree qualified, not masters. In Australia I earnt circa 130 k a year (around 90k - 100k US). I earn roughly the same now with better benifits.

If you are looking for dollarpounds comming out your ears I would suggest you take up stock broking, politics (if you have 0 scruples) or economic / market research or failing that if you hate yourself become an actuary. Not games.

But at least you don't have to die before your art is worth anything :p.
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Wow I'd like to know where some of you guys are working lol.

my first game programming job I was making around 22k
second job was a bit bigger company and I was making 30k
now I'm working for a very large company and making 55k
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in the UK, you'll be lucky to make more than £2000 / month (£1600 after tax) as a junior programmer. But with pay reviews, it goes up quite quickly.

Programmers with a few years experience get around £2200 - £2800 after tax. That can go up to the £3.5K if you are lead and senior.
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I've been contracting for the last ten years earning anything between 25 and 55 GBP per hour. I don't get paid holidays or sick days but I have free time to work on other projects - swings and roundabouts. For example, in 2006 I probably earned around 100k with additional projects.

Unfortunately some companies pay less because they think it's a privilege to work in the gaming industry, but the right company will pay good money for people with good skills - instead of pigeon holing you as junior/senior whatever...

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Quote:
Original post by Dancin_Fool
Wow I'd like to know where some of you guys are working lol.

my first game programming job I was making around 22k
second job was a bit bigger company and I was making 30k
now I'm working for a very large company and making 55k


Don't forget that some people are quoting in pounds rather then dollars ;).
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I`d like to ask somebody from UK - how much does one receive (after taxes) at his bank account each month with a salary of 35k ? About 2400 GBP ?
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Quote:
Blizzard WoW programmers make about 120-140k


All second hand info... Take it with a grain of salt - ex employees don't typically have glowing things to say about their employers. It may also have changed in the last year or so.

I am a bit surprised if that is common. I know a pair of ex Blizzard guys who left because they had higher offers elsewhere. Granted, they weren't on WoW, but they were paid well industry average at the time. Their feeling was that Blizzard felt like people should take a pay cut for the priviledge of working there.
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Quote:
Original post by VladR
I`d like to ask somebody from UK - how much does one receive (after taxes) at his bank account each month with a salary of 35k ? About 2400 GBP ?


Possibly less but that is about right.
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I'm starting on £22,000 in the summer, fingers crossed.

Generally, you get a fixed wage, so overtime isn't taken into consideration. I hear that working in IT for investment bankers and other large financial organisations pays very well.
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Quote:
Original post by Dancin_Fool
Wow I'd like to know where some of you guys are working lol.

my first game programming job I was making around 22k
second job was a bit bigger company and I was making 30k
now I'm working for a very large company and making 55k


So, when I started at EA in 1999 I was making $70k, and when I left in 2003 I was making $92k. Took a job at Sony at $100k and left in 2005 at $108k. Now I work for a semiconductor company at $115k, and I'm expecting at least a 4% raise. Also FWIW, I don't have a college degree (although I do have some college, and many years of experience).

As for the comments about the programmers at Blizzard - and I do know at least three people that work or have worked on World of Warcraft as we worked together at EA - I can imagine that many (but not all, certainly) of the senior programming staff make about the amount that was quoted. They also live in a more expensive market, and these people would make around 15% to 20% more than what they would make in Austin. Also, every large team has junior/mid-range staff that I can guarantee you do not make $100k.

I don't buy that most of them (senior staff) do not have families. That would be extremely abnormal.


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Quote:
Original post by yaustar
Quote:
Original post by VladR
I`d like to ask somebody from UK - how much does one receive (after taxes) at his bank account each month with a salary of 35k ? About 2400 GBP ?


Possibly less but that is about right.


My salary is approx 30K and I tend to get about 1600 each month, after tax.
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Quote:
Original post by SunTzuMy salary is approx 30K and I tend to get about 1600 each month, after tax.


Does the rate of tax go up that much when you earn more. I am currently on a lot less then 30k and get 1200 every month.
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Original post by SunTzuMy salary is approx 30K and I tend to get about 1600 each month, after tax.
I don`t really know, but I don`t remember taxes going up in last 2 yrs ? I mean, from 25k, you get ~1450 after all taxes, but I can`t see how you would get only ~150 from additional ~400 each month. That would be extremely low.
I hope, someone here can post some actual experience (I`ve got one interview within 2 weeks in UK, so I`d like to know more).
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UK income tax depends on your circumstances as well (married, repaying student loans, etc). Also don't forget to factor in National Insurance (for the NHS, state pension, etc).

Here's a UK PAYE calculator: http://www.listentotaxman.com/

Of the UK salaries being mentioned here, it does depend on where you are in the country. In the South East, those are probably about right, elsewhere I'd say they're a little on the high side (or maybe I'm being underpaid...).

Also there are a few companies who've lost lots of staff to rivals recently who're desperate for experienced people, and so are offering well above what most others are (though you have to wonder why said companies lost experienced staff in the first place).
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thanks for the tax calculator - it seems you must have a salary of 33k to get at least 2k each month
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Quote:
Quote:
Original post by VladR
I`d like to ask somebody from UK - how much does one receive (after taxes) at his bank account each month with a salary of 35k ? About 2400 GBP ?



Possibly less but that is about right.


I recognize that username yaustar :P
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Between 20% to 25% (if you include pension and other hidden taxes) of your salary converts into tax. That's something to look out. You get assigned a tax code, and your contributions are calculated and deducted automatically. When they say £25K, you will get about £1.5k-£1.6k each month. But that's not counting hypothetical bonuses, which are 'tax-free'.

If you consider getting a car, paying your university debts, renting a place, there isn't that much left at the end of the day. But your salary gets reviewed every 6 months / year, at the end of the probation period, you should get a raise, so after a couple of years, you can get quite comfy.
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