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What Testers Make

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I'm responding to statements made in this recently closed thread.
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Original post by d000hg Also, $120/h? That's reasonable for a contracting developer but not a tester.
Depends on the tester. There are senior-level "testers" called quality assurance engineers. My eldest uncle was one of a handful of such engineers who evaluated microchips used in space vehicles until he retired. That's as much as I could understand about his work anyway. I know he worked only half the year. Granted, that level of expertise isn't necessary for most entertainment software. (As an aside, I called him a tester once, and he was, shall we say, adamantly opposed to not being called an engineer.) On the other hand, hiring Cem Kaner and James Bach as senior quality assurance consultants will probably cost more than US$120 per hour. Entertainment software professionals are all too willing to work for a pittance. Have you seen what the average attorney charges? Nevermind all the five-digit referral fees they receive.
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Original post by nsmadsen $120/hr equals $4800 for a 40 hour week. That means $19,200 per month and $230,400 per year. AS A TESTER. Most testers I know of make around $10-15 per hour. It is generally an entry level job and I know of no testers making 6 figures a year, nor do I know of ANY company willing to pay that much to their testers.
SCEA pays entry-level testers $9 hourly base. SOE pays $10 hourly base. SEK pays junior-level analysts $20-25 hourly base. The farther removed you are from games, the more you get paid. As quality assurance practices become more developed in the games industry, you'll probably see significant wage increases. Right now, anyone can walk in off the street and get an entry-level game testing job, especially through certain staffing companies that are only interested in filling their quotas instead of providing quality people. (Pun not intended.)

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Original post by Morgan Ramsay
The farther removed you are from games, the more you get paid.
I would be interested to know if this also holds for development and creative positions?

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As quality assurance practices become more developed in the games industry, you'll probably see significant wage increases.
Is this necessarily true? If one of your uncle's chips blew up, you lose a multi-million dollar spacecraft and kill a couple of highly trained astronauts. If the QA on a big database system screws up, a bank loses millions of dollars. But if the latest AAA game crashes all the time, you just blame ATI/NVidia for lousy drivers, and push a patch out after a couple of months. On a console you can't necessarily patch the game, so things have to be a little tighter, but you still find many bugs in commercial games, on every platform.

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Original post by swiftcoder
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Original post by Morgan Ramsay
The farther removed you are from games, the more you get paid.
I would be interested to know if this also holds for development and creative positions?

Actually it does. The highest paid software devs work in finance. For creative positions Hollywood pays the best.

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Original post by Morgan Ramsay
I'm responding to statements made in this recently closed thread.
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Original post by d000hg
Also, $120/h? That's reasonable for a contracting developer but not a tester.
Depends on the tester. There are senior-level "testers" called quality assurance engineers.... hiring Cem Kaner and James Bach as senior quality assurance consultants will probably cost more than US$120 per hour. Entertainment software professionals are all too willing to work for a pittance. Have you seen what the average attorney charges? Nevermind all the five-digit referral fees they receive.
So what you're saying is testers can earn $100+ an hour, but only when they're not testers? Senior QA guys are not testers. They manage testing strategies used by teams of testers and are responsible for making sure the QA procedures are useful, etc. Most studios wouldn't have anyone like that, only the big publishers probably.

Comparing a tester and a senior QA consultant is like comparing an entry level programmer and an enterprise application architect... in both cases the salary difference is 5-10X and the work is totally different.

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Testing and proving chip designs are correct is a difficult and challenging field.
You can never put a chip through every possible state it might be in (for large chips, such as microprocessors).

What kind of skills do most game testers need to have? Is it enough to demand to paid much more than minimum wage?

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Having worked as an entry level tester for SCEA in San Diego many years ago, I would say that the $9 dollar/hour starting rate (while hard to live on in the area) is sufficient compensation for the skill set the job requires: mainly just being able to survive (read: not go crazy) playing the same game 8-12 hours a day, 5-7 days a week for several months ... hopefully finding bugs ... and`then hopefully remembering how you found them.

Thats just entry level though, the senior testers and leads who get paid more have to do a lot more planning and people massaging (not really management)

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Depends on the tester. There are senior-level "testers" called quality assurance engineers...

I kind of thing you're missing the context. It's a well-known fact that game development roles, in general, pays less on average than the equivalent roles in other industries, for various reasons. However, the spammer OP in that other thread was specifically pitching the position as a game tester, and I'm sorry, there is no way that any tester will making that kind of hourly wage in the video games industry.

At least, not until $120/hr is the equivalent of what is now $12/hr.

The average salary for a 6+ year veteran technical director was in the realm of $120k. That's half of the OP's proposed compensation. 6+ year veteran QA directors made, on average $66k. Executive producers in that bracket are about $127k, and probably constitute the source of the outlying high water marks (noted to be around $200k). This was in 2007.

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Original post by swiftcoder
On a console you can't necessarily patch the game, so things have to be a little tighter, but you still find many bugs in commercial games, on every platform.
Right. I've mostly been involved with console and web QA. If you use the same example for console games that you used for PC games, the "crashing all the time" bit, a publisher could wind up with a massive multimillion-dollar recall as well as shutting down a studio or two to recoup costs. A class-action lawsuit could come about from consumers who received faulty products, also costing the involved companies millions. Quality assurance is incredibly important, especially as a risk-management tool for upper management. A business skimps on quality assurance at their peril.
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Original post by d000hg
So what you're saying is testers can earn $100+ an hour, but only when they're not testers?
Testing is also a department and a function. When you say "tester," I think of someone involved with test, which includes everyone from analysts and engineers to consultants, trainers, and strategists to supervisors, managers, and directors. Consultants in any field have higher earning capacities than even the highest-level employees.
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Senior QA guys are not testers. They manage testing strategies used by teams of testers and are responsible for making sure the QA procedures are useful, etc.
That's a fairly limited job description for a senior QA engineer. Most junior and senior QA engineers actively test their products, too. The chief differences between entry-level analysts and junior/senior-level engineers is their skillset. Analysts typically perform black box, regression, stress, and limited compatibility testing. Analysts usually aren't experienced with, or aware of, the various techniques and tools. Engineers also perform those same tests (with additional competency) plus white box and and automated testing, facilitated by tools they usually create themselves. What truly separates engineers from analysts is their technical knowledge.
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Original post by Nuget5555
Having worked as an entry level tester for SCEA in San Diego many years ago, I would say that the $9 dollar/hour starting rate (while hard to live on in the area) is sufficient compensation for the skill set the job requires
Unfortunately, that's a consequence of the staffing agency's liberal hiring policy. The studio's QA department is structured the way it is to improve accountability for the products undergoing test. That means limiting the responsibilities of walk-in analysts, and reducing their wages to a reasonable minimum, a la film production staff where a "job" entails having one responsibility. That also means plenty of red tape and a glass ceiling.

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Testers can make decent wages, I know when I took a position as a Validation Tech I was making around 26 dollars an hour which isn't too bad for just running through a massive spreadsheet of blackbox test procedures. Of course this wasn't in the game industry. Really I would say people that want to test games and get paid decently should do QA for graphic driver development, not game development. You'll still be sitting in a lab playing all day long trying to reproduce a drive bug, and filling out reports.

As the 120/hr for testing, I don't think you will see it as others have pointed out cept for perhaps in very specialized fields.

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I used to work as a games tester, the pay was around £6 an hour.

$120 an hour for entry level games testing only happens in happy pyramid scheme magical land.

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