Do I need a college degree to become a video game tester?

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In this episode of Game Industry Career Guide Podcast, I answer a question from Sabrina M., who’s wondering whether she needs a college degree to become a video game tester?

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Two easy but powerful techniques for finding out the education requirements for any job
  • How to get hired as a Game Tester even if you don’t meet the official “requirements”
  • The best way to learn game testing and get a job without getting a college degree

If you have a question you'd like to get answered on the podcast, leave a comment below or ask me anything here.

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Hello everybody and welcome to the Game Industry Career Guide podcast, episode number 7. I’m Jason W. Bay from gameindustrycareerguide.com and this is the podcast where I answer your questions about getting a job and growing your career making video games. Today’s question comes from Sabrina M. who is wondering whether she needs a college degree to become a video game tester. Sabrina asks, “Do you need a degree to test games?”

College is expensive, especially if you don’t get the job or career that you went to school for. It’s great that Sabrina is asking this question because it shows that she is thinking about her future and she is planning ahead. No matter what kind of job you are planning to get someday, it’s so important to do some research online and figure out what education and other skills you need to develop in order to get that job.

So today I’m going to teach you two very easy but very powerful methods for finding out what the educational requirements are for any job that you might want. I’ll focus on the video game testing job because that’s what Sabrina is interested in but you can use this same techniques for any kind of job that you might be interested in.

The first technique is using LinkedIn. The way that you can use LinkedIn to find out what kind of education is required for different jobs is that you can search for that job on LinkedIn and then find people that have that job, and look to see what they did for school in order to get that job. To try this technique you just go to linkedin.com, search for video game tester to find people that have that job. Then you open their profile, scroll down the page to the education section that’s near the bottom and see what it says.

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I did this for a few friends of mine that are video game testers to see what they did for education. I found that my friend Teresa who is a video game testing lead, she went to school for a few years for nursing. My friend Bill got a Bachelor of Science degree in Administrative Management before he started his career as a game tester. My friend Keith, he has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial and Product Design before he went on to become a game tester. Now, I know this people personally so I know that Teresa, Bill and Keith all have long successful testing careers and all three of them are either lead testers or QA managers right now. And in fact I started my career as a video game tester, I got an Associate’s Degree and I was working on a four-year degree before I got involved making video games as a game tester. And then later went on to do a variety of other game jobs. After doing this investigation on LinkedIn, I think what you’ll find is that video game testers don’t seem to have a common thread as far as their education. Many of them have degrees in various fields but many of them do not.

Let’s take a look at the second technique that you can use to research the education requirements for a given job. The second technique is to look at job postings and then read about what they ask for as education under the requirement section. One way you can find game jobs is to go to gameindustrycareerguide.com, click on the game jobs tab and then type in the search, “video game QA tester.” When I did that earlier today I found several results. Let’s take a look at those results to see what they require for education.

I found one job posting from a company named CompuCom. They were asking for a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science or Game Design or an equivalent combination of technical skill and higher education. Another posting is from a company called FlexaSoft. FlexaSoft is asking for a university degree or equivalent qualification or relevant experience. A third listing that I found is from EA Sports for their Madden team. EA did not list a particular degree. They just said that you needed to have certain soft skills like good communication or organization skills and a sense of urgency.

So that’s three examples of job postings, two of them hinted that they might like you to have a degree but it wasn’t a requirement and one of them didn’t mention a degree. So, after doing this research, what’s the answer to Sabrina’s question? In the case of video game tester jobs, it may be easier to get a job if you have some college education but it’s not always a requirement. When you are looking at job postings be sure to read them carefully though, because many of them seem to require a degree but they also mention that is okay to have equivalent experience or a different degree all together.

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In short, most game testing jobs would like you to have a degree but it’s not usually a requirement. If you don’t have a college degree and you don’t know much about game testing yet is there still a chance you can get hired as a game tester? Well, there probably is if you have some basic knowledge of game testing techniques and vocabulary, and you know how to use the most common bug tracking tools that are used by video game studios.

If you would like to learn those basics to improve your chances of getting a job as a game tester, you can read my book. It’s called “Land a Job as a Video Game Tester.” It will teach you the essentials of game testing skills so that you can feel confident applying for jobs and it walks you through the entire process from learning the testing tools to writing a resume, applying for jobs and evaluating the job offers you get so you can choose the best job possible. You can get this book if you are interested on Amazon, iBooks, Kindle or anywhere else that you read books. I’ll put a link to it in the short notes.

Well, that’s it for today’s podcast. Thanks to Sabrina for the question and thank you for listening. If you liked what you heard please help me out by telling your friends about this podcast and by leaving a review on iTunes. For more information and inspiration on getting and growing your job making games, visit me at gameindustrycareerguide.com. Thanks again and I will see you next time, right here on the Game Industry Career Guide podcast.

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