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8 high-paying, nontraditional degrees

College Finance » 8 High-paying, Nontraditional Degrees

Game design
Game design © Photo courtesy of Michael Stegeman

Designing for the console, computer and mobile worlds may look like fun and games, but the work (and salary) is nothing to laugh at. According to the 2012 salary survey in the March 2013 issues of Game Developer Magazine, the average salary for game designers is $75,065 per year. Programmers, game producers and audio professionals on average rake in $92,151, $84,127 and $81,543, respectively -- though individual pay can vary dramatically.

Game design degrees incorporate courses in computer science, multimedia production, project management, quality assurance testing, game engines and business. Degree programs may lean toward the artistic or technical sides of the industry, but the most successful job candidates will have both, says Andrew Greenberg, president of the Georgia Game Developers Association, a video game trade group.

"Those who can really distinguish themselves by work they've done beyond their schoolwork -- games they've made on their own or with a small team -- are the ones who succeed to a higher degree," he says.

The market also values self-starters, those with a diverse range of skills, and job candidates who make industry connections through attending conferences such as the Game Developers Conference or the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, Greenberg adds.

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