How much do professionals in the game industry make? Well, quite a bit, actually. According to a recent edition of Game Developer magazine – summarized by Gamasutra – the average salary is $73,316 in 2006, as a 2006 Salary Survey found. The number is down just a bit from the $75,039 in 2005.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the lowest compensation goes to the Quality Assurance personnel, who averaged about $37,861 for testing games. We assume they weren't counting regular ol' game testers that generally only receive about $10/hour, because that doesn't translate to $37k/year. Next on the list were the game designers, which took in an average of $61,538 in 2006 (average increase of $5,000 per year), and then came the artists at $65,107 (almost no change from 2005). Production personnel raked in $77,131 and programmers were right near the top at an impressive $80,886.

Which game industry executive holds the top slot, you ask? Well, it's the Business and Legal people, who averaged about $95,596 last year. That's some good pay, we say. As for other details of the survey, we find that U.S. employees in the game industry get much better pay; they receive 33% more on average than European game employees. GamesIndustry had this to say about that finding:

"Europeans in the games industry are earning significantly less than their American counterparts," the report reads. "The only discipline that comes close is QA, which is separated by only seven percent in 2006. Game designers in Europe are making 25 percent less, business and legal staff are making 26 percent less, and programmers are making 33 percent less."

A total of 5,600 were polled for these results. So if you're considering a career in the video game industry, you can take comfort in the fact that one can make a pretty decent living working for game companies.

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