The Average Salary of a Software Tester

Software testers play video games for a living.
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Software testers, sometimes called quality assurance testers, test video and computer games to make sure nothing needs to be fixed before they are released. This job does not usually have formal educational requirements beyond high school, but applicants should have significant experience playing video games. And while video games have long been thought of as the preserve of males, Game Developer magazine found that 13 percent of QA -- up from 5 percent in 2011.

Average Pay

    As of 2011, Game Developer magazine reports that software testers earned an average salary of $45,081 per year. However, prospective testers should know that, as of 2011, males tend to be higher-paid; female testers averaged $39,375, while males averaged $49,196, during the same year. However, some of this pay difference may be attributed to the fact that, based on the employment differences between the 2011 and 2012 surveys, over half of female testers working in 2012 were new hires.

Pay by Experience

    As of 2011, software testers with less than three years of experience earned an average salary of $37,500, according to Game Developer magazine. Those with between three and six years of experience averaged $45,081 per year, and those with over six years of experience averaged $61,029 per year. With several years of experience, some QA testers are promoted to QA lead. QA leads direct the work of other software testers, and tend to be paid more than staff testers.

Pay by Location

    The average salary for software testers varies somewhat throughout the United States in 2011. Testers in the West earned the highest average salary: $49,545 per year. Testers in the East report the second-highest average pay, averaging $47,500. However, those in other parts of the country earned less than the national average. Testers in the Midwest averaged $44,167 per year, while those in the Southeast earned the lowest, drawing an annual average of $39,643.

Benefits and Bonuses

    In addition to salary, 77 percent of software testers received extra income in 2011. This additional income came in the form of annual or project bonuses, royalties, stock options, or employer contributions to retirement plans. The average amount of additional income reported by software testers in 2011 was $12,640. In addition, 95 percent of testers reportedly received some form of benefits from their employer, the most common forms being medical and dental insurance.

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