Game designers use a mix of creativity and technical skills to create immersive and enjoyable video and computer games. Careers in this competitive industry can be highly sought after, and the positions for game designers are limited. Game apprenticeships are a great way to gain hands-on experience and lay the groundwork for a successful career.
Game design internships and apprenticeships combine classroom education with on-the-job training to ensure candidates become highly-skilled professionals. In this article, we show you the best game design apprenticeships and walk you through the training options at your disposal to gain access to these programs.
What Is a Game Design Apprenticeship?
A game design apprenticeship will allow you to work alongside design professionals to develop in-demand skills and qualifications. Ideally, this training will transition smoothly into a full-time role after the program. Importantly, apprenticeships are generally paid. Apprenticeship programs generally last from six months to two years.
You can find a tech apprenticeship for a wide range of job roles in the video game industry, including video game designer, animator, game tester, effects artist, graphic designer, and concepts artist, to mention a few.
What Does a Game Design Apprentice Do?
A game design apprentice works on exciting projects under the supervision of senior professionals. As a game design apprentice, you’ll learn from a mentor who will coach you on the skills and techniques required to bring a game to life. You’ll also work as part of a team to design and deliver real projects, likely playing a key role in the development of a game.
Apprentices also learn the interpersonal skills needed to successfully interact with colleagues and clients. As an apprentice, you are also likely to acquire communication, planning, and even entrepreneurial abilities.
Types of Game Design Apprenticeships
In the video game industry, you can become an apprentice or intern to train for many different job roles. Below, we consider some of the main job titles in the industry that are accessible through game apprenticeship opportunities.
Game animators are multimedia artists who specialize in video games. They combine art and technology to bring environments and characters in video games to life. They also create interactive animated images.
As a game animator apprentice or trainee, you’ll be working under talented animators, programmers, and designers on actual game projects. You’ll also learn about large visual databases, 2D and 3D animation, and the general principles governing a character’s body movement.
Game audio engineers work in gaming departments or as freelancers to create high-quality audio sets for games and other interactive media projects. These professionals are primarily concerned with background noises, sound effects, and voiceovers.
As an apprentice game sound designer, part of your job will be to go through commercial audio libraries to find the right sounds and effects for a given project. You’ll also learn to use a digital audio workstation (DAW) to create the desired audio effects.
Game designers are responsible for planning and executing game mechanics and overall user experience. These professionals may also be involved in developing the storyline, dialogue, and characters. During game design internships, you’ll learn how to map out a game’s layout and other elements through flow charts and mockups.
While game design apprenticeships are rare in the US, you can find relevant internships at many of the most influential companies in the industry, such as Sony, Epic Games, and Riot Games. While many internships are designed for current students, this is not always the case.
A video game artist is responsible for creating the different visual elements of the world that the game is recreating. They sketch out their designs and infuse them with life using 3D modeling and other animation techniques.
As a game artist apprentice, you’ll sketch concept designs, learn how to apply textures to various visual elements, and help with designing promotional materials such as posters and game packages.
Video game testers help assess the overall feel of a game and its user experience before launch. They play the game during different stages of the development process to find any errors or glitches and make recommendations that enhance the player experience. As a game tester apprentice, you’ll familiarize yourself with game development basics and expand your knowledge of the industry.
Game Design Apprenticeship Jobs
Sony Interactive Entertainment PlayStation offers 12-week paid summer internships for students currently enrolled in a related bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD program. Interns will often work in conjunction with designers, artists, product developers, and engineers designing systems to learn how to design a video game and succeed in the industry.
PlayStation interns receive one-on-one mentorship, work on real-world projects, get a chance to interact with the executive leadership team, and participate in a variety of team-building activities. Keep an eye on the company’s website for the most up-to-date opportunities.
Riot Games interns are treated similarly to full-time employees, so you can expect competitive pay. You may also be entitled to housing and relocation assistance, depending on where your internship is taking place.
Riot Games offers internship positions in an array of specialties, including character art, animation, motion graphics, sound design, and UX design. A video game design internship with Riot Games will help you break into the field, as you will be challenged to grow and take on new responsibilities as you progress in your education.
One of the best places to take your video game education to the next level is Epic Games, the developer of Unreal Engine. Epic Games offers an array of paid internship opportunities in areas such as animation, gameplay programming, and game design. You can look on the company website to learn more about its available positions.
Epic hires students and recent graduates as interns and these programs last between three and 12 months. Interns work alongside seasoned professionals and mentors and hone their skills using real-world projects, just like every other member of the dev team.
Activision Publishing Inc offers various 12-week internships in animation, art, game design, and more. These opportunities take place over the summer and are available to highly-motivated students pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD. After you submit your application, the team will reach out to schedule an interview if they think you would be a good fit.
Sumo Digital Academy’s apprenticeship program is designed for beginners in the game development field. All the company asks is that you have some familiarity with programming and can demonstrate your learning potential. The program lasts between 12 and 24 months and is designed to help you land entry-level game design jobs at top companies in the field.
As a member of Sumo’s game team, you will receive extensive training in C++ and Unreal Engine while working on published products. To land this game design apprenticeship, you must be legally able to work in the UK.
Game Design Apprenticeship Salary
ZipRecruiter estimates that game design interns earn $39 per hour. However, this figure can vary widely based on factors like skill level, location, and years of experience, and not all internships are paid. Apprentices in this industry earn a comparable salary.
ZipRecruiter also reports that video game designers earn an average salary of $111,488. This means that once you have a few years of experience, you will have the potential to earn an above-average wage. Video game design salaries can range between $44,000 and $170,500, so it is important to continually update your skills and keep an eye out for better opportunities if you don’t land your dream job right away.
Game Design Apprenticeship Requirements
Most game design apprenticeship programs require some knowledge of coding and a passion for creating games. You will likely need to create a resume and cover letter, and you may need to pass an aptitude or skills test. Many game apprenticeship and internship programs require you to be currently enrolled in a degree program.
Some apprenticeships may have stricter requirements, such as being proficient in a specific programming language like C++ or Java. It is a good idea to check the company’s website to read more about the requirements for a video game design program before you apply.
How to Get a Game Design Apprenticeship
The best way to find a game design apprenticeship is by visiting online job boards. However, competition may be fierce, so you need to make sure you stand out as a candidate. Here are a few options to consider to increase your chances of landing that coveted apprenticeship.
Many game companies offering apprenticeship and internship opportunities tend to look for individuals with some game design experience. One way to quickly pick up such skills is by enrolling in a bootcamp program. Bootcamps are short but intensive educational programs designed to equip students with the technical skills needed to join the workforce.
The game design courses you find at a coding bootcamp can be completed in three to eight months. This means that in a matter of months, you’ll be ready to apply for an apprenticeship. In addition, the best game design bootcamps offer robust career support, including access to a network of hiring companies and one-on-one mentorship.
The difference between an internship and an apprenticeship is subtle but important. The most significant difference is that apprenticeships have a stronger focus on on-the-job training, with the goal being to master the skills needed for a particular role. Internships, by contrast, tend to focus on general entry-level tasks. Internships tend to be shorter too.
Completing a game design internship will put you in a stronger position to apply for an apprenticeship in the game industry. Above, we’ve also covered a few internships. Consider completing one of these programs before applying for a longer and more comprehensive apprenticeship.
Vocational training refers to postsecondary education designed to prepare individuals for employment in specific occupations. The term can encompass many types of programs, from courses found in online learning platforms like edX or Coursera to programs offered by vocational and technical schools.
Although you can join courses online that will further your video game design education, you may have a harder time finding more exhaustive programs that equip you with the skills needed to join the industry. Vocational schools may have computer science or IT programs but they are unlikely to offer courses that focus solely on game development or game design.
Is a Game Design Apprenticeship Worth It?
Yes, a game design apprenticeship is worth it. While many aspiring game designers still opt for traditional university education, game apprenticeships can help you become a game developer faster. In six months to two years, you will acquire the skills and experience needed to enter the video game industry.
Most careers in video game design are well-paying and allow you to flex your creativity and technical skills in a way that few other careers can. Because this can be a competitive field, it is definitely worth it to take a look at game design internships and apprenticeships to help you get your foot in the door.
Game Design Apprenticeship FAQ
Most game design apprenticeships for people with no experience in the industry last between 15 and 24 months. Programs designed for more advanced designers take between three to six months to complete.
You can become a game designer without coding by focusing on other relevant skills, such as creative writing, user experience, or animation. While not all roles in the gaming industry require programming, gaining some experience with popular programming languages for game development can go a long way in helping you progress in your career.
Yes, game dev is hard to get into, especially if you don’t have any prior experience in the field. A good way to stand out for entry-level roles is by working on your own projects to develop a strong portfolio to show hiring managers what you are capable of.
The main aim of a game design apprenticeship is to give apprentices a chance to develop a wide array of technical skills through on-the-job training. Apprentices develop skills in game production, storytelling, level design, game interface design, 3D modeling, and shading.
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