Pros and Cons of Being a Flash Game Programmer
You can make a living as a Flash game programmer and spend your days creating and coding games to your heart's content. Keep reading to discover more of the pros and cons of becoming a Flash game programmer.
|Pros of a Career as a Flash Game Programmer|
|High average salary of $83,000*|
|Telecommuting is possible*|
|Work experience can sometimes substitute for a formal degree*|
|Available certifications can increase job prospects*|
|Cons of a Career as a Flash Game Programmer|
|High degree of patience and accuracy is necessary when coding**|
|Need to incorporate ideas and criticism from many people into work*|
|Eyestrain, back discomfort and hand and wrist problems possible*|
|National job growth may be limited by outsourcing in the 2012-2022 decade*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*NET OnLine.
Essential Career Info
As a Flash game programmer, you'll normally work in an office setting, though it's possible that you could telecommute. Depending on where you work, you might implement game ideas developed by others by writing up the computer code to bring them to life, or you might come up with your own game ideas as well. With enough experience, you could be promoted to a position such as lead programmer, which could have supervisory or managerial duties. You could also gain enough expertise to find work as an independent contractor or consultant.
While the main part of your job description deals with creating Flash games, you'll need to spend time debugging them, or running them over and over again to check your code for mistakes. You'll likely collaborate with other teams who will review your work and provide input on possible changes. You'll typicallybe responsible for cataloging and saving your Flash work in an organized manner so that it can be accessed by other employees.
Salary Info & Career Outlook
According to statistics from May 2014 released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer programmers earned an average wage of roughly $83,000. Salaries in the top 5 highest paying industries for computer programmers ranged from about $96,000 to $109,000 per year.
According to the BLS, the employment of programmers in general will grow at an average rate of 8% for the 2012-2022 decade. This growth may be tempered by an increase in the outsourcing of programming jobs to other countries. However, a rise in the need for new mobile technology should keep employment opportunities in the U.S. growing, especially for programmers with experience in niche areas.
What Are the Requirements?
A bachelor's degree is required for most jobs as a computer programmer, but since the most important factor in this field is relevant skills and experience, an associate's degree may be sufficient in some cases. Some programmers may hold a degree in a computer science field, but others may take programming classes to supplement a degree in business or another field. In general, all computer programmers should have the following skills:
- Ability to solve problems independently
- Analytical and creative abilities
- Ability to work with abstract concepts
- Concentrate on multiple tasks at once
Job Postings from Real Employers
Many employers require programmers to possess a variety of skills beyond Flash coding. You may be required to possess require experience in Photoshop and other specific programming languages. Below is a sample of job postings from March 2012:
- A Tennessee creative jobs placement firm looked for multiple experienced Flash designers to create interactive online materials. The posting stated that candidates should have at least 2 years of experience working with Flash and previous experience with ActionScript was preferred. This was a contractor position and pay was listed at $20-$25 per hour.
- A computer software company based in San Francisco sought an online game artist to create the user interface for a casino game. Required technical competencies included Illustrator, Photoshop and After Effects. A bachelor's degree was ideal and 3 years of experience with game user-interface design was a must.
- An IT services company posted for a C developer to work with a client in North Carolina. Work would include building fames and mobile applications that can be run on the InTouch platform. Candidates should have 2-5 years of experience with C and Objective C programming, and experience with iOS or Android application development is a plus.
- A California educational materials firm sought a temporary Flash developer to create interactive games for a variety of platforms, including interactive whiteboards. Applicants needed to be very familiar with the Adobe Creative Suite and be able to use a variety of Flash animation techniques.
How Can I Stand Out?
You'll have the best luck getting a job as a computer programmer if you have at least a bachelor's degree and know a variety of programming languages. Relevant programming skills and experience are two very important factors for career success, so students should seek internships where they can practice the skills they'll need to learn to obtain a job once they graduate. To continue to ensure job stability as your career in game development progresses, consider becoming an expert in a specific type of game or Flash programming. This can make you more marketable as an independent consultant. You should continue to take any continuing education classes that will help keep you on top of the growing technology in your field.
As a Flash game programmer, you have the chance to obtain a variety of certifications that can help your career in the long run. Certifications may be available through software companies, product vendors or professional societies. For example, Adobe offers multiple levels of certification for its product users. You could become broadly certified with a title such as Adobe Certified Expert or Associate, or you could just take a certification exam for a specific Adobe product, such as Flash CS5 or Flash for mobile applications developers.
Alternate Career Options
It's possible that becoming a Flash game developer doesn't sound exactly like what you want to do. If you enjoy interacting with customers and want to work with a wider variety of computer programs, you could become a computer support specialist. You'll help customers and other employees solve their computer issues, sometimes by troubleshooting over the phone. You may need a bachelor's degree for this career and you can expect to see employment growth of 18% from 2010 to 2020. Computer support specialists made around $52,000 per year in May 2011, according to the BLS.
If you're more into computer program design than writing code, you could also consider a career as a software developer. Rather than programming games line by line, you would develop new platforms and programs to allow users to complete particular tasks using a variety of technology products. In 2011, application developers made around $92,000 per year, and systems software developers made around a $100,000 per year. According to the BLS, employment of all software developers would grow at a rate of 30% from 2010 to 2020.