December 19, 2012
Cool-Careers

Cool Careers: Video Game Designer and Precision Machinist

“So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” All of us have either heard these words from a parent, friend or spouse, or we have pondered the question internally. No matter your age or stage of life, this is a subject that requires deliberate thought if you want to find work that not only pays the bills but also provides personal satisfaction.

Finding Personal Satisfaction in Work

Take me for instance. At age 56 I decided that I wanted a job that would make a difference in the community. After a short stint at a local non-profit, I am now developing college programs that will train workers for good jobs and help companies solve their labor shortage. For me, that’s a passion.

Game Designer vs. Precision Machinist

I have heard that job seekers are looking for “cool” careers and that Video Game Designer is one of the coolest. Many would say that careers in Precision Machining are not trendy or popular right now. So here are characteristics of two careers. See if you can figure out which is which:

Career #1:

  • Daily Tasks: Brainstorming, Designing, Art, Coding and Programming, Project Management, Testing/QA, Create a Finished Product
  • Skills Needed: Creativity, Technical Knowledge, Enthusiasm, Computers, Artistic Ability, Teamwork, Communication, Organization, Analytical Mind, Mathematics
  • Required Education: 4-year college degree
  • How to Succeed: Continuous Knowledge Enhancement, Long Hours, Ability to Work Under High Pressure
  • Dress Code: Be Creative
  • Median Annual Salary: $43,500 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 27, 2012)
  • Number of Jobs in Colorado: 371 (Entertainment Software Association)

Career #2:

  • Daily Tasks: Brainstorming, Designing, Mechanical, Coding and Programming, Project Management, Testing/QA, Create a Finished Product
  • Skills Needed: Creativity, Technical Knowledge, Enthusiasm, Computers, Mechanical Ability, Teamwork, Communication, Organization, Analytical Mind, Mathematics
  • Required Education: Skills Certificate or 2-year college degree
  • How to Succeed: Continuous Knowledge Enhancement
  • Dress Code: Be Creative
  • Median Annual Salary: $40,560 (Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, Does Not Include Overtime)
  • Number of Jobs in Colorado: 4,580 (Colorado Department of Labor and Employment)

You probably guessed that Career #1 is the Video Game Designer. But many of the job characteristics, skills, daily tasks and salary of the Precision Machinist are the same. The biggest difference might be the artistic versus mechanical skills. If you want to be a Video Game Designer, plan on living in California, Texas or Massachusetts because that is where the jobs are. Of course, you don’t need a 4-year degree and the associated college loan debt to be a Precision Machinist, and there are plenty of jobs right here in Colorado.

Colorado Machine Shops

I’ll admit that testing video games is cool. But Colorado machine shops make some pretty interesting stuff, too:

  • Helicopter parts
  • Shocks for BMX bicycles
  • Spinal surgery devices
  • Satellite components
  • Robots
  • Space vehicle propulsion systems

Front Range Community College offers an Associate in Science degree in Computer Science, the first step in becoming a Video Game Designer. A non-credit training program in Precision Machining Technology starts February 2013.

Have you given serious thought to what you want to be when you grow up? What kinds of careers are you considering? What is most important for your future satisfaction?

About the author:

George Newman works on creating programs in manufacturing for Front Range Community College. He has a B.S. in chemical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and 30 years of experience in sales, marketing, and operations of manufacturing businesses. George is a Civil War buff and he and his wife enjoy hiking, biking, and gardening.

Comments are closed.

Switch to our mobile site