The subject of your compensation will invariably come up during your endeavours in Finding a New Role, and during The Interview Process. Knowing your worth can be a very difficult, but absolutely critical aspect to get right.
It is incredibly rare in the games industry, unlike in other fields of work, for companies to accompany job listings with the 'salary range' for the position. Additionally, it is also uncommon for companies to be the first ones to present you with a figure. The final number that you arrive at will likely be the result of a tug-of-war between you and the company, as you negotiate between the highest you can get, and the lowest they can get away with offering you. Therefore, it is absolutely crucial to come in as prepared as possible.
Coming up with a 'salary range' for yourself can be a bit of an art, since unfortunately, due to extreme variances from something as straightforward as the cost of living in your geographical region, to something as arcane as how good you are at negotiating a salary, providing an answer on exactly how much you should ask for is simply not possible at a general level.
However, there are a couple things you can do to increase your chances of getting it right:
Most importantly, make sure you are not considering any figures that would have a negative impact on your quality of life:
The cost of lodging is the highest expense for most people. With the common wisdom that in almost any circumstance, no more than 50% of your salary should go towards rent/mortgage, you can easily extrapolate the minumum number you should ever consider accepting, in order to preserve your current lifestyle. With that said, your yearly cost of lodging should ideally be closer to 25%-40% of your future salary.
This method can also prove helpful if you are looking to emigrate to a new region where you are unfamiliar with costs of living. If you perform some window-shopping online and look for the type of place to live where you would be able to conserve, or slightly improve your quality-of-life, you will be able to deduce a more accurate salary band for yourself.
Do your research to try and get a sense of what others are valued at in the market you are looking to enter:
<aside> ⚠️ Regardless of your gender identity, an absolutely essential piece to read on the subject of salary is Minute-Zero In The Gender Pay Gap.
By the end of this process, you should end up with a 'salary range' composed of:
Remember to keep these to yourself at all times during the interview process. If you don't, what will likely happen if you are offered a position, is that a company will quite literally select the lower-midpoint in your range and offer you that. This allows them to not look as if they 'short-changing' you in offering you the bare minimum, but also not offering you as much as they probably could. Instead of the midpoint between highest and lowest, in reality, what you should keep in your mind as your target is rather something between your "very happy with" figure, and your "Dream Big" figure.
As your level of confidence and reputation grows, so will your ability to increase the amount of time you can delay discussing salary, to your benefit.
<aside> ⚠️ It would be a futile exercise to even attempt to paraphrase Patrick McKenzie's brilliant piece on salary negotiation, so you should read that before continuing any further.
With that said, probably the most important excerpt to hold onto would be the following line, which you can employ when pressured to release a desired figure to a potential employer: "I’m more concerned at the moment with talking to you about discovering whether we’re a mutual fit. If we’re a great fit, then I can be flexible on the numbers with you and you can be flexible on the numbers with me."
There can understandably be a certain level of apprehension in having any show of resistance on your part backfire, with recruiters or employers unhappy to not have this information from you upfront. However, the above is generally a very hard-to-argue-against position that manages to convey your passion for finding a great fit, first and foremost.