Film Editor: Career Summary, Occupational Outlook and Educational Requirements

Film editors put together the final pieces of a movie or video by assembling the images and sounds needed to complete a project. Most film editors have received a bachelor's degree in film studies or a related field. Continue reading for more details about this career field and how to get started as a film editor. Schools offering Digital Cinematography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Film editors play an integral role in the production process of films, movies and videos. Professionals in the field typically work in studios and may be alone for much of the work day manipulating images and adding sounds and special effects.

Education Bachelor's degree in film, communications or broadcasting
Training Internships, apprenticeships
Occupational Outlook* 17% growth from 2016 to 2026
Median Salary* $61,180 annually as of 2017

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Film Editors Do?

Film editors are responsible for tying together all of the camera and sound work for the final version of a cinematic product. A feature-length film can be made up of several hundred shots recorded from various cameras and camera angles; in addition, many movies and videos also use voice-overs, background noises and songs to add to the final product. Film editors largely work for directors who make the ultimate decisions on many aspects of the film making process; however, some veteran film editors are granted a large voice when determining the shape and scope of a project.

What Is The Career Outlook For Film Editors?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), there were an estimated 34,200 film and video editors employed as of 2016. From 2016 to 2026, job growth in this field was expected to be 17%, creating 5,800 new jobs. This represents a faster than average job growth increase. A vast majority of film and video editors work in either Los Angeles or New York City, the two areas that are home to most companies in the motion picture and video industries; however, more jobs are becoming available in other markets as Internet-based production companies become more prevalent in the field.

As of May 2017, the median annual salary for film and video editors was $61,180; those in the top 10% earning bracket made in excess of $163,440 per year.

What Education Is Required?

Most prospective film editors attend a film school where they learn the basics of the industry through a bachelor's degree program. Students typically begin with general film courses, then move onto a more specialized curriculum. Typical courses in film studies include:

  • History of cinema
  • Directing and acting for film and television
  • Cinematic techniques
  • Camera operation
  • Lighting
  • Cinematic sound
  • Cinematography
  • Art direction
  • Special effects

Film programs usually require students to produce their own work before graduation; these projects are also helpful in that they can be used to create a portfolio to help gain entry-level work. Many film schools also require those interested in any aspect of film production to complete an internship.

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