How Can I Become a Film and Video Editor?

Research what it takes to become a film and video editor. Learn about the educational requirements, useful skills, employment outlook and salary information to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Digital Cinematography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is A Film and Video Editor?

Film and video editors are responsible for organizing and enhancing film footage. The footage may be used in a news broadcast, or it may be used in a movie, television show or music video. They may reorganize scenes and change the order they are presented in or they may lighten or darken an image or manipulate it in other ways. When they're working on a film or television show they will work with the director and producer to ensure that their work fits with the intended look and feel for the production. They need a bachelor's degree, and need to be trained to use computer editing software.

Education Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Film, film production
Key Skills Detail-oriented, imaginative & creative, visualize finished product prior to completion, organization, ability to meet deadlines, technologically savvy
Job Growth (2014-2024) 18%*
Median Salary (2015) $61,750*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Duties for Film and Video Editors?

Film editors may work on feature films, as well as television shows, documentaries and corporate videos. After a film is shot, these professionals are responsible for compiling footage and piecing it together in a cohesive and artistic manner. Film editors take into account a director's vision, the pacing of a scene and the desired mood when creating a finished product.

The majority of a film editor's work is usually done alone on the computer. Long, isolated hours can be a struggle for many in the film editing profession, but seeing the finished product often makes the difficult working conditions worth it. In some cases, film editors work with assistant editors or musical directors when adding music or sound effects to certain scenes.

What Type of Education Do I Need?

Many of these professionals learn the necessary skills through training programs at film schools or universities. You might pursue a bachelor's degree in film or film production. Common topics include directing, the history of film, digital editing techniques, cinematography and set design. Most bachelor's programs take four years to complete and culminate in a final film project.

Do I Need Professional Experience?

Experience in the field may be more important than education. According to the Princeton Review, many film editors complete 4-10 years of experiential training before becoming self-sufficient (www.princetonreview.com). Serving as an assistant film editor, production assistant or apprentice can help you gain valuable connections and experience in the field.

In order to be a film editor, you need to have a good eye for the visual elements that make films flow from one shot to the next. Though much of the work is done alone, interpersonal skills are important when working with other post-production crew members, such as musical directors, sound editors and directors. Computer skills are necessary, as editing is done digitally. However, there is no industry standard for editing software, so having a broad knowledge of computer programs may be beneficial.

What's the Job Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employed film and video editors was expected to increase by 18% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Editors with strong computer skills and professional experience could have the best job opportunities. As of May 2015, the states with the highest level of employment for film and video editors included California, New York, Florida, Texas and New Jersey.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Careers that are similar to the work of a film and video editor include editors, producers and directors, and photographers. Editors, producers and directors all need a bachelor's degree, like film and video editors. Although photographers don't need a degree, they do benefit from studies and can learn different techniques and how to use equipment. Like film and video editors, they may use computer software to alter their photographs to improve the presentation of their images. Editors review and revise written material, and may rearrange the order of information or suggest other alterations. Producers and directors work with film and video editors and oversee the different elements involved in a film production. They will ensure that the film and video editors revise the material so that it fits with their vision for the production.

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