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How Do I Become a TV Editor?

TV editors work on the technical side of the television industry and use computer programs to create the final show from raw video footage. Learn the typical duties of a TV editor, and take a look at education options and salary information.

What Does a TV Editor Do?

As a TV editor, your primary goal will be to cut different pieces of film together to tell a story. You'll assemble all of the footage that was used to shoot a particular episode of television. Many directors shoot TV shows out of order, so the footage will come in different pieces. You'll be responsible for putting those pieces together so that they match the script and tell a cohesive story.

Your job as a TV editor will be both a technical and creative one. You'll need to have the technical prowess to operate editing equipment and software for hours on end. You'll also be responsible for using the footage that best captures a particular emotion or scene. You can affect the pacing and tone of a TV episode by cutting scenes in a certain way or by putting in sound effects and music.

Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Film or broadcasting
Key Responsibilities Cut and splice film, read and follow scripts, operating editing equipment and creating scenes with pieces of footage
Job Growth (2018-2028) 14% growth (for all film and video editors)*
Median Salary (2018) $62,650 (for all film and video editors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Will I Need?

If you're interested in becoming a TV editor, you can choose from one of several educational paths. Many 4-year universities and film schools offer bachelor's degree programs in film and television production that include courses related to editing. Many of these programs will teach you how to use a particular editing system, such as Final Cut Pro or Avid. Some bachelor's degree programs that might also be appropriate include a Bachelor of Science in Film Production and a Bachelor of Science in Digital Cinema.

Many schools also offer professional and vocational certificate programs related to film editing. Such programs will provide you with a basic overview of film and television post-production activities. You'll learn how to assemble footage, incorporate music and sound effects, and insert graphics into a finished piece.

How Will I Get a Job in the Field?

Most TV editing jobs for nationally distributed programs are available in Los Angeles and New York, though you may be able to find work for local stations in smaller markets. You might receive a position working at a post-production studio, or you might work directly for a network. As with most positions in the entertainment industry, you'll most likely be required to start at the bottom and work your way up. You'll probably have to take on an unpaid internship working at a post-production studio before you can become an editorial assistant and eventually a TV editor.

What Will My Salary Be?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 28,160 film and video editors worked in the country in 2018. Most of these professionals worked in the motion picture and video industry, while others worked in radio and television broadcasting or cable programming. The median annual salary in the field in 2018 was $62,650.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians are tasked with setting up and operating the sound recording equipment used to record TV broadcasts. These professionals typically earn a post-secondary certificate prior to starting a career. The editorial work of TV editors is very similar to other types of editors. However, most of these editors edit texts in preparation for publication rather than for film for TV broadcast. They often start their career with a bachelor's degree.