Become a Film Critic: Education and Career Roadmap

Dec 11, 2019

Learn how to become a film critic. Take a look at the education and experience required for starting a career in film criticism that can turn your love of movies into a paying job.

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  • 0:01 Film Critics
  • 0:25 Career Information
  • 0:59 Step 1: Earn a…
  • 1:56 Step 2: Become a Film Buff
  • 2:20 Step 3: Obtain…
  • 2:50 Step 4: Build Your Reputation

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Film Critics

Film critics review movies and offer their opinions on the acting, writing, editing and cinematography, among other aspects. Critics provide readers with an analysis of the film and compare the plot and story line to similar movies within the same genre. In some instances, film critics may also vote on films during award season.

Career Requirements

Degree Level None; bachelor's degree may be preferred
Degree Field(s) Film studies, journalism
Experience Internships; previous writing experience
Key Skills Writing and communication skills; writing samples (portfolio)
Salary $60,250 (2015 median for writers and authors)

Film critics should have good communication and writing skills. Those interested in working in television should also be proficient in public speaking. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide employment and salary information specific to film critics, it does expect job openings for writers and authors in general to increase by a slower than average rate of 2% between 2014 and 2024. In May 2015, writers and authors overall earned a median salary of $60,250 a year.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Given the success of movie review websites, such as Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic, many viewers have come to rely on the perspectives of film critics when deliberating the worthiness of films. While there are no specific requirements to become a film critic, earning a bachelor's degree in journalism, film studies, English or another related field may be necessary to work in the field. A 4-year bachelor's degree program in film studies includes courses in the history of film, film theory, screenwriting, and the study of different genres, such as musicals, horror, and film noir.

Success Tip:

Gain experience while in school. Aspiring film critics can begin a career working for a school newspaper reviewing films. Some programs may also provide internship opportunities with local companies that give a first-hand view of working in a reporting environment or even the chance to interact with professional film critics.

Step 2: Become a Film Buff

In order to review films successfully, you have to know the intricate world of cinema. Become acquainted with different directors and study their styles, paying close attention to aesthetic differences in art direction, cinematography, plot development, and even musical scores. The more you know about film, the more effectively you'll be able to compare and contrast the works of different artists.

Step 3: Obtain Entry-Level Work

Upon graduation, future film critics could continue their newspaper or radio station experience by applying for entry-level positions at print or online publication companies, or at radio or television stations. Although a new hire's first position probably won't involve critiquing films, getting a foot in the door is the most important first step to segueing into a sought-after position in the future. In addition, it could provide you with a paid method of bolstering your writing skills.

Step 4: Build Your Reputation

The more film critiques you publish, and the more recognized your name becomes, the more opportunities you may have. While working toward the becoming a professional film critic, think about writing your own independent reviews. Many people rely on film critiques provided by amateur and organized websites, blogs and online resources that are easier to access than newspapers and other printed publications. Beginning film critics can set up their own website or blog and post reviews, using the experience and samples later on when pursuing a paid film critic position.

Just to recap, a bachelor's degree in film studies, journalism, or a closely related major may help you qualify for a position as a film critic. As of May 2015, writers and authors in general earned a median annual salary of $60,250 and can expect a slower than average increase in jobs through 2024.

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