Become a Professional Video Editor: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a professional video editor. Research the education requirements, training information, and experience required for starting a career in video editing. View article »

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  • 0:03 Professional Video Editors
  • 0:54 Career Requirements
  • 1:34 Become a Professional…

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Video Transcript

Professional Video Editors

Today's video editors work with digital files, and most of the editing is done with non-linear video editing software. Video editors capture raw digital footage from cameras and select the segments to include in the finished product. They arrange the segments on a timeline in the correct order to match the final script. Other types of media, such as sound effects, music, dialogue, and animation, may also be added. After adding all necessary components, the entire project is rendered to its final format for release as a motion picture, DVD, YouTube video, or other medium. Editors may work shut away in rooms by themselves for hours on end. Those who are self-employed may continually be on the hunt for their next assignment and may have to wait periods of time between jobs.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Fields Digital video production, film, mass communication, multimedia arts, or other related field
Experience 1 year for entry-level; up to 5 years for more advanced positions
Certification Voluntary certifications available
Key Skills Communication and visual skills, creativity, attention to detail, hand-eye coordination, ability to use video editing software
Salary* $61,750 per year (2015 median salary for all film and video editors)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Online Job Postings (May 2012)

Become a Professional Video Editor

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Degree programs geared only toward video editing are limited. Video editing is usually included as part of a film, video, or multimedia production degree program, and that inclusion is usually only a small part of the entire film production process that is covered in the curriculum. These course topics might include non-linear editing, digital video production, and digital post-production. Some programs may offer a digital production practicum where students gain real-world hands-on training.

Step 2: Create a Demo Reel

In the film industry, a demo reel serves as the editor's portfolio. Employers generally want to see the kind of work a job applicant is capable of doing, and a demo reels serves that purpose. Students who attend a degree program will most likely have to develop a demo reel as part of the graduation requirement. A demo reel consists of selections from the editor's best work, demonstrating his or her editing skills and technical proficiency. This sample is usually included with the applicant's resume, either as a DVD or as a link to a website.

Applicants should keep it simple and not overwhelm the employer with too much imagery or gimmicks. Showing a few of the best examples keeps the employer from becoming too distracted by volume.

Step 3: Gain Experience

Employers prefer applicants who have experience in the technology they use as well as video editing methods. Graduates and new editors will likely have to accept assistant editor positions in order to obtain the necessary experience. There are also short-term freelance jobs available whereby graduates and new editors can earn some valuable on-the-job experience in video editing.

Volunteering at a local cable-access station can offer students valuable experience. Most larger communities have a local cable-access station. The programming is generally done by community members on a volunteer basis, and many producers will be happy to accept free editing services. Professional work done for free still counts as experience.

Step 4: Obtain Certification

There are three major video editing software packages on the market and several minor packages. These include Adobe's Creative Suite, Apple's Final Cut Pro Studio, and Avid's Media Composer. Graduates may want to seek certification in one or more of these programs to add as a credential on their resume. Certification is a reliable indicator that the recipient has passed a test demonstrating a specific level of proficiency.

Movie studios and other larger operations usually use Avid Media Composer (PC-based) or Final Cut Pro (Apple), while smaller organization often use Adobe Premiere. If only one certification is practical, the candidate's choice of certification should be based on the career path he or she has chosen.

Step 5: Maintain Proficiency

Updates to software programs and equipment occur often to stay abreast with global trends, keep up with consumer demand, or simply to make completing tasks more efficient. As such, professional video editors should consider taking continuing education classes offered by colleges or software companies to keep their skills current.

Video editors should also read trade publications. Print and online periodicals for the technology and film industry can help professional video editors stay up to date on the latest advancements in technology and help them make more informed decisions relating to continuing education.

Professional video editors typically need a bachelor's degree in digital video production, film, or a related field, as well as experience and a demo reel.

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