Careers with a Degree in Film: Job Options and Salary Information

Dec 21, 2019

Film graduates can work as cinematographers, video editors, directors, and producers. Read on to learn about what you can do with a film degree, get film degree salaries and more.

Film Degree Overview

A film degree program provides in-depth training in the various aspects of making a movie including cinematography, editing, sound, mise-en-scene, scriptwriting, and directing. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the historical, political, and social aspects of film and will be able to employ cinematic language in film criticism and analysis.

Undergraduate programs typically prepare students for entry-level roles in the film industry or for graduate studies. Graduate programs, such as a master's degree in film and video, are suited for those who want to pursue careers in academia, and those who seek expertise in film and media research, critical analysis, and media programming. Some schools offer an accelerated graduate degree in film studies that allows students to complete the program at a faster pace. An accelerated master's program can offer either a 4+1 curriculum with combined bachelor's and master's coursework or a professional graduate program that students can finish in less than two years.

Film Degree Jobs

'What can I do with a film degree?' aspiring film students might ask. Graduates can find film degree jobs in production companies, broadcast media, advertising, public relations, nonprofit organizations, and academia. They can focus on topics like camera work, editing, directing, and other facets of video production.

Cinematographer

Cinematographers are responsible for achieving the desired visual aesthetics of a film. They work with directors and camera operators to determine the appropriate angles, lighting, color palette, camera movement, and other elements of a shot. Using the script as a guide, they may decide on lighting plans, choose what types of cameras to use and how to employ filters to achieve the desired look, all in the service of telling a story.

Film and Video Editor

Film and video editors ensure that a movie or video presents a coherent and engaging narrative. They use editing software to arrange video footage in a smooth sequence, cut out unnecessary and distracting parts, work with sound editors to insert audio files such as music and voice-over, and apply appropriate sound and visual effects. They may use techniques to trick the audience, build tension or make sure a joke lands well. They review the final content to make sure that there are no technical errors or gaps in the story.

Producer

Producers are in charge of the business and financial side of a movie, TV show, or other video projects. They may raise funds, manage the budget, set the filming schedule, hire the crew, and have a say in any significant changes to the production. Large-scale projects usually have different producers with varying responsibilities. An executive producer oversees the entire production, assistant producers are responsible for specific aspects like costume design or props, and line producers manage budgets and daily operations.

Director

A director controls the overall creative vision of a video production. They set the course of the narrative, work with cast members on how their performances, and oversee the work of cinematographers, set and costume designers, editors, composers, and other crew members. In major projects, assistant directors are hired to work on specific production tasks.

Film Degree Salary and Career Outlook

Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), producers and directors have a median annual salary of $71,680 as of May 2018, and employment is expected to grow 5 percent from 2018 to 2028. Those in advertising, public relations, and related services earn the most ($89,330) followed by producers and directors in film and video industries ($84,770).

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for camera operators is $54,570 while film and video editors earn $62,650. The highest earners in this field work in the movies and video industries ($61,450 for camera operators, $67,330 for film and video editors). The projected job growth for both occupations is 8 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

Occupations Producers and Directors Camera Operators Film and Video Editors
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 5% 8% 14%
Median Annual Salary (May 2018)* $71,680 $54,570 $62,650

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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