Film Editor: Career Profile for the Film Editing Professions

Sep 13, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a film editor. Get a quick overview of the requirements, such as degree programs and job duties, to find out if this is the career for you.

Film and video editors use editing software to combine different parts of a film or video to help a director achieve their artistic vision. Those in this field typically have a bachelor's degree in video production and are experts in using editing software. Editors can stay abreast of technical changes by participating in various continuing education paths.

Essential Information

Film and video editors are technical experts who help directors realize their artistic vision. Editors play a critical role in the creative look of a film. Most film editors hold at least a bachelor's degree in a film-related field.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Editing software expertise
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 11% for all film and video editors and camera operators
Average Salary (2018)* $62,650 for all film and video editors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Profile of a Film Editor

Job Description and Duties

Editors work closely with the director of a film, mostly during post-production. During a film's production (the time when the actual filming takes place) an editor may be given access to the material shot each day, known as dailies in the entertainment industry. This allows the editor to note which shot takes and angles the editor may want to incorporate into the final cut of the movie.

After all filming is complete, an editor typically works with the director in selecting which takes and shots from production are the most consistent with the director's vision for the finished film. Film editors work long hours manipulating scenes with technical video editing equipment and putting together preliminary versions of the film, known as cuts. These cuts are critiqued by the director, financiers and sometimes the actors. The cuts are then revised until the final cut of the movie is ready for audiences.

Editors must be very diplomatic because often the vision of the director will be very different from those with a financial stake in the film, usually the producers. When disputes regarding the film's look arise, it can be the editor's job to create a middle ground that all parties are comfortable with.

Film editors must work well with teams, despite often working alone in dark rooms, looking over film footage. They need good eyesight and creative sensibilities to do well in the profession. Their work hours can be irregular, inconsistent and driven by the needs of the projects on which they work.

Job Outlook

Most film editors work in the film and television industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of film and video editing jobs will increase by 11% in the years 2018-2028.

Traditional film stock may soon be an artifact of a bygone era, as film is replaced by video. Editors will edit video by manipulating digital footage on powerful computer workstations. As the industry changes to digital imaging, filmmaking programs at colleges and universities will likely offer more courses in this budding technology.

Film editing is a competitive industry. Editors must usually work their way up the ladder before gaining steady employment. They may work as production assistants to gain industry contacts and experience. Film editors can also build their portfolio reels by creating short films, and they may include material created for educational programs in these reels.

Salary Information

In May 2018, the BLS reported that film and video editors earned an average annual salary of $62,650. The lowest-paid film and video editors earned an annual wage of $31,940 or less, while the top earners made $1170,040 or more annually in 2018.

Film and video editors should have excellent visual, creative and technical skills. A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum education, but many move up the ranks after years of experience. Despite the field's job current growth rate, it's still highly competitive and one where the potential wage is about $80,000 a year.

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