How to Become a Film Critic: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a film critic. Learn about the education requirements, as well as the experience you'll need to pursue a career in film criticism.

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  • 0:00 Film Critics: Job Duties
  • 0:25 Career Information
  • 1:00 Step 1: Pursue a Degree
  • 1:35 Step 2: Expand Your Knowledge
  • 1:55 Step 3: Apply for Jobs

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Film Critics: Job Duties

Film critics are knowledgeable about directors, actors, film genres, and the history of movies. They write reviews that discuss plots, themes, and the visual and emotional impact of a movie. The path to becoming a successful film critic usually includes obtaining a college education, preferably one that results in a bachelor's or master's degree in film studies or journalism.

Career Information

Degree Level Bachelor's or master's degree
Degree Fields Journalism, English, film studies, or film criticism
Experience Published writer or reporter
Key Skills Active listening and excellent written communication skills; knowledge of and interest in film; proficient in word processing programs and web-based content management systems; tenacity and attention to detail
Salary $37,720 (2015 median salary for all reporters and correspondents)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Key skills for film critics include an interest in and a knowledge of film, excellent written communication skills and proficiency in word processing. A knowledge of web-based content management systems may also be helpful.

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide salary figures specifically for film critics, in May 2015 they reported that the median annual salary for reporters and correspondents in general was $37,720.

Still interested in becoming a film critic? Good! Let's take a look at some steps that can help you achieve your goal.

Step 1: Pursue a Degree

Working as a film critic requires a strong knowledge of film and journalism. Accredited bachelor's degree programs in film studies or journalism offer coursework in film history and trends. Film critics need stellar writing skills, so those interested in this career may wish to focus on composition and English. Aspiring film critics may also pursue master's degrees in film criticism or film studies; these programs go deep into the study and analysis of film history and techniques and offer more opportunities to practice criticism methods and strategies.

Step 2: Expand Your Knowledge

It's important to learn about the arts and entertainment industry and write reviews about other kinds of entertainment if necessary (such as plays and concerts), which may open up more job opportunities. This is because employers often require film critics to write reviews for various types of arts performances and showcases.

Step 3: Apply for Jobs

Prospective film critics can begin by planning informational interviews to get a feel for the style preferences of different publications. They can also apply at local publications or work as freelance film critics to build a resume and gain valuable experience. Although jobs for reporters and correspondents in general were projected to decline from 2014 to 2024, according to the BLS, aspiring film critics can strengthen their resumes to make themselves more marketable.

Here are some success tips:

  • Watch a wide variety of films. Watch everything from movies on cable television to films at the local fine arts center. These can provide you with context, comparison, and background knowledge about film.
  • Start writing. A blog, submissions to your college newspaper and online reviews are all good ways to start making a name for yourself.
  • Learn about the film industry. Read the work of established film critics and learn about film structure and special effects by watching plenty of films.

Remember, you'll need a bachelor's or master's degree in film studies or journalism to qualify for a position as a film critic. The median annual salary for a reporter or correspondent in general was $37,720 as of May 2015.

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