Movie Critic: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Dec 02, 2019

Learn about how to become a movie critic and gain knowledge about movie critic jobs. Discover the skills, education, and experience that is commonly required of movie critics to see if this is a career you want to pursue.

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Movie Reviewer Job Description

A movie reviewer is someone who is paid to see films and give their professional review of them to help audiences determine whether or not they should see the movie themselves. They do so in a clear, informative, and entertaining way without spoiling the film for those who haven't seen it. Movie critics are knowledgable in film theory, construction, and analysis in order to give a review that is more reputable than just an average opinion. They take into consideration the acting, dialogue, and direction, among other things, when writing a review. Their insights should engage conversation among readers and audiences.

In order to write a critical analysis, they usually take notes, outline their ideas, and form a clear argument that is for or against the movie and is based on standard film practices, not just what they observed. Movie critics typically need insight into the film industry, working knowledge of film terminology, and strong communication and writing skills. They usually work for newspapers, magazines, television, or radio; because of the Internet, many critics work for online publications, are freelance writers, or create their own websites. Film criticism is a saturated market, with opportunities lowering. Many film critics are not full-time and supplement their reviewing job by writing other things, such as celebrity or director interviews, or film culture as a whole.

How to Become a Movie Critic

There is no clear-cut path to becoming a movie critic, however, there are a couple of education and experience options for those looking to break into the industry.

Job Type Movie Critic
Education Bachelor's degree preferred or required by publications
Experience Internship, freelance, or self-started blog a plus, sometimes required
Median Salary (2018)* $62,170 (for writers and authors)
Job Outlook (2018-2028)* 0% (little or no change) (for writers and authors)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements for Movie Critics

Film critics generally don't have any formal requirements for education, but since many of them work for professional publications, a bachelor's degree is the usual minimum. A bachelor's degree in film or cinema studies, journalism, English, or communications can provide one with foundational education. Courses in media production, film analysis, film theory, and writing are valuable to aspiring movie reviewers. A master's degree in film studies can increase an individual's knowledge of the film industry and analysis and give them an edge over job competition.

Experience Requirements for Movie Critic Jobs

Since the job market for film critics is highly competitive, it is a good idea to gain experience before applying for a position with a publication. A few ways to do this are applying for internships, submitting freelance articles, or starting an independent website or blog. Not only can these be good experiences for future job applications, but they can also give an individual the chance to hone their skills, gain insight into the industry, and get their voice out to the movie-going public.

Movie Critic Salary

The salary for film critics varies largely by their employer and location. Larger cities with bigger media and arts hubs, such as New York City and Los Angeles, employ more critics. However, due to technology, digital and freelance writers can work from virtually anywhere. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, writers and authors earned an annual median salary of $62,170 in 2018. The BLS additionally reports a job growth of 0% for writers and authors from 2018-2028, indicating that there will be little or no change.

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