Movie Editors: Job & Career Information

Mar 06, 2019

Find out about the job responsibilities of a movie editor. Read the educational requirements, salary and employment outlook to make an informed decision that is right for you.

Career Definition for Movie Editors

A movie editor is an artist, mechanic, collaborator and business person all rolled into one. Editing requires hours of careful review through miles of footage to turn an idea into a compelling story.

Some of the main responsibilities of a movie editor are to read and discuss scripts with the director to better understand his/her vision, travel to the film location and check on the progress of a shoot, collaborate with musical directors and sound editors to help score a film or add sound effects, cut and arrange footage to tell the most compelling story and meet specific length requirements, prepare a rough cut for the director to view and then to make the requested revisions for the final cut.

Education Associate's degree, bachelor's degree
Job Skills Patience and determination, time management, collaboration with others, editing technology proficiency, adaptability
Median Salary $61,180 for film and video editors (2017)
Career Outlook 17% growth for film and video editors (2016-2026)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

One of the best ways to learn the business, technology and art of filmmaking is to attend a 2- or 4-year college that offers programs focused on the filmmaking industry. In school, you will take courses in production, direction, and cinematography, along with classes in editing. Completing a filmmaking program will also give you hands-on experience with systems such as Avid or Final Cut Pro, two examples of the software used in movie editing.

Skills Required

Movie editing is a job for those who enjoy collaborating with other artists, are technologically-minded, and enjoy learning new skills. It is not an ideal career for someone who can't work long hours or cope with deadlines, or who is hoping to rise to the top of the field overnight. To be successful as a movie editor you may have to take many other jobs in the filmmaking industry, such as production assistant, assistant editor and associate editor, before you are finally given the chance to work as a movie editor.

Economic Outlook

To succeed in the movie editing industry, you must be where the action is. In the U.S., that's Los Angeles, California, of course! There, video editors face strong competition. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), movie editors earned a median yearly income of $61,180 in 2015. Movie editors could expect job growth of 17% from 2016-2026, according to the BLS, which is more than the average for all occupations.

To enhance your career, you may want to join an industry organization, such as the Motion Picture Editors Guild. Being a member of this group will help you make contacts and get the jobs you need to build your resume and work around the world. With the right education, experience and talent, plus a little bit of luck, you may enjoy a career in the invisible art of movie editing.

Alternative Career Options

Multimedia Artist

Moving beyond just editing what others have created, multimedia artists and animators use computer software to create visual effects and animation for mediums such as film, television and video games. Although a degree is often not necessary, a strong art portfolio and design technology skills are required. Some of these professionals pursue degrees in computer graphics, fine art and other related fields in order to be more competitive in the industry. The BLS predicted a 8% increase in the employment of multimedia artists and animators between 2016 and 2026 and reported that the median salary of these artists was $70,530 in 2017.

Producer or Director

For those who want to play a major role in the creation of motion pictures, a career in film direction or production is a possibility. Producers and directors are in charge of choosing a script, casting roles, managing the budget and making sure their overall vision of a film is executed. A bachelor's degree is usually required, and majors like business management, communications or theater are common among these professionals. According to the BLS, the median income of directors and producers in 2017 was $71,620. It also projected 12% growth in job opportunities during the 2016-2026 decade.

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