Film editors prepare footage for use as a final product. This requires some technological knowledge, a general interest in film and visuals, and typically some amount of post-secondary education. The most important quality for film editors is specific project experience that they can use as a demonstration of their skills to future employers.
Film editors take raw film footage and add music, sound effects and dialogue to create a seamless, cohesive story. There are several lower-level editing positions available depending on the scale of a project, and many future editors perform these jobs on their way to becoming lead editors. An academic foundation followed by work experience is necessary to become a film editor.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||Internships and apprenticeships preferred|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||18%*|
|Median Annual Salary (May 2015)||$61,750*|
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Educational requirements for film editors vary because employment is often based upon experience and industry connections. Film editors typically earn a Bachelor of Arts with a major in film and television, film studies or communications. Because film editors need to know how to work camera equipment, they may also major in cinematography. Film editors may attend independent film schools, photographic institutes, community colleges, technical schools or traditional universities.
In all programs, students learn about filmmaking equipment and the filmmaking process. This includes traditional editing methods, such as cutting and splicing, although films today are edited digitally. Computer editing programs Final Cut Pro and Avid are the predominant editing software used by professionals. Editors will master one of these programs, but it is advantageous to know both.
Internships give students the opportunity to learn skills outside the classroom, such as editing techniques specific to a genre of film or television, from a professional editor or team of editors. Internships also offer students industry contacts for future work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it's important to start your career as early as possible, because editors with the most work experience often have the most job opportunities.
It is rare for an editor to be the lead editor on a film right out of school or even within the first years of work experience. According to the Motion Picture Editors Guild, film editors begin their careers as apprentice editors or editing room assistants. This step is important because it allows individuals to observe how the editing process works and, unlike an internship, is a paid position. Apprentices should be keen observers of the techniques and the processes of editing. An apprentice is essentially learning how to become an assistant editor, the next step in the chain of employment.
The more experience that aspiring film editors can gather, the better off they will be when entering the workforce. It's important to keep pre-career learning methods in mind, such as internships and apprenticeships. With the right background, a film editor can work their way up to becoming a lead editor.