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Film Technology Degree and Certificate Program Overviews

Students interested in film technology can earn a certificate or an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree in the field. Learn more about specific aspects of each program and the career outlook for the field of film technology.

Essential Information

Programs in film technology range from the certificate level to a master's degree and focus on the technical aspects of film production from using camera equipment to directing actors on a set. Subjects of emphasis include film technology, film or video production. Students may be required to complete film and video projects in order to gain hands-on experience and build a portfolio of work. Additionally, experiential learning allows them to develop practical equipment and software skills. Depending on the program, enrolled candidates may learn techniques in animation, production, acting, screenwriting, editing and lighting. At the master's level, students must often complete a final thesis project.


Certificate in Film Technology

Certificate programs are generally offered through community colleges, and gives students a crash course in various aspects of film production. Courses may focus on makeup, wardrobe, hairstyling, acting, editing, camera and lighting. Programs might examine the performance and technical sides of the industry and prepare certificate holders to continue on to film technology degree programs or to enter the field directly. There are typically no requirements for entry into a certificate program. Unlike film technology degree programs, there are no general education courses required in a certificate program. Classes give a broad framework of study and cover topics, such as:

  • Camera equipment
  • Digital effects
  • Film production
  • Set design
  • Sound and editing

Associate Degree in Film Technology

Community colleges offer associate-level film technology degrees in a 2-year format. These programs provide an introductory look into filmmaking. Students learn about the different departments within the industry, such as sound recording, set production, lighting and editing. Technical skills, such as planning shoots and using equipment are important in order to succeed in this field. Industry professionals teach classes, and credits are often transferable towards higher film technology degrees. A sample of course offerings include:

  • Art direction
  • Camera techniques
  • Cinematography
  • Screenwriting
  • Pre- and post-production
  • Video editing

Bachelor's Degree in Film Technology

Universities and colleges offer 4-year degree programs in film and video technology. An undergraduate film technology degree program teaches students about the creative, business and technical skills of film production. These programs are hands-on and require students to conceptualize and produce their own video and film projects. There are different concentrations within the major, including writing, acting, producing and directing. Students learn about various types of film, such as documentary and dramatic. The core courses vary according to specialty, and give students practical experience for the workforce. Common topics include:

  • Acting for film
  • Animation
  • Film direction
  • Film internship
  • Production preparations
  • Special effects

Master's Degree in Film Technology

A graduate film technology degree program gives students a more in-depth look at the technical and professional aspects of the industry. Programs typically cover multiple types of film and video production, including educational, Internet, documentary, theatrical and television. Students may choose to specialize in an area, such as writing, directing or editing. Most master's degree programs require students to write and defend a creative thesis at the end of their studies. Students also produce professional-grade work in their classes that they may include in their portfolios. Course subjects include:

  • Directing
  • Editing
  • Screenwriting
  • Digital and Web production
  • Film and video production

Popular Career Options

Completion of a certificate or associate degree program in film technology provides graduates with a background for many entry-level positions. They are prepared to work on set and handle the technical aspects of film and video production. For jobs beyond the entry level, studios require employees to hold degree-level qualifications because of the need for precision. Many opportunities exist in the industry for film technology degree holders and span the different departments. Some job possibilities are:

  • Assistant editor
  • Grip
  • Production assistant
  • Script supervisor
  • Assistant of set design
  • Camera assistant
  • Lighting or sound technician
  • Manager of production
  • Actor
  • Animator
  • Director
  • Producer
  • Screenwriter

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

From 2014-2024, the job outlook is projected to grow by 11% for film and video editors and camera operators, 10% for actors and 9% for producers and directors, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported in 2015 that the average salary for producers and directors was $89,670. Actors earned a median hourly wage of $18.80 in May 2015. During this time, the median annual salary for film and video editors was $61,750, while camera operators earned median wages of $49,080. These are all dependent on experience and location.

Whether just starting out or highly knowledgeable, students have a number of program options for gaining a film technology education. From the certificate to the graduate level, hands-on training with equipment and production techniques can help provide a solid foundation for a potential career in the film industry.


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