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Film and Television Editor Job Description, Career as a Film and Television Editor, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Bachelor’s degree

Average Salary $55,000 per year

Job Outlook Good

Basic Job Description

Film and television editors are responsible for taking video footage and clips for a movie, documentary or television show and cropping, blending and syncing them together in order to produce a professional quality piece of work for the final copy. Editors work closely with directors, producers and camera operators to make sure they know exactly what is expected and what the final product should look like. Editors use a wide variety of digital technology, and are always finding new ways to incorporate the latest technology into their work to improve the product. They also create commercials, previews, advertisements and movie trailers to go promote the film or television show. Many editors work as freelancers, who take on individual projects from a variety of directors and clients to build their name, credibility and variety of work and skills available.

Education and Training Requirements

Most film and television editors have a Bachelor’s degree in graphic design, animation or a similar field. Many universities offer courses for this specific degree program, while many students choose to go to a private trade school that provides a variety of courses that teach all aspects of the film industry including editing, design, producing, directing and filming.

Students are typically required to work as an intern or apprentice on a film or television production set. They will work as an assistant for film crew and editors to understand how the entire filming process works and gain hands-on experience with using equipment. Most film and television editors work as interns for several different companies or on several different films to build up their portfolio and gain resources in the industry.

Getting the Job

Film and television editors will need an extreme eye for detail and ability to keep constant communication with a director to develop exactly what they need for a final product. Most editors start off working for a small production company, and over time branch off and work as a freelance editor for various clients they gain through experience.

Film editors need to know various techniques on how to most effectively edit a film. They must be willing to experiment and make changes from several different angles and using several different types of editing software or programs. Editors are responsible for choosing and adding in music to specific scenes, piecing together clips to make sure the story flows together, and adding in voiceovers or commentary.

Editors must have excellent communication skills so they can understand exactly what the client needs. Editors cannot be afraid to ask questions or speak with several different members of a film crew to make sure they have each piece of footage. If an editor does not believe they have quality footage or enough to fit the needs of the client, they need to speak with directors and offer their input on what could be done. Most editors have experience working on set of a film or television show, and in these cases will go on set to make sure they have enough footage to effectively do their job.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Film and television editors usually start off working for a production company as an assistant editor or on a team of full-time editors. This may lead to opportunities such as managing a team of editors or working as the director that is on set for filming to make sure all the necessary footage has been filmed.

Many editors also move on to work freelance after working in the field for several years. These editors will work for themselves and often take on several clients at a time to do editing projects for them. Editors usually move on to freelancing once they have worked for several industries and have gained a positive reputation to continue increasing their number of clients.

Employment outlook for film and television editors is extremely competitive. In a creative industry such as this, there are almost always more editors looking to get into the field than there are openings. Those who manage to work a secure salaried position for a production company or as an independent freelance editor are the most hard working and creative out of the competition.

Working Conditions and Environment

Film and television editors spend most of their time working in front of a computer editing film clips, music and sound bites. When editors are not creating the final product, they are often working on set with film crew, producers and directors to determine what they need to do and make sure all the clips they need are being filmed.

Film and television editors need to be able to manage their time well and expect to occasionally have to create a lengthy or difficult film in a very short period of time. They must also be comfortable working on movie sets, which can often be hectic and stressful environments. Film editors often find themselves working under pressure or making last minute changes for directors. Working long or unusual hours is common for film editors, and rarely will they find themselves working a steady 9-5 day.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for a film editor is about $55,000 per year. Editors usually start their career making less, and will make more as they begin to build their reputation in the industry and work for larger production companies. Someone who works for a local company will make significantly less than someone working for a company that does work in Hollywood. It is not uncommon for a film editor working for a worldwide company such as Warner Bros. to make a six figure income.

Freelance editors who are hard-working, creative and know how to outshine the competition can often make six-figure incomes as well. The larger a workload they handle, the more clients they can gain and the bigger jobs they will find.

Film and television editors who work a salary position for one company will usually receive benefits such as health insurance, vacation time and sick leave. Freelance editors who work under contracts for various companies have to purchase their own insurance, and work vacations and sick days around the needs of customers. Freelancing allows plenty of flexibility, but also requires dedication and the ability to manage time and expenses well.

Where to Go for More Information

Video Symphony
266 East Magnolia
Burbank, CA 91502
(818) 557-7200

American Cinema Editors, Inc.
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608
(818) 777-2900

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCommunication and the Arts