Video Editor

How to Become a Video Editor
Job Duties of a Video Editor
Skills and Qualities of a Video Editor
Video Editor Salaries
Influential Video Editors
Leading Organizations for Video Editors
Top Cities for Video Editing Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Video Editor

Video editors train and educate themselves in any number of ways. Some apprentice at production studios and post houses, while others enter educational programs at local community colleges or at prestigious academic institutions. Two leading examples of the latter would include NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television. Still others turn autodidact and teach themselves the skills necessary to be a video editor. These individuals then continue in the profession as freelancers, at post houses or as members of corporations.

With the rise of so-called 'prosumer' hardware and software and the availability of any number of excellent books on video editing, it has never been easier or less expensive to learn advanced video editing techniques. Of course, the contacts one makes as part of a structured training program, either as a tradesman or as an undergraduate, will likely prove crucial in establishing oneself in the profession. Nevertheless, one can certainly develop the pure skill and knowledge necessary to be a successful video editor at home, with a minimum financial investment.

What does a Video Editor do?

Video editors arrange, touch-up and otherwise amend footage captured by digital and film-based recording devices. They work for a diverse range of employers including television stations, film production companies and new media developers. Video editors also frequently work as full-time or part-time freelancers and in partnership with other video editors at small businesses referred to as "post houses."

As the content of the Internet becomes more and more video-driven, a number of industries, which have previously been unconcerned with video production and post-production, have begun adding video editors to their ranks. For example, newspapers, magazines and other traditionally print-based media outlets have, in recent years, begun employing video editors to produce content for their websites, as have fashion designers such as Calvin Klein, book publishers such as Simon & Schuster and art museums, like MOCA in Los Angeles.

With such a rich array of opportunities video editors now have a great deal of occupational security, a wide range of industries in which they can work and a climate in which they can thrive. Indeed, one can safely say that video editors have never been in more demand by a more diverse set of industries than they are in the early twenty-first century.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Video Editor?

An effective video editor must have a keen eye for design and timing, an acute sense of narrative coherence and an ability to communicate a diverse range of messages with visual media. Since they often work with, and oftentimes under, art directors, customers, and storytellers, video editors must be able to accept constructive criticism and subvert their own sensibility, ego and visions for those of their employers and creative partners.

Contemporary video editors must also be masters of a number of computer programs and hardware apparatus, including Avid's Media Composer, Express DV and Xpress Pro, Apple's Final Cut Pro and QuickTime and Adobe's Premiere Pro and After Effects.

Since some crossover exits within the fields of graphic design, web design and sound engineering, many video editors also find themselves conversant with other elements of Adobe's Creative Suite, including Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Flash and Apple's Logic Studio. If a video editor will be working with live video, they will also require training in a vision mixer, such as Ross' Video Vision or Sony's BVS-3200CP.

Finally, because so many video editors produce their own footage and/or must discuss footage with both lay and professional camera operators, a working knowledge of the major prosumer and professional cameras can give them a substantial professional edge.

How much do Video Editors make?

Video editors have an extraordinary salary range. As with other creative fields, such as acting and writing, high-end video editors may gross hundreds of thousands of dollars if they are working on a major motion picture or television show. While still earning almost double the average US salary of about $30,000/annum, video editors may be paid slightly less when working on either a national commercial campaign or for a major network or cable station. The scale then slides down through medium to large corporations, to post house operators, to independent contractors and finally, freelancers.

Therefore, while there are exceptions within every sector of the video editing community, the following numbers can serve as a general guide to what one might expect to make. In most major markets, freelance and post house video editors may expect to make around $75/hour while those employed at corporations, television stations and by websites in the same markets will be salaried in the $65-75,000 range.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Since video editors work behind-the-scenes, they frequently find their personalities masked by their work and the on-screen personalities of actors and the vision of directors. Nevertheless, video editors attached to major post houses can expect some level of recognition for their work with film and television studios. The team at Pacific Title in Hollywood, would stand as a stellar example of video editors at the top of their field as would those attached to Las Vegas-based, SK+G and Francis Ford Coppola's San Francisco-based, American Zoetrope. On the east coast, video editors at NYC-based, Broadway Video, would handle similarly high-profile work.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

While video editors frequently belong to many of the same unions and guilds as other entertainment professionals, the organizations most directly concerned with income, labor issues and best practices of video editors are Motion Picture Editors Guild (, NABET ( and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (

What are the top cities for Video Editing jobs?

Since more and more business entities are adding video editors to their payrolls, vacancies for the profession have spread to most cities in the US and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future. However, traditional media-focused urban areas such as Southern California, New York City and Atlanta remain favored places for video editors to work.

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