How to Become a Movie Editor

Movie Editor Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $58,490
Avg. Pay / hour $28.12
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 14%

Are you passionate about film, have great attention to detail, and plenty of creative vision? If so, then you might like to become a movie editor.

A movie editor puts together film footage, matches it with music, and decides what stays and what goes in a movie.

Good editing can make a bad film good, or a good film really great.

If you would like to become a movie editor, you may have quite a bit of work ahead of you.

This is a competitive industry and making it in the industry can take some time.

You will need to be prepared to work for free on occasion and invest in your own skills if you would like to become a movie editor.

This being said, it’s also important to note that editing can be a particularly rewarding career.

You will have the opportunity to contribute to motion pictures, and also be a part of the movie industry.

You might even win an Oscar one day.

Education Requirements to Become a Movie Editor

If you would like to become a movie editor, your first step would be to learn the editing process.

There are a few ways you can do this.

The first way is to attend a film school and complete a course in editing.

This will teach you the basics, but it can be competitive to get a place in these schools.

You can also learn editing at community college.

If you are already working or unable to attend school, it is possible to attend night classes in film editing as well.

Even after completing a course you will need lots of practice as a movie editor.

While in the old days editing was done on film and involved hours of cutting and pasting, the use of computers and technology has made this much simpler.

To learn to become a movie editor you’ll need a computer editing program.

The most widely used program currently is Final Cut Pro.

You will also need a computer with a lot of memory.

To make your own short films, you could just get footage of your local area and mix it with songs or get one of your friends to make a commentary.

You might like to make your own music videos.

Whatever you are doing, whether it’s for fun or helping your mom edit holiday videos, you’ll be increasing your editing skills.

It’s likely you’ll need to get some experience as an editor before you can land your first paid job.

A good way to start is to look around you local area to find out what internship opportunities are available near you.

Movie Editor Job Description

A movie editor cuts and pastes footage for a film.

They will start by watching all of the footage taken for a film, along with the soundtrack.

They will work closely with the director to decide on what kind of direction the film is heading in.

A editor may delete scenes, or make them much shorter, or sometimes even longer.

They can change soundtracks or add additional music.

A movie editor often has to work to strict deadlines.

Here are some of the tasks of a movie editor:

  • Watching footage of a film
  • Communicating with a director
  • Deleting footage and scene from the final cut of a film
  • Working with computer editing
  • Adding special effects for a movie
  • Editing the soundtrack for a film

Movie Editor Salary and Career Path

When you first become a movie editor, you may have to work for little pay, or even complete some internships to gain experience.

If you’re successful, you’ll be able to move on to paid work.

You might start out working on small projects like commercials or music videos.

With time and experience you could move on to larger films and more high profile work.

Very few movie editors are employed full-time.

Many work on contracts, and may face periods of unemployment.

Most are paid and hourly rate.

According to recent data, the average hourly wage for a film editor is $27.00.

Some similar roles to that of movie editor that your might be interested in include:

  • Cinematographer
  • Movie director
  • Actor
  • Sound engineer
  • Movie Producer

Although the path to become a movie editor can be challenging at times, if you are interested in film and love what you do, then you could find a career as a movie editor very rewarding.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$80,290
New Hampshire$98,790
New Jersey$70,200
New Mexico$70,400
New York$109,190
North Carolina$53,830
Rhode Island$53,290
South Carolina$33,060
South Dakota$39,960
Puerto Rico$41,370

The top earning state in the field is New York, where the average salary is $109,190.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

New York - $109,190
New Hampshire - $98,790
California - $82,010
District of Columbia - $80,290
Connecticut - $76,160
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Film and Video Editors, OCC Code 27-4032, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a movie editor?

Movie editors work in the post-production part of film-making and are responsible for selecting shots and combining them into sequences.

The primary task of a film editor is to cut and arrange footage.

If you’re considering a career in this field, you have to take into account that although movie editing requires technical skills, you must convey the vision of the director and, for this, your interpersonal and communication skills are vital.

You have to discuss with the director and understand what he wants to convey using the film as a medium.

As a movie editor, you can find a job primarily in the motion picture and video industries but also on television.

Work hours depend on the type of project you are working on; most movie editors work full time and may also have to work overtime in order to meet a deadline.

How much does a movie editor make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for movie editors was $62,650, as of May 2018.

How much you will make as a movie editor will depend on a variety of factors, including the region where you live and your experience.

Some movie editors make less than $35,000 a year while others make more than $170,000.

How much does it cost to become a movie editor?

Movie editors usually hold a bachelor’s degree in film or cinema.

A four-year program will cost you, on average, somewhere between $35,000 and more than $100,000.

As a movie editor, you will also have to learn how to use movie editing software and you must be ready to learn throughout your career in order to keep up with the latest technological advances.

What is the demand for movie editors?

This profession has a good growth rate; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for movie editors is expected to grow by 14% from 2018 to 2028.

This growth can be explained, in part, by the high demand for movies.

As more streaming platforms produce their own movies and shows, additional job opportunities for movie editors should appear in this field.

If you want to join this profession you should be ready to face strong competition and having experience working for a TV station or on a film set will give you better job prospects.

How long does it take to become a movie editor?

Most movie editors hold a bachelor’s degree in film or cinema, which can be obtained in approximately 4 years.

A 2-year graduate degree will help you further perfect your skills and may give you an advantage in this highly-competitive field.

In order to keep up with the latest technological advances, you will have to participate in continuing education classes that teach you how to use new editing software.

Online courses, classroom training, and boot camps designed to help you perfect your technical skills are available at may schools.

You can also learn the skills needed for practicing in this profession by working alongside a movie editor.

An assistant position will give you the opportunity of learning the ins and outs of movie editing.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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