Film and Video editors: Job Level and Salary Data

Film and Video Editing: The Creative Art of Telling Stories

When we watch a movie, we’re not just watching actors on a screen; we’re entering a captivating world created by the efforts of a team of artists and technicians, one of them being the film and video editor. This is the professional who takes all the pieces of footage shot during production and turns them into a cohesive and impactful story that can move audiences and leave a lasting impression. If you’re interested in working in this exciting field, let’s explore what it entails and what you need to do to get started.

What is Film and Video Editing?

Film and video editing involves manipulating and assembling raw footage, dialogue, sound effects, music, and visual effects to create a finished product that meets the vision and expectations of the director, writer, and producers. Editors use specialized software, such as Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, or Avid, to review, trim, organize, and combine various shots and sequences. They also adjust the pacing, tone, and mood of the scenes to evoke the desired emotions and reactions from the audience.

Film and video editing is not limited to feature films or TV shows. It is also critical in documentaries, commercials, music videos, educational videos, corporate videos, and many other genres and formats. A good editor can enhance the storytelling power of any media and make it more engaging and memorable.

Examples of Film and Video Editing Jobs

There are many different types of film and video editing jobs, each with its own responsibilities, scope, and level of creative input. Some of these roles include:

– Assistant Editor: This entry-level position provides support to the lead editor in managing the footage, creating first cuts, and preparing the project for finishing and delivery. Assistant editors may also do research, make shot lists, or handle administrative tasks.
– Lead Editor: The primary editor is responsible for overseeing the entire post-production process, collaborating with the director and other team members to achieve the desired outcome. They must have excellent technical skills, as well as a creative vision, to shape the narrative and the aesthetics of the film or video.
– Sound Editor: Sound is a crucial element of any production, and a sound editor is responsible for selecting, editing, and mixing the audio tracks to fit the mood and pace of the scenes. They work closely with the lead editor and the sound department to create a polished and immersive soundtrack.
– Visual Effects Editor: In projects that require complex visual effects, the visual effects editor is in charge of integrating the CG or practical effects into the footage seamlessly. They use software like After Effects or Nuke to create or enhance elements such as explosions, creatures, or environments.
– Trailer Editor: The trailer editor has an essential role in promoting the movie or TV show and convincing audiences to watch it. They need to distill the essence of the story and the characters into a captivating and concise trailer that attracts attention without giving away too much.

Education and Training Requirements

To become a film and video editor, you typically need a bachelor’s degree in film, video, or a related field, although some successful editors have learned primarily through on-the-job experience. A film school degree offers courses on various aspects of filmmaking, such as shot composition, script analysis, sound design, lighting, and directing. It also provides access to cutting-edge editing software and equipment and opportunities to network with other filmmakers and industry professionals.

Most film schools offer internships or entry-level roles in editing, such as assistant editors or post-production assistants. These jobs can help you gain practical experience, learn from seasoned editors, and build a portfolio of work that showcases your skills and style.

Another option is to enroll in a film editing certificate or training program, which can offer a more focused and intensive curriculum in editing techniques and software. These programs are usually shorter and more affordable than film school degrees but may have fewer opportunities for practical work and networking.

Progression in Film and Video Editing

There is no set career path in film and video editing, as opportunities arise based on experience, talent, connections, and demand. However, most editors start as assistant editors or editing interns and gradually move up to lead editor or supervising editor roles, depending on their performance and reputation.

Some editors specialize in particular genres or formats, such as comedy, drama, or documentary, while others develop skills in specific areas, such as sound or visual effects. As they gain more experience, they may also become editors for larger-scale productions or use their expertise to mentor and train young editors.

How to Get into Film and Video Editing

Getting into the film and video editing field requires a combination of passion, perseverance, and talent. Here are some tips to help you get started:

– Watch and dissect movies and TV shows in terms of their editing, pacing, and storytelling techniques.
– Practice editing with free or affordable software such as iMovie or Adobe Premiere Elements.
– Create your own short films or videos and edit them to the best of your abilities.
– Attend film festivals, screenings, or industry events to network with other filmmakers and learn about the latest trends and technologies.
– Apply for internships or entry-level jobs in editing or post-production departments to gain practical experience.
– Build an online portfolio showcasing your work and style.


Film and video editing is an exciting and rewarding profession that requires both technical skills and artistic vision. Whether you want to work on blockbuster movies or indie productions, there are many opportunities to enter the field and grow your career. By getting the right education and training, building a strong portfolio, and networking with fellow filmmakers, you can take your first steps towards becoming a successful film and video editor.

Film and Video editors: Job Level and Salary Data

Film and video editors are responsible for editing and assembling recorded raw material into a finished product for films, television shows, and other productions. The job level of film and video editors typically ranges from Level 06 to Level 09.

Location Occupation Pay Basis Job Level Annual Mean Salary Hourly Mean Salary
US National Average Film and video editors All workers Level 06 $52,312.00
US National Average Film and video editors All workers Level 09 $85,945.60 $88,171.20
US National Average Film and video editors Full-time Level 09 $84,531.20 $87,339.20
New York Film and video editors Time-based pay All levels $113,172.80 $98,259.20
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Film and video editors Nonunion All levels $104,520.00

The salary data for film and video editors varies by location and job level. The national average salary for Level 09 film and video editors is $85,945.60 per year. However, in New York the average salary for film and video editors is significantly higher, with an annual mean salary of $113,172.80.

Unionization can also have an effect on the job of film and video editors. Unionized editors may have higher job security, better benefits, and more bargaining power when negotiating salaries. However, non-unionized editors may have more flexibility and may be able to negotiate higher salaries on an individual basis.