How to Become a Video Editor

Edited by Ben Jacklin
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If you're a storyteller or creative looking to make a career out of your visual skills, then becoming a video editor could be the perfect option for you. Video editors take raw footage and turn it into compelling stories. They create engaging visuals while ensuring the video’s message is conveyed effectively and seamlessly. 

Becoming a video editor requires dedication, hard work, practice, and knowledge of software tools and storytelling techniques. In this article, we’ll break down how you can become a professional video editor.

Video editing 101

A video editor is responsible for assembling recorded raw material into a finished product suitable for broadcasting. This includes selecting and editing the best cuts and combining them with graphics, music, dialogue, and other elements to create a cohesive product. 

Video editors commonly work in post-production with directors, producers, and other creative members of the film industry to produce videos for commercials, TV shows, movies, web series, and more. 

However, video editors are now in high demand throughout the digital media industry to create quick IG reels and TikTok videos or edit podcasts and webinars.

But it's not as simple as it sounds. Editing videos professionally is much different than making a few small tweaks to your vacation Go-Pro footage or a YouTube clip. Take, for example, the task of a video editor on a reality TV show: they have to look through numerous hours of footage from four or five cameras just to craft one 20-minute episode. 

Usually, video editing takes place in an office setting, but in recent years, most editors are working remotely from their homes. Unless you're at an advanced level of editing where you become more involved in the production and directing roles, it’s unlikely you'll be spending time on set.

As a growing niche in the media industry, the demand for video editors is rising. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor, the average annual salary of a video editor in the US was $62,680 in 2021. However, your actual income will depend on a variety of factors such as experience level, location, and type of video editing job you have. 

If you’re working freelance or as an independent contractor, you may be able to charge more than if you were employed directly by a production company or studio. Some video editors specialize in certain types of projects, like commercials or music videos, which can command higher rates than other types of projects.

In contrast, the pay of YouTube video editors depends on how popular the target channel is. Some YouTubers make much more money than some film producers like, for example, MrBeast, who made over $50 million in 2021 alone. To keep up with the demands for high quality content, YouTubers with growing channels look for video editors who’ll take on the more time-consuming process of editing so they can focus more on the creative aspect of content making for their channel.

Video editing degrees

While a college degree is not required to become a video editor, having one may give you an edge over other applicants. 

If you have an interest in filmmaking and the creative ability to manipulate videos, it's important to get a proper educational qualification, and a bachelor's degree is the first step toward becoming a professional video editor. 

Here are some of the most popular options for undergraduate-level video and film editing courses that can help you reach your goal of becoming a successful video editor:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Film and Television Production 

  • Bachelor of Science in Digital Video Technology 

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Filmmaking 

Once you’ve got a degree to put in your resume, you can find an internship or entry-level position to get your video editing career started. However, getting a degree isn’t the only way forward.

How to become a video editor without a degree

Some video editors get their start by teaching themselves the basics of montage, while others attend a formal program in film and television production or take courses in digital media. 

If you’re just starting out as an editor, you don’t have to get a degree. A few individual classes on topics like cinematography, sound design, and motion graphics may be just enough. These will help you understand the entire filmmaking process better and may improve the quality of your final videos. 

Here are three other tips to strengthen your candidacy that don’t require a 4-year degree:

  • Work on personal projects: Start working on personal projects first in order to build up a portfolio of your work. Try creating different types of videos, like time-lapse, a cinematic trailer, a travelog, or a stop-motion animation. If you’re so inclined, you can even create your own YouTube or TikTok channel to show off your skills. Working on personal projects will give you the chance to hone your skills and communicate you’re comfortable with different types of software. 
  • Curate your portfolio: With a few projects under your belt, it’s time to curate your portfolio. This is an essential part of the job search process, as potential employers will want to see what type of work you are capable of producing. It’s important to showcase only your best work in order to make a good impression. Once you’ve built a solid portfolio and have some experience under your belt, it’s time to start offering your video production services professionally.
  • Collect customer reviews: Make sure that your customers leave you feedback. This will both help you grow as an editor and provide you credibility for getting hired on future projects. Inspire your customers to leave honest reviews and feature the best in your resume.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and work on projects that spark your passion for fun.

How to become a freelance video editor

Becoming a freelance video editor can be a great way to turn your passion for video editing into a career. 

Here are some steps you can take to become a freelance video editor:

Network strategically

In the freelance video editing industry, networking is key when it comes to finding jobs. Getting your first professional experience in video editing and networking with the industry can be a daunting task, but there are some concrete steps you can take to get started.

  1. Research the field of video editors and define who inspires you. This will make it easier to connect with people in the industry and help you find the right environment for growing your talent.

  2. Follow your favorite creators on social media and connect with them. This way you can  get advice on how they got started in the industry or even land an opportunity to shadow them on a project.

  3. Attend industry events and conferences in your area. It can be a great way to make connections and learn about new trends and software options.

Leverage social media

Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are essential for networking with other professionals in the field as well as sharing your work and learning about job openings.

Always keep an eye out for entry-level positions, internships, or freelance opportunities that will help you build your portfolio and gain experience in the video editing field. Even if it’s a non-paying opportunity, it can be helpful for getting started and making progress toward a successful career in the industry. With experience, you’ll learn how much your services are worth and how to prioritize opportunities to further your career.

Create an appealing resume

Reaching out to video making companies or individual creators directly with your resume and reel is a general go-to way to find work. While you're at it, make sure that your resume and reel are up to date and have all your latest projects included in them. There are free professional templates available online that you can use to create a professional-looking resume that’s appropriate for the video industry.

Create a website

Having a website where potential clients can view your portfolio and learn more about your services is essential. You can create a website using platforms like Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress, to name a few.

Set your rates

Determine your rates based on your level of experience, the type of projects you work on, and the amount of time it takes to complete a project. Research what other freelance video editors are charging to get an idea of the market rates. As you gain experience and client recommendations based on the quality of your work, you’ll be able to adjust your rates accordingly.

Keep learning

The key to success in the video editing industry is to continuously stay up-to-date with new technologies and trends. For example, by attending workshops, seminars, and classes on topics such as color grading and motion graphics, you can learn more about the tools used in the field and become a better editor.

How to become a video editor for YouTube

As mentioned earlier, being a video editor on YouTube isn’t as simple as just editing; you can either apply to a channel that needs an editor, or you can start your own. Here are some tips on launching a successful YouTube channel:

  • Research the basics of YouTube video creation: To be successful at creating videos for YouTube, you need to understand the basics of content creation for the platform, such as file formats and video length requirements. Familiarize yourself with copyright laws so you don’t accidentally infringe on anyone else’s work.

  • Determine your niche: YouTube is a competitive platform, so you’ll need to find your niche to stand out. Think about what type of videos you want to create and research which topics are popular on the platform.

  • Develop your video editing skills: Once you’ve established your niche, it’s time to hone your technical video editing skills. Practice editing with free or low-cost software like iMovie or Movavi Video Editor and read tutorials online that can help you become an expert in the programs of your choice.

  • Create a YouTube channel: Make sure you create an eye-catching profile, upload a great banner image, and write a compelling description of your channel.

  • Publish videos: Once you’ve created some videos, it’s time to start publishing them on YouTube. Promote your videos by sharing them on social media and other platforms so that they can reach the widest possible audience.

  • Monitor analytics: Keep track of how viewers are responding to your videos by monitoring analytics such as watch time, engagement rate, and subscriber count. Use this data to determine which types of content perform best and make adjustments where necessary.

Creating your own YouTube channel gives you more creative freedom and control over the content you create. You can also use it as a platform to showcase your video editing skills and collaborate with other creators.

How to improve as a professional video editor

The road to being a professional video editor requires a combination of technical and creative skills, as well as extensive experience in the industry.

Go beyond the essentials

You need to have a strong grasp of video editing software such as Adobe Premiere Pro or After Effects, Final Cut Pro, or DaVinci Resolve. Take online courses or attend in-person classes to learn the software and its features.

Then, practice editing different types of footage to develop and perfect your editing skills. Go beyond the basic principles of editing, such as pacing and rhythm, and perfect your storytelling ability to capture a variety of audiences.

Specialize

Consider specializing in a particular type of video editing, such as documentaries, music videos, or commercials. This can help you stand out in a crowded market by becoming an expert in a particular niche. It’ll also help you market yourself more succinctly, especially because not everyone wants a jack-of-all-trades for larger projects.

Stay up-to-date with trends and technology

The video editing industry is constantly evolving, and you need to stay up-to-date with new technology and trends. Attend workshops, events, or online courses to learn about the latest video editing techniques and technologies. Additionally, make sure your hardware is also up-to-date, whether it’s getting the right camera or a great computer for video production.

Work on your communication skills

As a pro video editor, you’ll need to communicate effectively with other members of the production team in order to ensure that your vision is being realized. As easy as it sounds, working on your soft skills, like communication and presentation, can be challenging. Still, it’ll greatly help you produce quality work and collaborate on projects to earn recommendations or repeat clients.

Remember, becoming a professional video editor requires dedication and hard work. With persistence and a commitment to learning, you can build the skills and experience necessary to succeed in the industry.

Bottom line

Becoming a video editor requires dedication and hard work, but it can be incredibly rewarding. You’ll need to have knowledge of editing software, creative vision, organizational skills, and problem-solving abilities in order to succeed in this field. 

Take the time to build a portfolio of your work, network with other editors in the industry, and continuously develop your skills while keeping up to date with industry trends. Once you start looking for career opportunities, make sure that your resume has all your latest projects included in it.

Movavi Video Editor

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*The free version of Movavi Video Editor may have the following restrictions depending on the build: watermark on exported clips, 60-second video or 1/2 audio length limit, and/or some advanced features unavailable when exporting videos.

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