When you discover how to become a video editor, it may look different than the path someone else takes. This is a rather general career title with multiple paths.
You can become a freelance video editor, a film video editor, a YouTube video editor, or another type of video editor. The career path you choose will likely depend on how much training you already have and what you’re most interested in.
Regardless of the type of video editor you become, it’s important to know what you will be doing. Let’s look at the job duties of a video editor, along with the steps to becoming one.
Job Duties of a Video Editor
Most video editors will have similar job duties. However, they can vary from one project to another. Whether you work freelance or for an employer, your job duties will likely remain the same.
You will help to produce videos, whether for marketing, documentary, or promotions for your clients or employer. It’s also possible to help clients preserve memories or even work on a music video. Some of the common job duties will include:
- Importing and labeling video files
- Performing rough cuts to get rid of excess footage
- Providing a revision of the initial cut
- Adding in sound, colors, and other elements
- Providing a final review and final cut of the video
- Compressing and saving the final video for the client
Whether you work for an employer or for multiple clients as a freelance video editor, this will likely be your process. In some cases, you may only provide one edit for the video, especially with shorter videos for YouTube or other online platforms.
How to Become a Video Editor in 7 Steps
Step #1 – Choose Your Genre
Since you can become a video editor without any specialized education, the first place to start is with your genre. There are many options to choose from including editing commercials, film editing, YouTube video editing, and more. Deciding on the genre you want to work within is a great first step.
After you have chosen a genre, you will want to gain as much knowledge about it as possible. It’s also smart to practice editing and build a portfolio of samples within your chosen genre.
Step #2 – Practice Your Skills
The more practice you can get with video editing, the better off you will be. You want to become an expert in the video editing software you plan to use. This should be a main option, as it will help you boost your resume. Even as a freelancer, it’s smart to choose a popular video editing software.
Along with learning your editing software, it’s a good idea to continue to practice your skills. You should try to learn new editing skills, as well. Soak up as much knowledge as you can and practice as much as you can.
Step #3 – Get a Degree or Certification (Optional)
You don’t need a degree of any sort to become a video editor, especially if you go the freelance route. However, it can help boost your resume and give you many helpful skills. A bachelor’s degree in production or film studies can go a very long way.
With the right degree, you might have a better chance of landing a job. Even as a freelancer, it will help give you some credibility with new clients. Many community colleges also offer certification programs that can help.
Getting a certification in AVID or Adobe Premiere can be very helpful. Many employers will look specifically for these certifications when hiring video editors.
Step #4 – Get the Right Equipment
If you plan to work as a freelance video editor, you will need the right equipment. This will include:
- A high-performance computer with plenty of RAM and CPU, along with the necessary rendering capabilities
- Plenty of external hard drive space or cloud storage for client projects
- A high-resolution video camera
- High-quality headphones
- Popular video editing software
- Editing controllers
- Advanced sound recording tools
- Color-grading control surfaces
While you may not need all of this equipment, at first, you will likely want it sooner or later. When you want to become a video editor, you can’t choose lower-quality equipment. You need a very high-quality computer, excellent video editing software, and the highest quality of all the rest of your equipment.
Step #5 – Build Your Portfolio
Many creative careers don’t require a degree but instead require an excellent portfolio. Video editors need to create a portfolio, preferably on their own website. Show off video samples of the work you have done or even just create samples as you practice your skills.
You can even show a before and after if you were hired to edit a video and have permission from your client. Always include your best work in your portfolio, even if you’re working for an employer.
Step #6 – Gain Experience
As you work your way into a more prominent career as a video editor, you will want to gain experience. You might need to accept an entry-level position before you can work your way into a full-time video editing position. Any type of job allowing you to gain practical experience can help you build your resume.
Step #7 – Work Under an Experienced Video Editor
Many video editors will start as junior video editors. This gives you some experience and allows you to work under an experienced video editor. Even if your ultimate goal is to work as a freelance video editor, spending one year as a junior video editor can really help.
You will gain many new skills through this type of entry-level position. It’s also possible to add to your portfolio. Of course, telling clients you worked as a video editor for a year also provides credibility.
A Few Helpful Tips for Freelance Video Editors
If you plan to become a freelance video editor, you will take a few additional steps in your career path. Freelancers need some basic business knowledge as they will have to find clients and provide customer service for those clients. Gaining skills in networking and marketing can be very helpful.
Those considering the freelance video editing route should use the following three tips:
- Build an Emergency Fund – When you first start out, you might not make much money. It takes time to build up your clients. Having two or three months of living expenses in the bank can help to ensure you’re prepared.
- Versatility is Key – Starting out as a freelance video editor can be difficult. If you can cover multiple genres and types of projects, you can take on more work. Over time, you can scale back and specialize in one specific genre or type of project.
- Make a Clean Transition – If you’re currently working a full-time job, transitioning can be difficult. It’s best if you can reduce your hours at work to part-time, as you build your client base and portfolio. If you cannot cut back your hours, consider getting a part-time job to help financially while you transition to full-time freelance video editing.
These three tips can help you to become a successful freelance video editor. It’s a very rewarding option for those willing to take a small risk.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Video Editor
How much can I earn as a video editor?
If you plan to work for an employer, you will likely earn an average salary of about $38,300 according to Salary.com. Payscale.com has the average for a film/video editor a bit higher at nearly $49K per year.
Those deciding to work as freelancers may have the opportunity to earn quite a bit more. Salary.com has the average annual salary for a freelance video editor at $82,842. That’s more than double the average salary of a video editor working for an employer.
Freelance video editors tend to charge between $25 and $150 per hour. The amount you can charge will likely depend on the type of video editing you do and your experience.
Do I need a degree to become a video editor?
No, but it can certainly be helpful. If you plan to become a freelance video editor, a degree is less necessary. However, working for an employer means you will likely need some type of degree.
According to Indeed.com, about 61% of video editors have a Bachelor’s Degree. Another 11% have an Associate’s Degree with just 2% holding a Master’s Degree. About 27% of video editors don’t have a college degree.
Is the field of video editing growing?
Yes, this is a growing career field. With many companies using video marketing through YouTube and other online platforms, video editing has become a necessary field. It’s expected to see job growth of about 18% over the next ten years. That’s much higher than the average of all occupations in the United States.
If you want to become a video editor, just use the steps above. Soon, you will be enjoying a very rewarding career with a decent salary and plenty of creative work.