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How to Build A Video Editing Career

Liza Brown
Liza Brown Originally published Nov 11, 22, updated Mar 27, 24

Some people may be perplexed by the term "video editor." It's used to describe both the individual who edits films and the program they employ. Working with the director and videographer is a key part of a video editor's job. They use video editing to create an engaging narrative. Various strategies can be used during video editing to improve both the audio and the video. It's a job that calls for both perseverance and passion. especially considering that editing a 20-minute video might take up to 16 hours.

start video editing career

Video clips are produced by a director, then edited. The objective is to quickly communicate a story while holding the audience's attention. In conclusion, video editing is the process of assembling the most relevant clips into a coherent order.

With that said, let's get started!

In this article
  1. Select a genre
  2. Create a portfolio
  3. How much do video editors get paid?
  4. Know Your Software
  5. Experience
  6. Spend time on networking
  7. Get your first job
  8. The best locations for video editing
  9. Working in teams

1. Select a genre

Numerous genres are constantly developing in the realm of videography. So, if you've ever wanted to work as a video editor, I suggest editing the kinds of videos you enjoy. A skilled video editor is necessary for every type of video. To edit cinematics, for example, no one employs a film editor. Therefore, choosing the ideal genre for you should be your first step. And you should only diversify your repertoire when you have mastered one.

select video genre

You must maintain an open mind if you want to succeed as a video editor. Every day, new methods and technologies are created. As a result, you should try to improve your talents while also keeping an eye on current trends. You're aware that perfect practice makes perfect. And in the creative industries, this statement is crucial. In order to improve your talents, pick the appropriate tools and progress from easy to complex tasks.

Making the most of every chance is essential if you want to become a professional video editor. In this regard, picking the appropriate genre is just as crucial as the task at hand. Today, the majority of businesses search online for potential applicants. You can apply on employment portals and join online communities. Don't undervalue the importance of having strong ties. Performing independent work makes it easier to network with others in the field. After all, networking with other editors will improve your own video editing skills. Furthermore, developing a strong portfolio and resume will increase your chances of landing a job.

2. Create a portfolio

Your greatest work is shown in your video editor portfolio, which also facilitates contact with potential clients and employers. Before you start, look through the portfolios of other video editors to understand what works and what can make you stand out. Next take the following actions to develop your digital portfolio:

create portfolio videos

Select a platform

To showcase your editing skills, choose a professional video portfolio hosting provider like YouTube or Vimeo or build a personal website.

Identify yourself

Include a powerful biography about your work and yourself, as well as links to your social media profiles, phone number, and resume as a video editor. Add any honors or certifications you've received as well.

Display your work

To show your versatility and depth, including a variety of video types: Start with B-rolls, stock footage, video reels, and montages. Make sure the work is of a high caliber and showcases your varied abilities and distinctive flair. Include a brief summary of each video so that viewers can learn more about your efforts and workflow.

Include calls to action Viewer engagement with your material can be increased by using CTAs like "watch this" or "click here for the entire video"

Submit a portfolio

If no one sees it, even the most visually appealing supercut of video shorts won't generate interest. Share your video editor portfolio on social media and invite your friends, family, and coworkers to look at it.

Prior to looking for your future employment, make sure to identify your hobbies. The easiest way to determine what you are seeking as an editor is to view a wide range of content and first consider what makes the job effective (or not). Afterward, start to eliminate options depending on your tastes as an editor and creative. You'll do your best work on initiatives that are close to your heart or, at the very least, spark your artistic curiosity.

Consider it out: If you're interested in narrative work, try filming your own material and putting it together in an editing program. Or work on a student movie and gain experience among other budding artists.

3. How much do video editors get paid?

The 21st century has seen an increase in the pay of movie and video editors. Online instructional videos, the production of DVDs by movie studios, and software-assisted scene editing are all on the rise.

Professionals typically get promoted with each project because most of them operate on a per-project basis. They make money while working for news organizations, businesses, or the entertainment industry. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average yearly compensation for video editors is close to $59,500. A video editor's typical hourly wage might be $40. (in the US). A professional editor can earn $80,000 annually, compared to a fresher who can make up to $40,000.

However, for independent contractors, the hourly wage may change. It might be anything between $14 and $80 per hour. It depends on the type of editing and the client's budget. The typical freelancer makes $25 per hour in earnings. An hourly wage for a film editor often ranges from $20 to $40. In the United States, 59,300 video editors were working in 2016. A video or film's final draft is heavily influenced by its video editors.

As a result, the businesses rely on them for a variety of duties like color adjustments, cut sequences, screen film, special effects, and sound insertion.

4. Know Your Software

There are several options to study video editing, including classes, university programs, and online training, whether you wish to do it for fun, a side job, or a career move. Given that the video editing sector is expected to expand over the next few years, now is a fantastic moment to enter the field. Here are a few methods for getting started with video editing:

Online classes and tutorials

There are free online lessons that may show you how to maneuver through the workspaces of video editing software, including how to create an interface, manage media, and trim footage, if you're trying to learn video editing on the side. For its digital visual effects equivalent program, look through the Premiere Pro and After Effects tutorials provided by the American Graphic Institute.

University programs

There are four-year undergraduate degrees in film and cinema accessible for students who are interested in learning video editing over the long term and in a comprehensive way. These programs frequently mix theory and principal learning with project-based learning, enabling graduates to enter the workforce with contacts and experience that will help them land positions in the industry or launch their own video editing businesses.

Core courses for degrees in video editing highlight the critical abilities required for success. A job in video editing can be specialized by taking additional electives in areas like audio editing, animation, and special effects. Professors and coworkers from prior projects can offer letters of recommendation for job applications or reviews for a business website in addition to building a strong foundation.

Independent or self-taught learning

Collecting footage, uploading the clips, and experimenting with effect sequencing and other features are other ways to learn how to use video editing software. Researching the subject and watching tutorials won't get you very far in the field of video editing; you need to get your hands dirty. However, reading through the software's user manual to learn about fundamental uses and shortcuts is instructive.

Additionally, advanced techniques like color grading, sound effects, and media management can be learned through tutorials, books, and blog postings. It's always a good idea to ask industry professionals for guidance. Video editors can produce high-quality work fast and start to identify their own editing preferences and style by using the advice of experts.

The likelihood of being selected to edit a project increases with credibility and expertise. Actively looking for employment possibilities is one approach to develop your skills as a video editor. Building a diversified portfolio and demo reel for new video editors can be facilitated by submitting proposals for video editing to nearby companies or posting job bids on freelance websites.

By enrolling in courses or earning a credential in video editing, you can compete for project bids in another method. Job seekers can establish credibility and show a dedication to learning their craft by taking outside training.

5. Experience

As a video editor, education and practice go hand in hand. Naturally, you can't begin working as a video editor without training because you first need to learn how to operate the program and comprehend the fundamental ideas and procedures involved in video editing. However, work experience is a crucial component of training because studying video editing on the job is the only way to truly understand it because it is such a collaborative process.

Therefore, you must first enroll in a formal course of some kind (there are some entirely self-taught video editors, but they remain the exception). You might want to pursue a Level 3 or Level 4 Diploma in Creative Media Production in the UK, for example, as this could be situated at a college or university. In the alternative, you could choose the flexibility an online course can provide if you are unable to afford the time and money required for full-time education.

Of course, you'd want to make sure it was a good one, and just because something is pricey doesn't mean it's good. If the course providers are unable to show evidence that graduates go on to obtain employment in the sector, you have your answer.

Additionally, you'll need to learn how to use video editing software, which will definitely require some independent study even if it's a requirement for your course. When you're ready, you should start looking for experience anywhere you can. Although it would be ideal, most aspiring video editors will need to go elsewhere for internships, apprenticeships, and job placements. The dream would be to get a training program operated by a broadcaster like the BBC.

Sending out numerous inquiries, along with the greatest showreel you can put together, to production firms, advertising agencies, design studios, and others will probably be required to accomplish this. You will also probably have to endure numerous rejections.

It will also need that you support yourself while working a significant amount of hours for no pay. This is not ideal and severely discriminates against those from impoverished origins, much like the situation in other creative industries. However, it is regrettably the current reality in this intensely competitive profession. On the bright side, long-term perseverance should be rewarded with satisfying and artistically gratifying employment and respectable pay.

6. Spend time on networking

Few things are more annoying than attempting to expand your business network while holed up in a room with no windows for most of the day. but connecting with others who are similarly hiding in their own dark spaces!

Since "I don't want to annoy people" is the most common objection to sending cold emails, people frequently decide to attend mixers and live events instead because the crowds are friendlier. The issue with this approach is that it relies entirely on chance encounters at these events for your network to grow. You might attend weekly mixers for the rest of your career without ever meeting your perfect mentor or editing hero.

The chances are very high that the people who could give you career advice or even mentorship are stuck in their own dark rooms, working long hours, and avoiding networking events because they too are most likely introverted, given the likelihood that the editors, assistants, etc. that you really want (i.e. NEED to connect with) are introverted.

People want to see you succeed, so believe me when I say that you can't expect them to come to you. You need to contact them. Because they want to use their free time to give back to the community, many editors at all levels of the industry are starting mentorship sites while also earning some income along in the process.

Nobody wants to read your life narrative if they don't know who you are, and I'm sorry to have to break it to you. Contrary to what you might believe, this is not your "ONLY chance" I know how daunting it can be to reach out in the cold to someone you like who could potentially revolutionize your career with a simple referral. As I've already stated, the main goal of your first email is to elicit a response, so you shouldn't feel compelled to include everything you've ever wanted to say in it.

Consider for a moment what kind of outreach email you would reply to if you were your receiver. Do you want to read about someone's entire life, no matter how intriguing it may be, in one message? Do you know how to reply even if you did want to read it? Remember that even if you've given this message a lot of importance and it could affect your career, this person's life will still go on even if they disregard your email.

You need to pay attention to the format of your email in addition to being mindful of its length. With smartphones and thumb-scrolling in the digital age, we have all evolved into "skimmers" rather than "readers." Don't send a single long text message. Use line breaks and "flag posts" to indicate the topic of each paragraph so the reader knows what to expect from each one.

7. Get your first job

You must first realize that there are numerous ways to become an editor as well as numerous editing specializations. This indicates that there is no obvious course for you to take. This tutorial highlights the key steps you may take to take your first step toward a career in editing. To land your first junior video editing job, use one or more of these strategies:

Assistant video editor

The fact that more and more editing is being done remotely is fantastic. A digital nomad's fantasy, indeed. Accordingly, some editors are searching for Assistant Editors (both local and remote) to assist them with their projects in every country on earth.

Find Assistant Editor positions that fit you based on your skill level, location, internet speeds, and career objectives by searching online and in forums. The numerous employment boards and recruiting websites, along with Craigslist, Facebook Groups, and membership websites like Shooting People, etc., are some good locations worth looking out.

Contact YouTube creators

A strategy that is becoming more and more popular for getting your first paid job is to approach YouTubers and offer your video editing services. This indicates fierce competitiveness. But if you discover the appropriate creator, you might appreciate the task. Be warned that there are short turnaround times and low pay. Don't undersell yourself because there will always be someone else prepared to labor for nothing.

Network at events

All film festivals were compelled to be held online due to the COVID virus. As limitations loosened, festivals began hosting both a live event and an online one. As a result, networking is now simpler than ever before — you don't even need to get up from your desk!

Purchase a ticket to a film festival that showcases the genre of projects you are interested in working on and use the entire event to network. Be personable, not aggressive, and put yourself out there. Additionally, you may browse Vimeo for videos you enjoy and then get in touch with the editor or director to ask about potential opportunities as an assistant. However, networking in person is much simpler. The selling is done by your personality, which is challenging to convey with language.

Use Fiverr or UpWork

This method of landing your first job has a minimal barrier to entry. The problem is that wages are pitiful, and competition is intense. This can be a possibility for you if all you want is to practice and not earn a living. To achieve a position in these marketplaces where you may earn a living, it requires a lot of effort and time. And even then, the labor is generally monotonous. Avoid starting down this road and falling into the Fiverr loop. Due to your lack of connections and lack of expertise in the areas you would genuinely like to edit, it may be challenging for you to move on and work on more intriguing projects.

These are a few methods for getting your first job in video editing. You probably expected something more specific and logical. The problem is that nowadays, a lot of individuals have a PC in their bedroom that is capable of editing videos, so you have to work hard to stand out.

If I were to start again today, I would hound all the editing and post-production companies in my city, utilizing my outgoing personality and creative applications to entice them into granting me an entry-level position.

8. The best locations for video editing

When it comes to launching a career as a video editor, some locations are preferable to others. In this case, California, New Jersey, Hawaii, and New York are the finest states to live in. In California, video editors earn an average pay of $63,678. In contrast, they would average $62,559 and $61,479, respectively, in New Jersey and Hawaii.

Even though the average salary for video editors in New York is only $60,871, this is still greater than the national average. These are the states we found to have the most jobs and the highest salaries. We reduced our list of states to these four by determining the median wage, the cost of living, and the Location Quotient from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Los Angeles is the first place that springs to mindink about movies. And for good cause too! In Los Angeles, countless movies are shot, and every single one of them needs to be edited. About 8,810 video editors were employed in L.A. in 2014, and their average yearly salary was $105,370.

"I believe I'll travel to Boston. In their 2005 song, "Boston," Augustana sings, "I think I'll start a new life, I think I'll start it over." So, pack your bags and travel to the city that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck adore. Rest easy knowing that the average yearly salary for 420 editors was $54,210.

Atlanta is the new movie location that production companies are picking. Video editors have relocated to Atlanta as a result of the switch to get a taste of the industry. 330 editors in Atlanta earned around $52,300 last year.

The dense forest of lush green trees in the Pacific Northwest is ideal for productions of Portlandia and Grimm. In Portland, where there are so many shows, young video editors are advancing their careers. In Portland, 300 video editors made about $46,560 last year.

Illinois provides a 30% tax credit for all eligible productions, much like Georgia does. If you work as an editor and make above $100,000 a year, Illinois will refund 30% of your earnings. Visit InVideo online to get access to a wealth of tools and features if you're looking for a free video editing and creating platform that produces the best results.

Places to avoid

A quick look at the website for the Nebraska Film Commission will show you that the state is not the best for filming. Even though the most recent Alexander Payne movie was filmed in this state, its filmography is still quite little.

Mount Rushmore and the worst film commission website in history are both located in South Dakota. South Dakota makes up for its lack of a rich cinema heritage with its picturesque environment.

Idaho has beautiful countryside, but there are few chances for shooting and post-production. Since Idaho does not offer tax credits to filmmakers, many productions choose to shoot elsewhere.

Hawaii, the setting for the television shows Jurassic Park and Lost, comes in last on the list due to its high cost of living and lack of employment opportunities. A short search revealed that there are absolutely no video editing jobs available in Hawaii. It is expensive to reside in and shoot in Hawaii because a one-way ticket from Los Angeles to the islands costs $500.

9. Working in teams

It's not always necessary to work alone when editing videos. In actuality, as the name implies, it involves the whole team. Reputable companies frequently employ a team of specialists for various aspects of video editing. You'll probably collaborate with a group that includes sound experts, cinematographers, and special effects creators. Enhancing collaboration guarantees the timely and error-free delivery of high-quality movies. Therefore, before beginning your career as a video editor, you must master this expertise.

Videos and films are frequently filmed out of order. For instance, the final scene might be filmed in the middle of production if the weather is right. As a result, you frequently receive unstructured data. As the video editor, it is your responsibility to follow the narrative.

You can depend on the main script, so don't worry. But being aware of what's happening will greatly simplify your life. Keeping in mind the setup of the scene and the intended concepts for each frame, for instance. Sticky notes and a good memory ensure that you never get off track.

The Bottom Line

Due to widespread digitalization, there is a high demand for video editing skills. Several well-known businesses are embracing digital media, particularly in the midst of the recent pandemic. The market has seen a sharp increase in demand for professional video editors. As a result, I covered how to become a video editor in this article along with everything else you need know. Thanks for reading!

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Liza Brown
Liza Brown Mar 27, 24
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