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A Guide on Becoming a Video Editor

by
Matthew Williams

Thanks to the popularity of platforms such as TikTok and YouTube, an increasing number of people are becoming interested in video editing. Slicing together sound, video, music, and images to create a compelling piece of media is something that’s both fulfilling and fun.

Now, with more digital content being created than ever before, demand for professional video editors is at an all-time high. Over the next ten years, the video editing industry is expected to grow by over 10%. This is due to videos now being used by content creators, production companies, marketing, traditional media, and streaming platforms all struggling to meet demand.

If you’re looking for a challenging but creative career and love technology, becoming a video editor could be for you. Check out our video editor career guide below to find out more.

What do video editors do?

Video editors piece together footage, audio, special effects, music, and other elements to produce a final video.

Editors are given a vision by the production team and are tasked with slicing and weaving together raw footage and elements to make a video. For larger projects such as Hollywood movies, this can involve working with visual effects (VFX) artists, musicians, voice-over artists and more.

Nowadays, this is done with specialist computer software designed to streamline the editing process and produce polished, professional-looking content.

This software is integral to the job of a video editor. Different production companies and editors will have their own preferences. The most used video editing apps include:

  • Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Da Vinci Resolve
  • Final Cut Pro
What skills do you need?
  • Technology capable
  • Creative
  • Problem-solving
  • Time discipline
  • Detail oriented
  • Good communication

As video editing involves the use of fairly complicated software, being comfortable with technology is a must. Mastering at least one video editing platform is an absolute must, with most professional editors comfortable with two.

Editing videos also involves a fair bit of creativity. Video editors are tasked with spinning a narrative with potentially hundreds of hours of raw footage. Producing a final video can involve making some executive decisions, some creative problem-solving, and having an artistic eye.

For example, a video editor may need to think outside the box and get creative to shave 30 seconds or more off a video to meet the brief. This can often be one of the more challenging aspects of the job and can require a lot of forward planning and discipline to deliver on time.

It’s important, then, for video editors to be effective communicators. Editing a video together can often involve ongoing communication with teams or individuals throughout the process to get things just right.

The best professional video editors are clear communicators and experts at liaising with production teams.

What qualifications do you need to be a video editor?

Becoming a professional video editor does not require any formal qualification or degree.

A strong portfolio of work and relevant experience is generally preferred by most employers and production companies. For this reason, many video editors now start out creating their own YouTube channel, for example, or editing videos for others to hone their skills.

Self-study is vital to becoming a video editor, as experience with editing platforms takes a lot of time, patience, and perseverance.

That said, as video editing platforms become increasingly complicated to use with the industry evolving at an accelerated pace, qualifications can be useful. They can show a commitment to the industry and a video editing career.

Useful and relevant video editing courses and degrees include:

  • Video editing
  • Media studies
  • Creative media production
  • Graphic design
  • Photography
  • Post Production
  • Film and Television studies
  • Fine art
  • Visual art

While some universities offer video editing degrees, specialist media colleges such as the National Film and Television School (NFTS) and the Met Film School London specialise in such courses.

Getting experience

While you might not necessarily need a video editing degree, you will need plenty of experience to land jobs. Creators and production teams want to feel confident that a video editor can deliver on the brief and will not delay publishing for any reason.

Most positions, then, will require you to have a portfolio of work prepared as a showreel and evidence that you’ve worked alongside teams before.

Those still at college or university can start this process early by joining a film-making society and looking online for volunteer opportunities.

Who employs video editors?

Video editors tend to work freelance or are employed as in-house video editors for production companies.

These include:

  • TV show production companies
  • Movie companies
  • Marketing companies
  • Video game companies
  • Post-production studios
  • Independent projects
  • Animation studios
  • Large YouTube channels
  • Influencers and content creators
Working hours and salary

Video editing can take a lot of time, with freelancers often working more than 40 or 50 hours a week. As this is a creative role, video editing can often happen in bursts, with some downtime during working hours inevitable.

For freelance video editors, these hours can also be unsociable. That is, video editors often find themselves working on a project during weekends, evenings, and even bank holidays.

Employed positions can expect to work more structured hours of around 35-41 hours per week but are expected to be productive during these hours. New video editors can expect to make around £18,000 per year. With experience and a good portfolio, however, experienced video editors can expect to earn £45,000 or more per year.

Career prospects

Video editing is in demand, and as such skilled editors can expect to enjoy ongoing employment and freelance work.

The career path of a video editor tends to involve working with bigger and more lucrative clients as you gain experience and reputation.

However, some video editors opt to launch their own production company or post-production house and run a team of others to generate more income and handle bigger clients.

Conclusion

Becoming a video editor is not for everyone. It can involve long hours, labouring over production problems, and a lot of back and forth with teams However, for those who enjoy creative challenges and love seeing a final product, video editing can be a rewarding and fulfilling career path.

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