Film directors, videographers, and actors are probably the first to come to mind when you think about video production. But let’s not forget about the unsung heroes who play a crucial role in making the videos we watch every day—video editors. You can see their work everywhere, from the news, documentaries, commercials, music videos, to movies.
A video editor selects and organizes footage to include in a finished product. They typically work in front of a computer in studios or office settings. Video editors collaborate with a director to bring a vision to life. Think of a video editor as an artist who combines video, sound effects, music, and animation to tell a story.
With today’s abundance of video content on social media and streaming platforms, there are plenty of job opportunities waiting for hopeful video editors. But how do you even start your video editing career? The key is to practice, learn, and build your work experience.
Here’s a comprehensive guide on steps you can take right now to become a professional video editor.
Requirements at a glance
|Educational requirement||Bachelor’s degree|
|College courses||Mass Communication, Broadcast Communication, Film, Multimedia Arts, Advertising|
|Experience||1 year for entry level, up to 5 years for more advanced positions|
|Certifications||Voluntary certifications through workshops, seminars, or online learning|
|Key skills||Proficiency in video editing software. Technical skills in video editing are an editor’s bread and butter. Video editors must know the tools of the trade to effectively execute a project.
Communication skills. Video editors may often work in front of a computer, but they also communicate with other members of a production team, like producers and directors. A good video editor ensures smooth communication so a project goes smoothly.
Creativity. Video editing requires the ability to arrange footage in a logical and aesthetically pleasing manner. It’s the job of a video editor to produce quality content that educates, informs, entertains, or inspires an audience.
Detail-oriented. Editors look at every video frame and decide whether to keep or cut out footage to produce the best output. Skilled video editors master the art of being invisible; an edit should be so polished and seamless that viewers can watch a video without any technical distractions.
How to become a video editor
3 practical things you can do right now
Whether you’re a high school student, college student, or professional who wants to shift careers, you can take small steps to become a video editor. Here are three ways to start building your video editing skills and experience:
1. Do personal editing projects to hone your craft.
Just start. Explore the tools in your laptop’s built-in video editing software, or download a video editing app on your phone. You don’t have to wait until you’re enrolled in a video production course. Compile random videos you took with your phone, or better yet, collaborate with a friend who likes to shoot videos.
Have fun experimenting with small video projects. Thanks to Youtube, you can find hundreds of online tutorials on editing techniques and tricks. As you get the hang of the basics (e.g. cutting footage, putting elements together), you can move on to more advanced techniques. There will always be room to expand your skillset as a video editor.
2. Watch videos with an editor’s eye.
It’s not easy to practice editing when you don’t know the possibilities. Learn to watch videos (e.g. movies, TV shows, commercials) in the perspective of a video editor. Pay attention to details such as pace, timing, and style. Notice how an editor uses fast cuts to convey suspense or action. Observe how long shots are used to evoke drama or boredom. Take in as much as you can from the videos you watch; stocking up on ideas will guide you as you hone your own editing skills.
3. Take up a video production-related course in college.
Most editor positions require a bachelor’s degree in fields like film, broadcasting, or multimedia arts. These courses can equip you with video editing principles and hands-on experience. Studying a video production-related course will give you the opportunity to build your portfolio.
On the side, you could also apply your learnings in the real world by volunteering for short-term projects. Is your cousin’s birthday coming up? Are your grandparents celebrating their anniversary soon? Treat those family events as a training ground for video editing. That AVP or same-day edit is your chance to practice your video editing skills—with clients (AKA your family) who will be grateful for your work, no matter how it turns out!
You learn by doing. Aim to build a great creative portfolio that you can proudly show to companies once you apply for a video editing job.
3 steps you can take after graduation
1. Refine your creative reel
A creative reel is basically a compilation of your best work as a student and freelance editor. This portfolio will serve as proof of your video editing skills. When you’ve put in the hard work in your student productions, freelance jobs, and passion projects, you’re bound to find employers who will like your work and hire you.
2. Upskill yourself.
Learning doesn’t have to stop after you finish college. There are lots of online classes that can enhance your knowledge of video editing principles and techniques. You can also search online for workshops and seminars to earn additional certifications. These credentials will give you an edge when you apply for video editing jobs.
3. Jump right into a video editing career!
Ain’t nothing to it but to do it. Most video editors enter the industry as an assistant video editor or short-term freelancer. As you get more experience, you’ll gain the confidence and credibility to advance in your career.
At the end of the day, perseverance and passion for long-term goals will land you that video editing job. Find your why, equip yourself with skills and experience, and doors will open for you.