How to Become a Film Editor in 3 Simple Steps


What is a Film Editor

Film editors work on unfinished films making cuts, edits, and changes to put together a finished product. They work with other members of a movie production team, such as sound editors and cinematographers to complete a finished movie. Before we analyze how to become a film editor let’s see what are the key skills and duties you will need as a film editor.

Being a film editor requires a good deal of technical knowledge with different software packages, analyzing pieces of film at a fraction of a second, and often working under time pressure.

It is however, incredibly rewarding to see the finished product being consumed by potentially millions of people worldwide. Film editors are often one of the lesser known contributors to a Hollywood blockbuster, but a vitally important part of the process.

The average salary of a film editor is $61,750.

What Does a Film Editor Do?

Film editors start by meeting with the director and other members of the film crew before production starts. They need to get a good grip on the creative vision of the director, as well as understand all the practical elements that will be going into the film.

Throughout the filming process they visit the sets and locations to get a ‘feel’ of the film and depending on the situation and the individual they may get more or less involved. There is a lot of time spend in front of a computer editing the film footage, working with sound engineers, and sending clips to the director for approval.

Time is money in the film business and there are often strict guidelines to work too. This may mean long hours, unexpected extra workloads, and changes or edits to pieces of film that were previously thought to be finished.

Key Duties of a Film Editor Include:

  • Working with directors and film crews to understand their vision
  • Editing film, making cuts, changes, and revisions
  • Adding sound effects, subtitles, and other graphics to film
  • Work to tight deadlines and make revisions as directed
  • Keeping up-to-date with the latest film editing software and techniques

Desirable Skills of a Film Editor

Being a film editor is both challenging and rewarding. There are some skills that will give you an advantage when entering this career path, and will help you to progress:

Knowledge and Interest in the Film Industry

Having an interest or hobby that relates to your chosen line of work is always an advantage. If you have knowledge of how films are made, produced, and some of the work that goes into editing it’s going to be a huge advantage.

Willingness to Keep Up-To-Date with Film Editing Software

Film editing software is always advancing and anyone who doesn’t keep up will be left behind. There is a need for films to continually look better, smoother, and have more impressive effects than the last.

Ability to Work Alone and to Strict Deadlines

There will be what seems like endless hours spent behind a computer working hard to get pieces of film completed to tight deadlines. Being reliable, self-motivated, and dedicated are incredibly important qualities of a film editor.

Good Communication and Working Relationships

There are a lot of people involved behind the scenes when producing a film. Communication and being able to work well with people from all types of backgrounds and levels of experience is important to the success of a film.

Ability to Be Flexible

Changes of schedules, additional edits, and changes to the final cut of a film are not uncommon. A good film editor is able to be flexible at a moments notice and keep a cool head when things are getting busy.
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what is a film editor

Becoming a Film Editor

Step 1: High School Requirements

High School Courses for Film Editors

There are four main courses you can take in high school to help you prepare for becoming a film editor. These courses will prove very useful before moving on to university or studying privately after high school.

Visual Effects Editing

Visual effects editing helps you to understand how to edit pieces of film digitally. There are almost always visual effects added to films in production, some of which are barely noticeable, while some effects may make up complete segments of the film.

Sound Editing

Film editors are expected to work with sound editors to arrange the sounds effects and musical scores of a film. Sometimes on smaller products the film editor will also do all of the sound editing, so being good in this area is a huge advantage.

Digital Video Editing

High school digital video editing courses teach students to edit, organize, and produce digital data. This can include adding the sound overlays, text, special effects, and bringing a project to completion.

Step 2: Get an Undergraduate Degree

Film Editing Certification program 3 months – 1 year

Students with a high school diploma can pursue a certificate in film editing. Depending on the college students will be taken through a range of film editing techniques, such as digital editing, special effects, pre and post-production cuts, graphics, sounds, and more.

Total credit hours (24-32)


Core Courses (24 Credits)

  • The Art of Film
  • Film-making Studio 1
  • Intermediate Film Lab
  • Advanced Pre-Production and Development
  • Advanced Film Production
  • Advanced Post-Production Workshop

Electives (8 Credits)

  • Cinematography and Lighting: Film and Digital
  • Digital Editing: Fundamentals
  • The Aesthetics of Directing
  • Audio Production
  • Script Analysis
  • The Innovative Camera: Experiments in 16mm Film-making
  • Recycled Images and Non-Camera Film-making

The average cost of film editing certificate program is about $ 2,048$ – $ 4,992.

If you are thinking of joining film editing certificate program click below and discover the best programs close to you.
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Associate of Arts in Film Editing program 2 years

Associate of Arts programs takes two years to complete. You can study for these at colleges and film schools, and they differ from certification courses in that they require a much broader understanding of film editing. Students will focus on the core subjects of video editing, lighting techniques, and audio techniques

Curriculum (64 Credits)

  • Freshman Composition
  • College Mathematics
  •  Introduction To Theater
  • Survey Of Entertainment  Technology
  • Basic Stagecraft
  •  Introduction  to the Film Process
  •  U.S. Government
  • General  Psychology
  • Introductory  Sociology .
  • Introduction  to Audio  Production
  • Introduction to Stage Lighting
  • Technical  Theater Production
  • Film Editing
  • Film camera Techniques
  • Film Production I
  • Film Production II
  • Film Production III
  • Film Gripping
  • Film Sound
  • Film Lighting
  •  Art Of Cinematography

The average cost of an associate of arts in film editing program is about $41,165 – $48,170.

If you are thinking of joining an associate of arts in film editing program click below and discover the best programs close to you.
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Bachelor of Arts in Film Editing and Fine Arts Four-Year-Plan

You can study for a Bachelor of Arts in film editing at film schools. Students are required to study additional courses in film studies, and there are some educational requirements from high school classes. An application will require a clear understanding of film and film editing.

Total credit hours 126 – 180

General Education Courses (55 Credits)

  • Survey of Western Art I
  • Survey of Western Art II
  • Management in the Creative Environment
  • Reading Films
  • History of Cinema
  • Survey of Computer Art Applications
  • Advanced Survey of Computer Art Applications
  • Speaking of Ideas
  • Composition
  • Foundations of Story

Core Courses (80 Credits)

  • Collaboration
  • Introduction to Screenwriting
  • Digital Film Production: Story to Screen
  • Pre-production: From Concept to Set
  • Production: Lighting, Camera and Sound
  • Post-production: Cutting the Story
  • Content, Platform and Distribution Revolution
  • Short Film Screenwriting
  • Multi-camera Production
  • Directing Actors
  • Shot Design
  • Editing Aesthetics
  • Visual Storytelling: Directing the Documentary
  • Visual Storytelling: Producing Television
  • Visual Storytelling: Directing the Narrative
  • Visual Storytelling: Virtual Reality to Interactive
  • Commercial and Branded Content Production
  • Production for Mobile and Social Platforms
  • Music Video Production
  • Pre-production Lab: Story and Development
  • Production Lab: Producing and Directing
  • Production Lab: Picture and Sound Editing
  • Production Lab: Cinematography and Visual Design
  • Advanced Production: The Language of Cinematography

The average cost of a bachelor of arts in film editing and fine arts program is about $123,100- $238,200.

If you are thinking of joining a bachelor of arts in film editing and fine arts program click below and discover the best programs close to you.
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Step 3: Get a Graduate Degree (Optional)

Master of Fine Arts in Film and Media Production 2years – 3 years

Master of Fine Arts programs for film and media production are incredibly detailed and personalized to the student. A masters is for students who have already completed a bachelor’s of fine arts and are looking for added focus on areas of interest to the student Applications require a detailed and varied demonstration of experience in film editing.


  • Film Production Studio I
  • Film Production I
  • Cinema Studies
  • Screenwriting
  • Film Production II
  • Media & Society
  • Producing & New Media
  • Film Production Studio II
  • Principles of Visual Aesthetics
  • Thesis Development
  • Thesis Review
  • Final Film Production
  • Psychology of Film
  • Emerging Formats

The average cost of a master’s in film editing program is about $39,350 – $98,870.
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If you are thinking of joining a master in film editing program click below and discover the best programs close to you.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Film Editor and How Much Does it Cost?

Option 1 : Certificate

Degree Time Cost
Certificate 3 months - 1 year$2.048 - $4.992
Certification --
Total 3 months to 1 year$2.048 - $4.992

Option 2 : Associate’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Associates Degree2 years$41.165 - $48.170
Certification --
Total 2 years $41.165 - $48.170

Option 3 : Bachelor’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$123,100- $238,200
Certification --
Total 4 years$123,100- $238,200

Option 4 : Master’s Degree

DegreeTime Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years $123,100- $238,200
Master's2 years to 3 years$39,350 - $98,870
Total6 years to 7 years$162,450- $337,070

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