Do you love movies, TV shows, and YouTube videos? Do you dream of being part of the creation of this moving medium? Maybe you have a future as a video editor! But, the number of video editing career paths is dizzying. Where do you start?
Knowing where you want to end up will help you chart your course. Understanding the available career options for a video production professional can help you set your focus and pursue opportunities that will get you there. In this article, we share some career paths you can follow on your quest to make video.
Career Paths for Video Editors
Let’s face it: the term “video editor” could be interpreted more ways than a Stanley Kubrick flick. Here are some of the most popular roles that you’ll find in the world of video editing:
- Film Editor – Works on feature-length productions, making sure that the film follows the director’s creative vision. Assembles clips in a sequence, cutting together the footage and building the story.
- TV Studio Editor – Much of the work that takes place in a TV studio is about making things happen in real-time. Focuses on switching between cameras, overlay graphics, and other visuals that help live broadcast audiences experience the show.
- Event Video Editor – Many events, particularly weddings, are captured on video for the clients. There’s plenty of this work to go around, and it’s a popular way to get your start in video editing.
- Web Video Editor – Works on short-form videos designed to be published on the web. The variety of clients and subject matters you can work with is endless and could vary week to week.
- Animator – Creates motion graphics, and puts the finishing touches on productions. In addition to the common video editing platforms, they have skills in effects programs like Adobe After Effects as well.
- Colorist – A special purpose editing role that focuses on perfecting color and other visual settings that give the production a cohesive, polished feel.
It helps to know that the smaller the production, the more of a “generalist” role that you will play. Producing for a local news affiliate, for example, will find you wearing many of these hats. The highly specialized jobs like colorist will only be found in organizations and teams large enough to support multiple editing professionals.
Try It All
A benefit of wearing many hats in video editing is that you build experience and can create a killer demo reel that shows off all of the skills you’ve used professionally. The variety of experience will help you stand out and land more jobs. Thanks to the rise of YouTube and web video, there’s more video editing work than ever before. The web video editor is what I’d call the “Swiss Army Knife Video Editor.” Your work could span practically any genre, helping to fuel your favorite YouTube channels, content publications and more.
The best video editors have spent time in more than one of these fields. Maybe you don’t want to be a colorist for your entire career, but a rotation in a color-focused role can give you an appreciation for the nuances. A suggested career path in video editing would include tours through multiple positions at a variety of editing houses or production companies. Most of the time, you’ll start off as an assistant editor helping a more senior editor with their work and learning along the way. This is how many of the best video editors have cut their teeth.
In short: you don’t have to choose your specialty right away. Try different roles out and edit many types of productions. You’ll find your stride, and good work will beget more of the same.
Breaking In Requires Intentionality
I bet you’ve seen this before: entry level position wanted, several years of experience required.
Even though most would describe the current economy and job market as strong, it’s still hard to break into the creative industry. Especially in video editing, the competition is stiff and full of talented people. If you don’t know what type of role you’re interested in, you might wander aimlessly between job postings and opportunities.
That’s why it helps to be intentional and to set a career path that you want to follow. Use your interests and the roles described above to help you focus in on the best fit for you.
Remember, it’s okay if your career path changes. Don’t become overwhelmed by figuring out your long-term career. Instead, focus on the possibilities, and you’ll discover the logical steps that help you move in the right direction.
Growing Your Career and Finding Balance
Finding focus in your video editing and production career is great. Knowing what you want is the best way to chart the course toward your dream role.
But launching and growing your career doesn’t happen in isolation. If you’re working as a freelancer, there are still bills to pay while you’re trying to land your next big client. You might need to take gigs that are outside of your specialty or desired career path. Look at these as opportunities to develop skills outside of your comfort zone, and to make you a stronger editor.
Finally, it’s okay not to know which of these career paths is the perfect fit for you. What’s more important is taking the first step and jumping into an opportunity. You only need a direction, not a final destination.