How Much Does a Film Editor Make? A Salary Guide

Movies come in many forms, from large-scale motion pictures to short video clips produced for the web, but all professional movies require editing. Film and video editors use computer software to alter and arrange movie scenes based on the vision of the movies director. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that most new film and video editors have a bachelor’s degree and several years of experience working as an assistant to an editor. Keep reading to find out how much of a film editor salary you can expect and what will impact the money youre paid.

How Much Do Video Editors Make?

Where do film editors earn the highest salary?

These three cities have the highest average salaries for filmmakers, which includes film editors:

How much does a film editor make?

Studio productions have larger budgets than independent films, so film editors working on these projects may earn more money. Union productions must also pay their film editors within a set range, which is typically a higher wage than film editors make working on non-union projects.

What does a film editor do?

A film editor takes raw film footage and audio clips and assembles them to create the final, refined film that audiences see. They make sure the film tells a cohesive story that fulfills the directors creative vision. Some of the common tasks film editors perform include:

Film editors may work as the solo editor on a project, or they may collaborate with other editors. When collaborating, these professionals split the scenes they edit, then swap their work and re-edit for further improvements.

How can you increase your earnings as a film editor?

There are several things you can do to increase your earnings as a film editor, such as:

Earning a degree

Some successful film editors have extensive industry experience rather than formal qualifications. However, earning a film degree may help you secure a higher salary, especially while you are still gaining experience. Completing a Bachelor of Arts in film production or Bachelor of Arts in film editing can teach you valuable skills and help you make connections in the film industry.

Negotiating for better salaries

Most film editors are freelance workers who negotiate their own salaries. Film editors who can successfully advocate for better salaries earn more money than those who willingly accept lower pay. Successful negotiating requires confidence and good communication to express why you believe your work is worth the salary you are requesting.

Working efficiently

A film editors hourly rate is largely based on the amount of work they can complete within that time period. Film editors who work efficiently earn a reputation for their productivity, which can help them command higher salaries. Film editors typically become more skilled and strategic with experience. However, staying focused and practicing good time management can also increase efficiency.

Working to your deadlines

Film editors may be responsible for setting their own deadlines within the larger production timeline, or they may receive clear instructions regarding deadlines. Once you know your deadlines, delivering your work on time helps you develop and maintain a positive reputation within the industry. Setting realistic deadlines will help you deliver your work on time, so it may be useful to track your editing time on various projects so you can correctly estimate the amount of time you will need to complete work on future projects.

Being proactive about finding work

Some film editors are always busy, while others can go months at a time without any work. Applying for a wide range of projects and accepting available jobs can help you earn money consistently. The experience you gain and connections you make on different projects can help you secure more work.

Joining the Motion Picture Editors Guild

Film editors must join the Motion Picture Editors Guild to work on most theatrical films. To join the West Coast chapter, you must first earn your place on the Industry Experience Roster through working on non-union productions, though placement on the roster does not guarantee guild membership.

The East Coast chapter accepts film editors living in the New York or tri-state area. Unlike the West Coast chapter, it does not use the roster system, but it encourages applicants to discuss their situation with its representatives before deciding to join. Applicants must pay an initiation fee, and members can also access training courses that can help them further develop their skills.

Gaining certification for editing software

Gaining certification for editing software shows your mastery of these programs. You can become certified for using most of the most popular programs for film professionals including Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro and Media Compressor. Certified film editors may secure higher salaries than editors without certification.

Understanding modern trends

The world of film editing is constantly evolving, and being aware of changes in methodologies and technologies can help you identify your own areas for improvement. The best-paid film editors understand whats happening in their industry and spend time researching current trends that inform their work.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


How much do movie editors make per movie?

Entry-level film and video editors can expect to receive between $31940 and $43230 a year, or $15 to $21 per hour, with little to no experience.

How much do top film editors make?

Average National Film Editor Salary

Data provided by the BLS shows that the average annual film editor salary was ​$87,300​ in May 2019. The average wage in the field was ​$41.97​ an hour. Editors in the top 10 percent made more than ​$168,320​ a year, while workers in the bottom 10 percent made less than ​$32,750​.

Do video editors get paid well?

Video editors tend to make almost an average of $59,500 as an annual salary as per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average hourly rate of a video editor can be $40 (in the US). The professional editor can make $80,000, whereas a fresher can earn up to $40,000 per year.

Who is the highest paid movie editor?

Video editors tend to make almost an average of $59,500 as an annual salary as per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average hourly rate of a video editor can be $40 (in the US). The professional editor can make $80,000, whereas a fresher can earn up to $40,000 per year.

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