Film and Television Editors


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Broadcast journalism and other media and communications courses may provide you with practical experience in video editing. Because film and television editing requires creativity along with technical skills, you should take English, speech, theater, and other courses that will allow you to develop writing skills. Art and photography classes will involve you with visual media. If you're lucky enough to attend a high school that offers classes in either film history or film production, be sure to take those courses. The American Film Institute's Web site ( offers resources for teachers and students. Finally, don't forget to take computer classes. Editing work constantly makes use of new technology, and you should become familiar and comfortable with computers as soon as possible.

Postsecondary Training

Most studios require a bachelor's degree for those seeking positions as film or television editors. However, actual on-the-job experience is the best guarantee of securing lasting employment. Degrees in liberal arts fields are preferred, but courses in cinematography and audiovisual techniques help editors get started in their work. You may choose to pursue a degree in such subjects as English, journalism, theater, or film. Community and two-year colleges often offer courses in the study of film as literature. Some of these colleges also teach film and video editing or offer degrees in the field. Universities with departments of broadcast journalism offer courses in film and video editing and also may have contacts at local television stations.

Training as a film or television editor takes from four to 10 years. Many editors learn much of their work on the job as an assistant or apprentice at larger studios that offer these positions. During an apprenticeship, the apprentice has the opportunity to see the work of the editor up close. The editor may eventually assign some of his or her minor duties to the apprentice, while still making the larger decisions. After a few years the apprentice may be promoted to editor or may apply for a position as a film or television editor at other studios. Training in film and video editing is also available in the military.

American Cinema Editors offers an internship program to college graduates. Visit for more information.


Some colleges offer undergraduate and graduate certificates in film editing and related fields. Contact schools in your area to learn what's available.  

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Editors can demonstrate their expertise in various editing software be becoming certified in that project. Software vendors such as Avid offer certification for their products. Applicants who pass an examination and meet other requirements can become certified. There is no licensing required for film and television editors.



Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Unless you earn a degree in film or video editing, it will take four to 10 years of on-the-job experience (as an assistant or apprentice) to become an editor. Additionally, any experience you can obtain using editing software programs will be useful.

You should be able to work cooperatively with other creative people when editing a project. You should remain open to suggestions and guidance, while also maintaining your confidence and hold your own opinion in the presence of other professionals. A successful editor has an understanding of the history of film and television and a feel for the narrative form in general. Computer skills are also important and will help you to learn new technology in the field. You may be required to join a union to do this work, depending on the studio. Finally, you should be able to work under deadline pressure and have excellent creative judgment and organizational skills.