Media Production Editor Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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A media production editor's mean annual salary is around $75,000. Is it worth the education requirements? See real job descriptions and get the truth about career prospects to find out if becoming a media production editor is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Media Production Editor Career

Media production editing is a visual art that requires manipulating video or still images and adding audio to meet specific guidelines set by a director or other superior. Before you start down the path to becoming a media production editor, you'll want to find out the pros and cons of this career.

PROS of a Media Editing Career
Often allows for creativity and personal style*
Opportunity to travel to many different places and events where media is being recorded**
Most work is done independently*
Freelance opportunities available to those with a strong portfolio and experience*

CONS of a Media Editing Career
Highly competitive because of the popularity of the media genre**
Slower-than-average growth expected (1% growth projected from 2012-2022)**
Editors may have to work long hours to meet deadlines**
Entry-level jobs are generally low paying (median starting salary can be as low as $39,000 annually)***

Sources: *The Princeton Review, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), ***

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

As a media production editor, also referred to as a television, video and film editor, you might work with real film or with computers that have programs to assist in the editing process. Before you edit, you'll review sequenced footage or scripts to familiarize yourself with production requirements. The editing process can include removing or altering parts of the video as needed. Editors add in sound effects, music and visual effects, such as computer-generated images. You should have a working knowledge and general interest in video and camera technology because you'll probably operate media equipment, such as video switching equipment and electronic titling systems.

If you're going to work in media or video editing, you will need good eyesight, imagination and creativity. You can expect to work many long, irregular hours, including early mornings and/or late nights. Certain jobs might require work on weekends and major holidays.

Salary and Job Growth

According to the BLS, the mean annual salary for a film and video editor was around $75,000 as of May 2014 ( Salary can vary considerably depending on the industry you're working in. For example, during the same time period, editors working in motion picture and video industries had a mean annual salary of about $82,000, while editors working in the sound recording industries earned roughly $45,000.

Job growth for editors was expected to be slower than average when compared with other occupations, but a strong demand for new media content was also forecast. Employment opportunities for media editors could grow as the motion picture industry increases its need for special effects.

Education and Training Requirements

Most employers in the film and video industry require editors to hold at least a bachelor's degree. Coursework should refine skills in media production, visual arts and digital technology. To work in media production and editing, you'll need strong interpersonal and group communication skills along with skills in written and oral communication. Although most work done by an editor is independent, there will be times that you'll need to work one-on-one with a director or producer.

See What Employers Want

Media is widely available through the Internet, television, video and film; employers can be found in most cities with the majority of jobs in metropolitan areas. Most employers want editors with at least a 4-year degree and the ability to work under pressure, as well as experience with specific editing software and knowledge of the latest video and media editing technology. Here are some sample job postings from from February 2012:

  • A media company in Kansas was looking for a creative and imaginative video producer/editor with a college degree in a media-related field and a minimum of five years' experience.
  • A Dallas company was hiring a junior video editor/motion artist with a degree or experience in film. The job entailed editing video and motion graphics and other production tasks, such as running a teleprompter, assisting in lighting and shooting videos.
  • A hobby store in Oklahoma was advertising a video editing/motion graphic design position. Strong communication skills, flexibility and experience in digital media production, specifically illustration/design, layout and photo manipulation skills, were needed.

How to Get Ahead in the Field

Because this is a highly competitive field, standing out in a crowd is essential. Technology is constantly changing film and video production. A good way to stay on top of the latest changes is to subscribe to magazines and trade publications. Editing is just one process of media production, so being able to complete more than one part of that process can get you an edge in this field. Some of those additional skills include camera operation, writing or directing.

Additional Coursework

Additional coursework can help you develop related skills to possibly increase your chances of employment. A well-rounded education with communication, art, computer and technology courses can enhance your resume, and business classes are essential if you plan on working independently at some point.

While a graduate degree isn't generally required, it could help you acquire advanced skills in video editing and digital media technology, such as Final Cut Pro or Adobe After Effects. Often, students work as assistants while completing graduate-level work, allowing them to gain education and field experience.

Related Career Paths

With the tight competition in media production, you might find yourself hesitant to put the time and money into preparing for this career. Although the whole industry is highly competitive, these other career options might not require the extensive experience you might need to establish yourself as an independent media production editor.

Camera Operator

A camera operator, also called a television, video and motion picture operator, is similar to a media production job. Following the direction of a supervisor, a camera operator uses a television or motion film camera to record broadcasts, television shows and films.

A video operator generally needs to complete a bachelor's degree program to help build the skills employers seek, such as proper use and cleaning of camera and video equipment. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for camera operators was about $40,000 as of May 2010. They had a projected employment growth of nine percent from 2008-2018.

Sound Engineering Technician

Another similar option is sound engineering technician. In this position, you would records sounds, such as music, voices and other sound effects for a variety of media. You would need good listening and oral communication skills.

Technical training to acquire a working knowledge of computers and related technology is required for entry-level work as a sound engineering technician. The median salary in 2010 was $47,000, according to the BLS. Job growth was projected to grow at only six percent between 2008 and 2018.

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