Do I Need a Degree to be a Video Editor?

Video editor working at a computer

Almost every single piece of video content you see has been compiled by a video editor. Some large projects even require a team of video editors. The sheer volume of footage being produced each day means anyone looking to become a video editor will have no problem finding work. Of course, you do need to become proficiently skilled at the art form before finding success. The great news, it has never been easier to learn the craft. So, what does a video editor do?

What Does a Video Editor Do?

Video editors can work on a variety of projects across many industries. The basic process and workflow remain similar regardless of what your employer focuses on. The task is always to arrange the footage you have received in such a manner that it accomplishes the purpose of the content creator. If the goal is to tell a story, each part of the narrative must be arranged so the audience can make sense of what’s going on. Likewise, a comedic video designed to entertain must be arranged in a way that elicits a laugh from the viewer.

Regardless of the goal, you will be given all the footage recorded by the film crew. From there, you browse through each clip and start to think about how to structure the piece. Once you have a firm grasp on which clips you want to use, you import them into specialized video editing software. These advanced applications allow you to edit and customize each clip to your liking. Special effects, text fonts, voice clips, music, and other additional graphics can be added here as well. Video editors are responsible for compiling the finished project that audiences will see once published.

Do I Need a Degree to Become a Video Editor?

Technically, you do not need a degree to become a video editor. Demonstrating your skill with an impressive portfolio is enough in most cases. However, you may have no idea what a portfolio is or how to build one that potential employers can’t say no to. Chances are, you have a good amount of knowledge to build before you can hop into a working role. You have two options for how you obtain that knowledge. The first is to teach yourself via internet resources, and the second is to attend a formal education program. Here is a brief rundown of each option and why one is much preferred over the other.

Teaching Yourself

The self-taught route can be a tempting strategy for anyone who grew up with the Internet. Most things can be learned with the help of a YouTube video. However, there are certain complex topics that require a more thorough education to master. Video editing is one such skill that benefits greatly from a focused and consistent curriculum.

The issue with teaching yourself the fine art of video editing is that sea of bad advice and unprofessional practices you would need to sift through. There are some excellent resources online, but someone just starting out would be hard-pressed to differentiate the good from the outdated or misleading content. Once you hone your skills and create a portfolio, you are just guessing what potential employers would like to see. Wouldn’t it be better if you could talk to someone who knew exactly how to break into the industry?

Attending a Creative Arts College

The other option to learning video editing is to attend a digital arts college and enroll in a program focused on film or video editing. Video editing can also be learned via an online campus portal as well. These specialized programs give you the best chance of success when you start looking for jobs as a video editor. Not only do you get access to cutting edge information, but you also get a chance to learn directly from industry veterans. Those are the main advantages, but there are so many additional benefits to consider.

The Benefits of Video Editing and Motion Graphics Education

Enrolling in classes and obtaining your degree offers much more than just a piece of paper, you get everything you need to jumpstart the career of your dreams. This includes the confidence, technical know-how, and social skills needed to get your foot in the door. Let’s take a look at the best benefits in a bit more depth.

Benefit #1: Prove Your Knowledge to Employers

You will learn how to build an excellent portfolio from the same people who have walked in your shoes. Your instructors have worked on published projects and were hired by the same studios you will likely apply for. Not only can they show you how to build an eye-catching portfolio, but they can also review yours to see if it is up to snuff. It is much better to learn about any mistakes from a teacher than your potential employer.

Benefit #2: Learn a Complete Curriculum

Video editing and motion graphics fit snugly into the landscape of digital entertainment. There are many overlapping skills and interests that carry over from one industry to the next. In addition to learning about film, you will also dabble in other art forms such as 3D modeling and animation. Having a basic understanding of these mediums will make you a well-rounded digital artist. And as a video editor, you can try other projects later in your career. If you want to work on video games later in life, your experience in a degree program will serve you nicely.

Benefit #3: Build Confidence in Skills

Any creative work requires the author to show it to people. This can be quite intimidating at first, and many accomplished video editors still have trepidation when it’s time to go public. Having confidence in your skills is mandatory to pushing past your fears and present your art to the world. Good employers will pick up on your strong mindset and appreciate that you assert your talents.

Benefit #4: Networking and Opportunity for Promotions

Everyone you meet at a digital arts school can potentially help you land a job or obtain promotions down the line. When a friend learns of a position and knows you would be a good fit, you might just receive a call out of the blue that leads to your dream job. The more connections you forge, the more likely things are to line up for you. Never underestimate the importance of networking while you develop your other skills.

Benefit #5: Use Industry Standard Equipment and Software

While anyone can download free software and use whatever PC is sitting at home, editing footage at a professional level requires some advanced tech. Many professional editing suites cost a pretty penny. It only makes sense for businesses and schools to purchase these tools. Attending a video editing course allows you to become familiar with all the hardware and software your future employers will be using. This makes the transition into the workforce infinitely easier.

Benefit #6: Make Mistakes and Explore Career Possibilities

A great thing about an education program is that you can make mistakes without devastating consequences. A poor edit or misplaced special effect doesn’t cost the studio money. Instead, the instructor will point out your mistake and you are rewarded with an opportunity to fix your error. In doing so, you learn more than the standard curriculum dictates. Failure is not scary at all, especially when your paycheck isn’t on the line.

What Skills Do Video Editors Need?

There are four core skills that video editors should focus on outside the technical knowledge required to use the hardware and software.

Skill #1: Organization

First and foremost is the ability to stay organized. You may need to keep hundreds of clips straight on a large project. Even keeping a few dozen pieces of footage in the proper order takes some practice. If you naturally organize your surroundings, then you will have no problem with organizing your work.

Skill #2: Attention to Detail

A lot of the clips you analyze will look very similar. Many production crews shoot tons of extra footage to avoid expensive reshoots. Keeping track of all the small things is necessary to choose the optimal clip to place in the final cut. Video editors may even notice mistakes that need to be filmed again, thanks to how fervently they comb over each second of footage.

Skill #3: Teamwork and Communication

Unless you are a small social media content creator doing everything yourself, you will need to work well with others to edit the footage the team produces. Whether it is one single person, or a large team of hundreds of people, you must be able to communicate effectively and keep the peace. Creative endeavors often spark passionate debates, so learning to remain calm and professional is paramount. Even if the situation never gets heated, you still need to work with your teammates to produce a final edit that everyone can be proud of.

Skill #4: Time Management

Sifting through and selecting footage can be incredibly time-consuming. Like most forms of art, an editing project is never truly “done.” Given an infinite amount of time, a video editor could continue making small changes that slightly improve the final product. There comes a point at which each change offers diminishing returns. You must identify this threshold and know when to wrap up a project. Effective time management can practically double the amount of production you do.

Final Thoughts

Anyone looking to become a video editor should go the extra mile and attend a degree program. Formal education provides the best chance of a successful career by offering the experiences and skills you need to land a job. Take the time to learn about the video editing and motion graphics program at IPR and start the career of your dreams.

Video Editing & Motion Graphics Program

Ready to learn more about a career in video editing? IPR’s Online Video Editing & Motion Graphics Degree program is entirely remote, and allows students to earn a multi-skill, multi-functional Associate of Applied Science Degree in less than two years*.  Students learn entry-level skills in every aspect of post-production. IPR’s Video Editing and Motion Graphics program prepares you for a real-world role in post-production processes in the editorial, color, and motion graphics/animations departments.

If you are interested in a career in film and sound design you should tour our Minneapolis creative arts college, see the labs and meet our staff. Call 1-612-351-0631 or contact admissions to make arrangements.

*2-year program completion based on full time enrollment