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TV Editor: Job Description and Requirements for a Career in TV Editing

Learn what TV editors do and what kind of education and training you need to become one. Get information about the employment outlook to see if this job is a good fit for you.

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Career Definition

TV editors transform raw footage filmed on the set of a television show into a polished final product for broadcast. Using computer technology, TV editors mix video footage with music, sound effects, and audio and special effects. They are responsible for the majority of the post-production process, and their editorial decisions determine how the story is told, ultimately molding the audience's experience. TV editors may work with footage for scripted TV shows, television documentaries, news programs, music videos, professional training videos, or advertisements. Most editors are employees of the affiliate stations of national networks, advertising agencies, large cable and television networks, or independent television stations.

Become a TV Editor

Education Required

There are no specific education requirements for a job as a TV editor. Many TV editors hold media, film, information technology or art degrees from 4-year colleges and universities, while others acquire skills solely from on-the-job training. In general, TV editors enter the industry at a lower level, often as camera operators or assistants, and gradually develop their own skills by observing professionals.

Required Skills

The advent of digital technology has rendered the traditional method of cutting film strips manually obsolete. Nowadays, all film and video editors must have computer-savvy and extensive knowledge of video editing software. Moreover, they must be able to adapt to rapidly changing technology. Successful TV editors also need a vivid imagination, artistic eye, and creative mindset. Oftentimes raw footage is of poor quality but necessary to the final product, and TV editors must be resourceful enough to rescue it. A solid understanding of storytelling techniques, good communication skills, and the ability to work well under deadlines are also necessities.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the average annual salary of film and video editors was $64,060 in 2012. The middle 50% of film editors earned between $34,580 and $79,380 that year. Those working in the radio and television broadcasting industry earned an average wage of $55,820 in 2012. Competition for positions was fierce due to the large pool of job applicants. Employment of film and video editors was expected to grow at a rate of 1% from 2012-2022, which was below the national average. About one-quarter of all film and video editors were self-employed as of 2012, according to the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

Broadcast Technician

A broadcast technician is responsible for operating and maintaining the technical equipment used for transmitting television or radio signals. Depending on the size of the station they work for, broadcast technicians may also have some equipment set-up and video editing duties. This job requires an associate's degree; it's helpful for broadcast technicians to have completed classes in math, science, video editing, and production management. On-the-job and on-going training is common. Voluntary industry certification is available. According to the BLS, the number of jobs for broadcast technicians is expected to increase 3% from 2012-2022. The BLS also reported that broadcast technicians earned median pay of $37,880, with higher pay reported in larger markets.

Reporter

Reporters gather and synthesize information on a specific topic through research, interviews, and observation. They report their story through media outlets like television, radio, print, or online. They usually have a bachelor's degree in journalism or a closely related field; they have also typically worked for several years on their college paper, radio station, or television station. The BLS reports that employment of reporters is predicted to decline by 14% from 2012-2022, attributable in part to the decrease in ad sales and consolidation among major media players. Reporters with experience are expected to have better job prospects. Reporters earned a median salary of $35,870 in 2012.

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