Are you looking to break into the creative industry as a video editor but feel unsure of the steps you should take to reach your goal? Thankfully, there is no set of rules or requirements when it comes to educational courses or preparation. Jumping into a creative career like video editing may provide lucrative opportunities, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates the job outlook to increase by 29% through 2030. However, to understand the best steps you should take to reach your professional goals as an editor or motion graphics specialist, it’s vital to gain a clear understanding of the industry, job role, and software needed to secure a position.

What Does a Video Editor Do?

Essentially, video editors work to tell a story by cutting, rearranging, and manipulating both video and supporting audio clips. Some video editors work with graphics and text as well to ensure the final product is ready for viewing. Most video editors' work happens during post-production of a project but can also include working on elements like storyboards, editing scripts, and maximizing the value of the content. The overall goal for an editor is to take raw footage and audio content and transform it into a final piece true to the brand and suitable for distribution. Daily functions of a video editor will vary between roles, as some professionals choose full-time employment and others prefer working as a freelancer. It’s common for those in a freelancing role to complete long form work on television shows or movies, as well as short form projects like commercials.

Steps to Break into the Industry

Starting a career as a video editor doesn’t have to be challenging when you follow some key steps to prepare. It's important to remember there are countless ways to gain experience for a new career outside of the traditional four-year degree that requires a lot of time and considerable financial commitment. Keep reading below to learn some general steps you can take when preparing for a new design career in film and video editing.

1. Understand Video Editing vs. Motion Graphics

Many people assume the terms video editing and motion graphics are interchangeable not knowing these roles have distinctively different functions. Some of the daily tasks and software used in these types of positions are similar but the overall goal for a video editor differs from those who work in motion graphics. This is what makes it so difficult for some to differentiate between these two roles and understand the bigger picture. Simply put, video editors work to tell a story while motion graphics professionals enhance the story being told through advanced elements like animation or 3D graphics. The work of both roles meshes together on pieces of a project to complement one another and boost the success to create a visually stunning story.

2. Learn the Terminology

Whether you are new to the creative field of video editing or a professional in the industry, it’s important to remain current with standard editing terminology. One of the main goals of a video editor is to combine content to communicate a story, which falls back on using terminology to communicate effectively while working on a project. Some of the most common video editing terms are:

  • B-Roll
  • Cut Aways
  • Transition
  • Split Ends
  • Bit Rate
  • Aspect Ratio
  • Compositing
  • Cut-In
  • Frame Rate

3. Time Management

While not a technical skill, time management is one of the most important skills a video editor should have, regardless of whether they work in a full-time position or through freelancing. Working as a video editor means that you may have several projects happening all at once, requiring you to balance many different tasks each day. This is why time management is such a crucial skill for any creative professional, so they are able to prioritize tasks, stay organized, and remain motivated.

Some creative professionals use software or applications to assist with time management, such as Todoist and the app Focus Keeper. These tools were designed with productivity in mind to help ensure all tasks are completed on time.

4. Stay Current With Trends

Understanding fundamental skills is vital to success as a video editor, but the learning does not end after your initial education courses. The world of video production and editing is constantly growing and changing as technology evolves, which means standard industry practices can change to meet new advancements. Some topics and focuses that were prominent a few years ago can be considered obsolete today. For example, one new focus editors should look into is vertical video for mobile viewing and different collaboration platforms. Editors can stay up to date by reading blog posts, following social media sites, and networking.

Staying current with trends also means having an awareness of genre specifics and understanding the aesthetic expectations within each group. This knowledge can come through formal training and completing projects, as well as staying current in different aesthetic style trends across the field. For example, the style, tone, and aesthetic of a music video are expected to be much different than a news segment or marketing commercial.

5. Build a Strong Reel and Website

Creative professionals and video editors should focus on building a strong reel and website to showcase their unique skill set and attract potential clients. Standard word of mouth and industry networking are great ways to gain business and grow your business, but a solid portfolio reel or website is a clear representation of your technical abilities and unique style.

There are several websites and hosting platforms available for video editors to showcase their work, but many professionals opt for Adobe Portfolio. This platform offers hosting and unlimited pages, compatibility with other apps, and the use of themes. It’s important for video editors to have both a reel and website, as the latter offers more versatility and depth than a reel alone.

Master the Software

6. Adobe Premiere Pro

Adobe Premiere Pro is one of the most popular video editing applications used today for everything from social media work to feature-length films. The comprehensive software is available for both Mac and Windows-based computers and is classified as a non-linear editor. It is a powerful editing tool that offers a clean interface and can integrate with software like Photoshop and After Effects.

7. Adobe After Effects

Though this is not one of the main programs used by video editors, After Effects is a motion graphics and visual effects application. It is common for Motion Designers to use After Effects on an in-depth level, while video editors benefit from a basic understanding of the use and functions of the software. Video editors use After Effects to help with tasks like creating titles or simple compositing, but focus on different software in their day to day tasks.

8. Final Cut Pro

Another non-linear video editing software that professionals in the field should master is Apple’s Final Cut Pro. The application runs exclusively on Mac computers and can integrate to edit footage captured on iPhone in Cinematic mode. Final Cut Pro is Apple’s professional-level editing software that has a clean interface and a plethora of effects.


Avid, also known as Avid Media Composer, is another non-linear video editing software that ranks as a top-choice among professionals in the industry. It’s most popular with editors that need project sharing capabilities and cross-platform capabilities. Avid is available on both Windows and Mac computers, giving it a competitive edge to those that operate on just one system.

10. Adobe Audition

Adobe Audition is a digital audio editing software that video editors use due to its ability to integrate with Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro. Audition helps video editors due to the wide variety of effects and allows them to have complete control over their project. Editors can complete advanced tasks like matching clip volume and locking tracks in time, which is not always possible with other software.

If you are looking to jump into a new design career, taking video editing classes helps ensure you gain the skills and practical experience needed to secure a position. Even if you are new to the creative field of editing, there are a variety of different live online video editing bootcamps available to help prepare you for a new career role. Live online classes provide the freedom to learn from anywhere and eliminate the need to commute through heavy traffic. If you are ready to learn more about this creative position, try searching for video editing bootcamps in your area to get started!