How to Become a Video Editor: 10 Easy Steps for 2024

how to become a video editor

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn Filmmaking Basics: With a focus on the post-production stage.
  • Master Editing Skills: Understand storytelling through editing.
  • Know Video/Audio Formats: Learn MP4, MOV, MP3, WAV, etc.
  • Choose Software: Pick from Premiere Pro, Final Cut, etc.
  • Learn Motion Graphics/VFX: Use software like After Effects.
  • Understand Audio Editing: Focus on sound design and dialogue.
  • Learn Color Correction: Make footage look uniform.
  • Practice: Start with simple projects, then go complex.
  • Build a Portfolio: Create a demo reel to showcase your skills.
  • Network and Learn: Attend events and keep up with trends.

Let me guess: you want to learn how to become a video editor because you love watching inspiring stories with seamless transitions and unbelievable special effects? Or maybe, like me, you love the process of filmmaking and creating videos but want to do it in a way that lets you work from home?

Either way, becoming a professional video editor in 2024 is more possible than ever. Not only are we at an all-time high of content from streaming platforms, but 86% of businesses are using video in their marketing strategies, which is up from 63% over the last three years (Source: WebinarCare).

As an indie filmmaker and small-business entrepreneur, I’ve had to add a number of skills to stay competitive and expand my opportunities. Though I was familiar with video editing for a number of years, the ever-changing medium is one of those valuable skills that can always use upgrading.

So whether you’re an aspiring filmmaker eager to cut stories on the big screen or an entrepreneur looking to build a freelance video editing career, keep on reading because I put together a list of 10 easy steps on how to become a video editor in 2024!

(But don’t get me wrong, video editing is NOT easy. It takes talent, time, and a lot of on-the-job training.)

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.

How to Become a Video Editor

Let’s take a look at each step in turn!

1: Learn the Basics of Filmmaking

We’ve all been there – trying to hide our tears as we exit the theater.

An emotional story that resonates with viewers is the key to great filmmaking. But how did that story go from an idea in someone’s head to a sold-out blockbuster playing in every theater around the country?

If you’re a total newbie, you need to learn the basics of filmmaking to understand where video editing comes into play.

Filmmaking is just a basic process broken out into numerous stages.

Filmmaking Stages

infographic on the stages of making a film
  1. Development: The idea for the film sparks, and the screenplay is written.

  1. Pre-Production: All the arrangements are made for filming, like hiring a cast and crew, finding filming locations, building sets, etc.

  1. Production: Very long days of filming to secure all the digital footage needed to create the final film.

  1. Post-Production: The raw footage is assembled by video editors and other creative individuals to produce the film’s final cut.

  1. Distribution: The completed film is marketed to the audience and sent to cinemas or other platforms.

As a video editor, you’ll live in the post-production phase. It would be rare for you to be involved in any other stages, but sometimes, the director might ask how you’d prefer something to be shot in production to make it easier for you to edit.

After capturing the director’s vision on set, they’ll hand the footage off to the video editors and trust them to bring the film to life. This is where the video editor needs to be familiar with the basics of framing, camera movement, and acting performances to sift through the footage and pick out the best shot selections.

Even if you’re planning to become a video editor for businesses or social media content, you can still apply these basic principles of filmmaking to the content you’re receiving. Someone had to have an idea for that TikTok video, plan how they were going to make it, and then film it, right?

Now that you know where video editing lies in the film production process, it’s time for you to actually learn some video editing skills.

RELATED: You can read my full video camera buyers guide here!

2: Learn the Basics of Video Editing

video editing

This step might seem obvious, and I hope it is! Because you need to know HOW to edit videos if you want to become a successful video editor.

And not only do you need to know how, but you need to know WHY. Why is one shot better than the other? Why does this shot portray anger while that shot shows sadness? Why does adding this reaction shot change the pacing of the scene?

As a video editor, every decision you make breathes life into the story. This is why it’s so important to start with a basic understanding of the art of storytelling. I recommend watching some online tutorials, reading top books on storytelling, or checking out some of my latest articles on storytelling.

You’ll need to know how to select the best shots, figure out which order they should go in, and add in any transitions that help create a seamless flow throughout the film. These seemingly small decisions can heighten tension, make the audience laugh, or cause them to leave the theater in tears.

How someone feels when they watch the film is all up to you!

I remember learning about the Kuleshov Effect – an experiment conducted by Soviet filmmaker Lev Kuleshov in the early 1900s. Basically, Kuleshov proved that the order in which two shots are cut together can change the audience’s reactions to the sequence.

Take a look at the image below.

kuleshov same image of sadness hunger and lust

Kuleshov used the same shot of a man’s face followed by different images. When they thought the man was looking at a coffin, they thought he looked sad. When they thought he was looking at a bowl of soup, they thought he looked hungry. When he was looking at a woman, they thought he loved her.

This experiment proves that video editors have the power to tell a completely different story based on how they arrange the shots.

Now that you know some basic storytelling skills, it’s time to dive into the required technical skills.

3: Video and Audio Formats

Every film editor needs to understand the different video and audio formats. This part can get a bit technical, but it’s worth it to learn. I promise there’s nothing worse than your director or cinematographer asking you to deliver the video as a 1080 MOV 30FPS… and you just stand there with a blank stare…

At least say, “You got it!” and then run to the bathroom and Google it on your phone.

But no fret, I’ll give you a basic rundown here.

What is a Video Format?

A video format is an extension at the end of the video file name: .MP4, .AVI, .MOV, etc. These extensions can provide different attributes, including file size, compression, and compatibility. Sometimes, you might want to choose a video format with the smallest file size to send over the web for a client to review, or sometimes, you might want to export the video with the very best quality.

Different Types of Video Formats

  • MP4: The most common file type for videos. They’re great for web videos because they’re high quality with small file sizes.

  • MOV: Created by Apple to support the QuickTime Player and is primarily used for video editing. They have a larger file size because they provide the highest quality, which is great to edit with.

  • AVI: A high-quality audio format known for its uncompressed quality and compatibility with various platforms, but also resulting in larger file sizes.

  • WEBM: Designed for web use, known for its efficient compression and support for HTML5 video, but often doesn’t work with video editing software.

What is an Audio Format?

You guessed it – an audio format is an extension at the end of the AUDIO file name: .MP3, .WAV, .AIFF, etc. This is important to know as a video editor because you want to make sure you use the best quality audio in your edits. You don’t want your visuals to look flawless but your audio to sound distorted, right?

Different Types of Audio Formats

  • MP3: Compressed lossy audio format with a smaller file size. It is usually used with audio streaming platforms, podcasts, and music videos.

  • WAV: Uncompressed audio format great for a cinematic experience.

  • AIFF: Very similar to WAV, but used exclusively with Apple.

Other Common Video Editing Terms

  • Bit Rate: Units of data that make up the video. Usually measured in the number of bits per second. A higher bit rate results in better quality but also larger file sizes.

  • Resolution: The number of pixels that make up the video: 720×1080, 1920×1080, 3840×2160 (4k). Usually, the higher number of pixels means the sharper the video will look.

  • Frame Rate: The rate at which video frames are played to create motion. Measured in frames per second (fps). The standard frame rate for video is 23.976fps to create smooth motion, but if you want slow motion, you can ask them to record at 60fps.

That was a lot, right? I told you it wasn’t easy! But we’re not done yet. Next, you need to choose which software you want to learn.

4: Learn Video Editing Software

video editing software

Aspiring video editors always ask me, “What video editing software should I use?” My answer is always, “It depends.”

The video editing software you use is important because it’s what you’ll use every day on the job. It’s where you’ll import all your footage, arrange all the best shots, and create layers and effects. Learning every detail and keyboard shortcut your software offers can take years.

There are a few popular video editing applications depending on what type of videos you’re editing.

Adobe Premiere Pro

Adobe Premiere Pro

Adobe Premiere Pro might be the most universal software. It’s used by many content creators, businesses, and music video pros. The seamless integration with Adobe Creative Cloud is a major plus, but the monthly subscription can really add up over time.

Avid Media Composer


Avid Media Composer is the gold standard for editing blockbuster films and award-winning TV shows. Most film schools will teach Avid in their editing classes.

It has a lot of great features for film editing, specifically script integration and multi-user collaboration, but it is a higher learning curve for beginners. On the plus side, it’s only a one-time payment for the software.

Final Cut Pro X

Final Cut Pro

A lot of Mac users swear by Final Cut Pro X. While you will find that some people in the industry prefer it, it’s not as common as Adobe Premiere among professionals.

DaVinci Resolve

DaVinci resolve

While DaVinci Resolve started as a program used by professional color graders to add that cinematic look to the film at the end of the post process, it has evolved into a great editing tool overall.



While iMovie is free for any Apple user and a very easy-to-learn software, I’m guessing that you’re on this page because you want to become a professional video editor.

It’s good to start with something simple, but you’ll be better off if you spend the time learning a professional software listed above.

AI Video Editing Programs


These days, editing programs that use artificial intelligence are getting more and more popular. Some of the best programs include Invideo, Pictory, and VEED. You can learn more about these programs in my list of the best AI video editing software.

5: Motion Graphics & Visual Effects

The art of storytelling doesn’t stop at cuts and transitions. Motion graphics and visual effects (VFX) can transform your videos into engaging and visually striking narratives.

If you’re editing Hollywood films, most likely, there will be a professional motion graphic designer who takes your edit and adds all their graphics on top of it.

If you’re a freelance video editor working with companies and creators, you might try dabbling in some motion graphics. Many companies will want to hire someone who can do all of their post needs instead of hiring a lot of different creatives.

In this case, you can probably charge more as well! Win-win!

As a video editor, you’ll use motion graphics and visual effects to overlay animated text, lower thirds, emojis that pop onto the screen, or anything else you can imagine that you might see in a commercial or YouTube video.

This is where using Adobe Premiere is a great advantage because you can buy the package that comes with the entire Adobe Suite, including Adobe After Effects.

Adobe After Effects is a specialized editing software that allows you to create and design custom motion graphics. You can also replace green screens, track footage, change the colors of certain parts of the footage, etc.

I recommend watching YouTube tutorials or even taking a cheap class on Adobe After Effects or any other visual effects software to sharpen your skills.

You can learn more about my favorite VFX software programs here!

6: Learn About Audio Editing

audio editing

Audio plays an equally vital role as visuals do when it comes to the video editing process. Sound design, foley, background music, and dialogue are all elements that play a part in the final story.

Just like motion graphics, if you’re editing for a professional motion picture, you might have to do some basic audio editing in your video timeline. Still, a professional sound designer will do anything more than that.

But if you’re a one-stop shop video editor, you’ll need to learn some audio editing skills to wow your clients.

Sound quality is probably one of the most underrated aspects of film production. While it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, it can definitely ruin the entire film if it sounds like a low-budget student production.

You’ll want to use some basic audio effects in your editing program to help you achieve that crisp quality dialogue you hear in the cinemas. Effects like a noise remover and dehummer can help you remove unwanted buzzing in the background.

If you want to step it up a notch, you can create some amazing videos using Foley. From footsteps echoing down an alley to the soft rustling leaves in a forest, foley effects can add realism and depth to your videos.

You can use some great royalty-free clips and sound effects from sites like to find exactly the sounds you’re looking for.

7: Color Correction and Grading

The final step in the post-production process is color correction and grading. Usually, in a professional workplace, you wouldn’t touch the color until the client approves the final edit.

How annoying would that be if you spent hours coloring a scene that ends up getting cut from the final video?

And again, just like motion graphics and audio, there are many talented color grading professionals out there whose entire job is to color the footage.

But when you’re working on web content, you’ll need to at least do some basic color correction on your own.

And you may be asking, “It was already shot in color, why do I need to do any color changes?” And that’s a valid point! But usually, every video will need a tiny tweak of color.

You might need to pull down the highlights because it was too bright outside, or you’re going for a moody vibe and want to darken the shadows. Or the ambient light changed between takes. Or you want to match a cheap or free stock footage insert with your footage so it doesn’t look jarring.

At the very least, you’ll want to do a basic color correction to make sure that all the footage looks uniform so it doesn’t distract the viewer.

What is Color Correction?

Color correction is ‘correcting’ the color of the footage so that it all looks similar. If you have five scenes filmed in different places on different days, I’d imagine the footage looks pretty different. Maybe the outdoor shots look more blue, while the inside shots look more yellow from the tungsten lights.

Color correction is playing with the very basic color tools to make all the footage look like it belongs in the same video.

What is Color Grading?

Color grading is a little more advanced than color correction. It involves adding a certain ‘look’ to the video – think about all the different-looking filters you can add to your Instagram stories. The ‘New York’ filter looks dark and grungy, while the ‘Los Angeles’ filter looks more warm and bright.

Color grading is adding a distinct look to the entire film – a look that wasn’t present while filming the footage.

If you’re interested in learning more about color grading, check out my article, where I ranked the best free and paid color grading software.

8: Practice, Practice, Practice!

The most important step for a beginning video editor is to PRACTICE!! I seriously cannot emphasize that enough.

You’re not going to become a successful video editor if you’re not a pro editor. And you’re not going to become a pro editor if you’ve only edited some TikTok videos you made with your friends.

Video editing can become a seriously lucrative career if you take the time to learn the craft and hone your core skills. Start with simple video editing projects – like personal and passion projects. Find a way to get ahold of some footage online and assemble it, or go out and film your own footage.

Pro tip: Download a full-length movie and create a trailer! Or combine two movies into a fan trailer and throw it on YouTube for some views and feedback.

Getting feedback from family and friends is great, but getting feedback from strangers is even better – they won’t hold back!

Practice as much as you can, and when you feel good about your videos, start to build a portfolio.

9: Build Your Portfolio

Creating a unique and diverse portfolio of work is the key to landing paid gigs.

Along with a variety of work, you should create one solid demo reel that potential clients can watch if they’re under a time constraint. When hiring for creative gigs such as a video editor, most people will watch the demo reel first and then decide if it’s worth it to start watching the individual work on your portfolio.

Tips for Creating a Demo Reel

  • Keep it under three minutes, or else the viewer will get bored.

  • Show a lot of variety in the different kinds of videos you edit (unless you’re a niche editor, ie: music video editor).

  • Use a fast-paced and edgy background song.

  • Really try to showcase any unique editing sequence you’ve done.

Building a personal website to host your portfolio is always the most professional option, but many video editors also host their work on video-sharing platforms like YouTube and Vimeo, which they then link to a portfolio or resume document.

10: Networking

Like always, networking will be a key step to getting to your dream career. You never know who might be able to help you land an opportunity!

Especially in Hollywood, “who you know” is everything.

Professional projects aren’t posting video editing jobs on common job forum sites. They go by word of mouth and ask people they know if there are any great video editors they recommend.

You can meet all types of people by attending workshops, seminars, and industry events. Do some quick research on ‘Video editing events near me’ and see what pops up!

Another great resource is online forums and video editing communities. There are some great Facebook groups just for professional video editors.

And don’t overlook internships at your favorite production companies or post-pro houses. While most of these might be unpaid, they can lead to significant job opportunities that you couldn’t find otherwise. If you’re a student or in the position to take on an unpaid internship, now is the time to do it. You never know what kind of mentorship you may find from it.

11: Keep Up with Industry Trends

drone footage editing

No one wants to hire the 60-year-old video editor who hasn’t heard of a whip pan. It’s essential to keep up with industry trends and stay current on what’s relevant.

With all the new content and platforms, there are always new styles and trends in editing and motion graphics. Watch your favorite content creators’ latest YouTube and TikTok videos to see what their editors are doing.

There are even dozens of niches you can get into, like drone footage editing, 3D editing, or VR. And, who knows what kind of editing styles the future will bring!

It’s an ever-evolving industry, and the explosion of the video editing field is just beginning!

Final Thoughts

So how about it? Do you still want to become a video editor? With video content at an all-time high, more and more companies and individuals are turning to video – and they’re all hiring editors!

Video editors work hard to hone their craft and keep up with industry trends. It isn’t just a side hustle that you can pick up in a week to make a few extra bucks. It’s a lifelong skill you need to learn and nourish to become one of the industry professionals.

If you love visual storytelling and editing videos, then this may just be the career for you.

So what are you waiting for? Get off this page and start learning about how to become the next best storyteller – only then can you really learn how to become a video editor.

Common Questions (FAQs)

Do I need a degree to be a video editor?

No. You do not need any formal education or a bachelor’s degree to be a video editor. While it may help you meet some peers that lead to connections later on, you can learn video editing techniques at home or at school.

How much do video editors make?

The average salary of a video editor in the United States in 2023 is $53,401 (Source: Glassdoor).

Is it hard to be a video editor?

Becoming a professional video editor is not hard once you gain experience and learn the core video editing skills. The job market is full of opportunities, and it just takes dedication to your craft to perfect your visual skills.

What are some great video editing courses online?

You can always watch free YouTube videos on video editing and take courses from the software themselves, such as Adobe. There are also some great video editing courses at Skillshare.

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