Climb the Ladder

What Does a Video Editor Do?

Video editors discuss what the job entails and what skills are needed

Marrying video clips, cool sound effects and cooler graphics sounds like one of the coolest jobs ever. No wonder you’re itching to be a video editor. We got a couple video editors to tell you all about the job. Take a look at what they had to say and then get scratching.

What exactly does a video editor do?

A video editor uses footage, sound and graphics to tell a story. A typical day in the life may include creating treatments and storyboards; developing scripts; producing and editing videos and photos for multiple platforms, from short-form daily content for social media platforms to long-form series; and sourcing and/or creating and adding graphics, animations, special effects, music, sound effects and sound bites.

A video editor also makes decisions about maximizing the content’s value online and helps align the final version of the piece to the appropriate distribution platform, says Elizabeth Giorgi, founder and CEO of internet video production company Mighteor. Audience development and working with members of other departments or an editorial team to ensure consistent and comprehensive content may also be part of the daily grind.

“It is my job to turn raw footage shot by a photographer into a compelling video,” says David Abrams, an auto test video editor/photographer at Consumer Reports. Though you may work with a producer or use a script to guide you, the overall tone of each piece is in the editor’s hands, says Abrams, so whether or not a video accomplishes its goals is often decided in the editing suite.

What skills does a video editor need?

“Storytelling is the number one skill a video editor must have,” says Abrams, noting you must see the video through the eyes of your audience and consider how your edits affect the story you’re telling.

Knowledge of editing tools such as Apple’s Final Cut Pro or Adobe’s Premiere Pro is key, says Abrams, who suggests taking a course or subscribing to a teaching site such as to develop your skill set.

Adds Giorgi, “Experience with After Effects, color grading and sound software, as well as the latest in mobile, will make you an invaluable asset.”
Attention to detail and the ability to think laterally and visually are also important.

Who is a video editor’s supervisor?

A video editor at a start-up may report to the CEO, while a video editor at a larger company may report to the digital content editor.

How do I get ahead in this position?

Stay abreast of the latest and greatest in technology and digital trends, and never stop honing your editing skills—this includes learning and adapting to new tools.

How can someone break into this field?

Broadcast journalism programs “teach all the basics as well as the guts of storytelling,” says Giorgi. But, if college isn’t your cup of tea—hey, everything isn’t for everybody—don’t count yourself out. If you can get your hands on a computer and editing software, you’re good to go.

“This field tends to value experience over formal education,” adds Abrams. “Your ability to edit and tell stories is far more valuable than [a] degree hanging on your wall.”

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