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How to Become a Film and Video Editor or Camera Operator

Camera operators typically need a bachelor’s degree and some on-the-job training. Most film editors have a bachelor’s degree and several years of experience as an assistant to a film editor.


Most camera operator and editor positions require a bachelor’s degree in a field related to film or broadcasting. Many colleges offer courses in camera operation or video editing software.

Camera operators must have an understanding of digital cameras and computer technology, because both are now used on film sets. Most editing is now done digitally, so film and video editors should have experience with different types of video editing software. Most editors eventually specialize in one type of software, but beginners should be familiar with as many as possible.


On movie sets, many camera operators start out as a production assistant for the camera department to learn how film production works. Production assistants typically run errands or do simple tasks for operators. With some moderate on-the-job training production assistants can become camera assistants and, eventually, operators.

In broadcasting, operators also begin as an assistant and work their way up to operator. Operators typically start out working for a small TV station or on a small movie set. As they become more experienced, they move on to larger productions.

Work Experience

Most film editors have had several years of experience in related jobs before they are given an opportunity as an editor. They normally start out as an edit room assistant, taking notes or doing other simple tasks for an editor, before becoming an assistant editor. After several years of learning about editing as an assistant, they may be given an opportunity as an editor.

Like camera operators, editors typically start out on small productions and move on to bigger and more expensive ones as they gain experience.


Some camera operators or editors become producers or directors. For more information, see the profile on producers and directors.

Important Qualities

Creativity. Camera operators and editors should be able to imagine what the result of their filming or editing will look like to an audience.

Detail oriented. Editors look at every frame of film and decide what should be kept and what should be cut to make the best production.

Hand–eye coordination. In the field, camera operators need to be able to move about the action while holding a camera steady.

Technical skills. Camera operators must understand the high-end cameras they use. Editors must know how to use many features of sophisticated editing software.

Visual skills. Camera operators must be able to see clearly what they are filming.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition