When people think of film, they first think of stars, and then maybe directors. But the films we see -- whether it's a blockbuster in theaters or a training video at work -- all require the contributions of professionals, some who may have even graduated from a trade school for film.
Film school students may graduate with either a bachelor's or associate degree and the desire and drive to find work as a video editor, camera operator or any one of a range of jobs required to produce a quality product. Some may find work in the entertainment industry, although videographers and filmmakers are employed in other industries including the news media and colleges and universities.
Film production career options
Students of film trade schools may wish to become qualified for a number of pursuits, including:
- documentary filmmaking
- editing and visual effects
- screenwriting and script development
- cinematography, studio camera operation or videography
Trade school film curricula may include classes in graphic design, game art and design, screenwriting, and digital film and video production. A trade school for film may offer different levels of study, from four-year degrees to two-year associate degrees and shorter programs that prepare graduates to become technicians or assistants to directors and cinematographers.
Salary and job outlook for careers in film
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov), the national median annual wage for film and video editors as of May 2013 was $54,490, while the national median annual wage for a camera operator was $42,530. The motion picture and video industries employs the lion's share of film and video editors, followed by radio and television. The highest salaries are in motion pictures, where the national mean annual salary for editors was $76,230 in May 2013, according to the BLS.
To reach this salary level, film editors may have to work in either New York or California, where the mean salaries are the highest in the country. The District of Columbia, Virginia and New Jersey are also higher-paying states for film and video editors. Texas, Florida and Utah join New York and California in offering the highest concentration of jobs for film and video editors.
According to the BLS, national mean annual wages in May 2013 for some film and video careers include:
- Producers and directors, motion pictures and video industry. $109,470
- Producers and directors, television. $69,330
- Camera operators, TV, video and motion picture. $60,190
- Film and video editors, television. $48,790
While the opportunities to make a big-budget Hollywood movie may be rare, the chance to work in film in a variety of settings and capacities for graduates of film trade schools may not.
Camera Operators, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes274031.htm
Film and Video Editors, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes274032.htm
Film and Video Editors, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/film-and-video-editors-and-camera-operators.htm
Producers and Directors, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes272012.htm
Producers and Directors, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/producers-and-directors.htm