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Uncover Some of the Top Careers in the Motion Picture & Video Industry

For some people, watching movies is a fun pastime and nothing more. For others, a film is a window into another world, and it is something that would make an incredible career. Thankfully, there are a variety of different careers within the film and video industry.

Quick Facts: Acting Industry
Median Pay:   $36,170 per year | $17 per hour
Entry-Level Education:   Bachelor's degree
Work Experience:   Less than 5 years
Number of Jobs, 2014:   52,000

Acting Occupations:

  • Agents and business managers of artists, performers, and athletes$64,200
  • Entertainers and performers, sports and related workers, all other$N/A
  • Makeup artists, theatrical and performance$44,310

Whether you feel most comfortable writing, directing, acting or anything in between, you can find employment that best utilizes your natural abilities and education. Discover more about some of these top careers in motion pictures as well as what each offers in terms of salary, job growth and more.

Film Editors

After a film has been shot, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. Film editors handle the task of cutting images to flow better for the viewer, and the work can be both long and solitary in some cases. However, film editors enjoy a level of control and creativity over the final product that may be desirable to you.

This career requires a vast knowledge of all areas of film and editing software, and a bachelor's degree may be necessary in a subject like film or broadcasting. Since most of the editing is done digitally in the film industry today, strong computing skills are also integral to success.

On average, film editors in the United States can expect to earn $46,280 as a median salary per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic, but job growth predictions are at a relatively low 3% over the next decade.

Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians

Since the 1930s, few films have been complete without sound. In order to record these sounds that make up such a big part of any film or television show, individuals need to set up, choose and maintain engineering and sound equipment.

These people are known as sound engineering technicians, and they often require extensive training in order to learn more about the various equipment and software used for each speaker and microphone. This training might be accomplished through an associate degree or even onsite training.

Typically, broadcast and sound engineers earn median salaries of $41,200, according to the BLS. Job growth predictions for this career over the next decade are strong, and the forecast increase in demand for trained sound engineering technicians is 9%.

Producers and Directors

Two of the careers most closely associated with film making is that of producer and director. While the positions are similar, there are still a few distinct differences.

Both careers handle casting, are in charge of filming and guide the project from the planning stage to release in theaters.

Producers specifically focus of the financial aspects of the film, which might include sticking to the budget or acquiring rights to a new song without overspending.

Directors are more creatively-focused, and they may work more directly with actors to help them express emotions and portray certain characters.

According to the BLS, the average salary for directors and producers was $71,350 as of 2012, but those in film rather than television earned an average of $94,110 each year. The job growth predictions for these careers is at 3%, which reflects the competitive nature of the industry once again.

Camera Operators

If you are interested in pursuing a career in the motion picture industry that doesn't require extensive educational training, then you may be interested in becoming a camera operator. This is one career where experience is the key factor in getting hired, and many people start out at the very bottom of the job ladder, work at low wages and then rise up slowly over time.

The job can include long shifts, and some camera equipment may be heavy, but it can be a great career choice for the right kind of candidate. The BLS reports that as of 2012, the median salary for camera operators in the United States was $49,010.


Perhaps one of the most competitive careers within the film industry is that of acting.

While many people have the desire to break into the field, the reality is that the competitive nature of acting, combined with the low average salaries for many, makes this unappealing for all but the most devoted individuals.

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not offer median salaries because salaried positions are so rare for actors, they do estimate hourly wages of $20 per hour. Actors may have training or a formal education, but that is not typically a requirement of hire.

Writers and Authors

A large part of the film industry includes writers and authors who come up with plots, craft the dialogue, turn a wonderful novel into a screenplay and even draft press releases relating to the film itself.

To become a successful writer in the film industry, it often takes a significant amount of experience as well as a bachelor's degree in a subject like communications, English or journalism.

The salary for a film writer can vary substantially depending on the budget for the movie, but the median salary for writers, according to the BLS, is $55,940. Since this is another very competitive field, job outlook is forecast at just 3% growth over the next decade.

This guide might showcase some of the most common careers in the film industry, but it is far from exhaustive. Thousands of different people might work on the set of a film, and it requires everything from security guards to casting agents to make the movie a success.

Experience and drive are important in this industry, but a degree in a related field might make you a more appealing hire in the future. Find out more about earning a communication arts degree.