Whether you’re a video editor looking to figure out how much to charge for a project, or you have raw footage and are looking to hire someone to edit it, video editing rates usually cost between $50–$150 an hour. Video editor costs depend on whether it’s a permanent or freelance job, pay type, the editor’s experience and ability, and project size and scope.
Video editing is a postproduction process that entails:
- Compiling footage
- Adding audio to video
- Clipping, attaching, and organizing videos to create a compelling narrative
- Making a rough video cut
- Responding to feedback for the final cut and ensuring it meets the needs and expectations of the client
Permanent or freelance
Larger companies with long-term video editing needs may hire video editors as salaried employees. This means there is a steady stream of work, a stable paycheck, and full-time employee benefits—but also a fixed schedule and little project control (you edit what your boss tells you to edit). According to GlassDoor, as of January 2023, the average salary for a video editor is $54,911, with a range from $35,000 to $88,000, depending on the company. Alternatively, smaller companies, startups, individual clients, and film studios usually hire video editors as freelancers. Freelancing lets the video editor work flexibly and choose their projects while giving clients a wider range of talent and more lenient use of their budget.
Freelance video editing rates can vary by type.
- Per hour: Hourly rates vary depending on experience, project scope, and more. Upwork categorizes freelance pay scales into beginner, intermediate, and professional.
- Beginners: $20–$45
- Intermediate/advanced: $45–$100
- Professional editors and producers: $60–$100
According to Salary.com, the median hourly rate is $41, with rates between $27 and $61.
- Per day: Per diem rates are often used for short projects but may cause timing issues for larger projects.
- Fixed rate: Fixed rates usually entail exchanging a lump sum upon completion of the project. This pay type is often used for larger and longer projects.
Although even a beginner editor may be talented, most clients want to see previous client work and recommendations. Without these, it’s hard to justify a higher pay rate. For clients with a smaller budget and project, such as a short YouTube video, a video editor with less experience can work.
Editors with more experience often have more advanced skills—and charge higher rates. Those who need more in-depth video editing should look for video editors with a robust client list and professional portfolio of work.
What sets a good editor apart from a great editor is their ability to take raw footage and create an amazing end product. Whether it’s an emotional story or a hilarious advertisement, a great editor understands that timing is key. For the best end product, clients should look for editors whose work aligns with their needs. For example, if your video requires animation editing, look for an editor with extensive experience editing animated videos.
Size and type of project
Across video types, knowing the scope of raw footage and the desired finished product is extremely important. A client might have 200 hours of footage that they want distilled into a 20-minute video, meaning a lot of time just sifting through footage to see what’s usable. Knowing the size and type of project helps dictate its pay scale. Here are some of the more popular projects and their usual rates:
- Weddings and events: People crave beautifully edited video footage of all sorts of milestone events. The starting pay rate for wedding and event video editors is around $20/hour but can go up to $200/hour or more depending on the editor’s experience and abilities.
- Commercials and branded storytelling: According to the Blue Collar Post Collective (BCPC), the breakdown of pay rates for freelance commercial and branded storytelling editors is:
- Hourly rate: $20–$500; average hourly rate: $83
- Day rate: $175–$2,000; average day rate: $771
- Documentaries: Documentaries pay rates vary greatly. Some editors may work at a much lower rate for documentaries they see as passion projects or that focus on topics they value deeply. The BCPC shows documentary video editing rates as:
- Hourly rate: $55–$150; average hourly rate: $87
- Day rate: $325–$1,500; average day rate: $692
- Weekly rate: $500–$5,000; average weekly rate: $3,597
- Episodic programs: Rates for TV show editing are more standardized due to union regulations. General rates according to the BCPC are:
- Hourly rate: $42–$150; average hourly rate: $89
- Day rate: $475–$1,100; average day rate: $763
- Weekly rate: $2,000–$7,000; average weekly rate: $4,250
- Scripted features: Editors working on scripted features will likely be part of the Motion Pictures Editors Guild, which regulates contracts and rates. According to ZipRecruiter, as of December 2022, the average annual pay for a film video editor in the United States is $54,055 a year. As per the BCPC, editing rates for scripted features are:
- Hourly rate: $32–$75; average hourly rate: $52
- Day rate: $600–$3,000; average day rate: $1,160
- Weekly rate: $900–$20,000; average rate: $4,728
Since rates vary depending on multiple factors, consider these questions when choosing to hire a video editor.
- Is it a permanent hire or freelance job? While most of this article covers freelance editors, plenty of video editors work for marketing companies or in-house editorial teams for larger companies.
- Will the pay be determined per hour, per day, or at a fixed rate? Different projects require different rates of pay. A 10-minute YouTube video probably wouldn’t warrant a fixed weekly rate (though it could!) and an episodic TV show with regular, steady work might not benefit from an hourly rate.
- How much experience does the video editor have? What abilities does the project require? Beginner video editors will charge less but offer less experience. Those seeking video editors should carefully weigh their needs and their budget to find a suitable fit. Consider what services you require, including color correcting, graphics, and text overlays.
- What is the size and type of the project? Editing a wedding or bat mitzvah video will generally have different parameters than editing a television show or feature film. Whatever the size or type of project, knowing its normative editing rates helps determine how much of a budget it requires.
When communicating about a video editing project, it’s important to get as much information about the project or video editor as possible. Ask questions and be clear about which method of payment is preferred, what’s included with the pay rate (such as revisions), and expected deadlines.