Learning video editing is much like learning to paint. It doesn’t take much to learn how to use the tools, and it certainly doesn’t take considerable time, effort and years of practice to become a professional, and to master the craft.

Learning the basics can be done in a week or even a day if you are a quick learner and highly motivated, but in order to master the craft you will need to likely spend a year or even several to do so. 

And even if you have the craft “mastered” there are always new tools and techniques and software to learn, so the process is not one that has a definite end, but more of a continual and infinite expansion.

Key Takeaways

  • Video editing is a complex and intricate process and one that takes considerable time to master.
  • The basics for video editing in a given software can be learned in a relatively short time span thankfully, despite the overall complexity of the craft itself.
  • The process for learning and mastering video editing never really ends, but can be one extends infinitely.
  • You don’t need “formal” training to become a video editor, but it can certainly help you to become an expert in your field, and ultimately net bigger/better clients and edit rates.

What Should I Learn First?

I’m of the opinion that direct immersion and diving is the best way to learn, so the first step would be to get your hands on some footage, and download some video editing software if you haven’t already.

If you don’t have any footage, there are plenty of stock footage sites that exist where you can download watermarked footage in various resolutions and experiment with (pond5.com, and shutterstock.com to name a few). 

And if you don’t have any editing software yet, most publishers have free trials of their software, but others like DaVinci Resolve can even be had for free (which is mindblowing given that it is Hollywood-grade software that many of the films you see on the big screen are colored graded with).

Once you have footage and your editing software set up, it may be a good idea to head to youtube for some free educational videos or search our Tutorials section on your chosen software. It’s a good idea to search for your specific software build and version when doing so, as the tutorials online can be outdated (especially if they are older). It would be no help at all if you are trying to learn an old software build when using the most recent version of the software, right?

Be sure to follow along with the host of the video so that you can begin to get familiar with the interface and start to develop some general awareness of how the software operates, as well as develop some muscle memory which will help you greatly as you progress through the learning process. 

In a few days’ time, and after you’ve exhausted all of the introductory walkthroughs and guides you can find on YouTube and elsewhere, you should be feeling comfortable enough to say you are a novice editor, or at least know whether or not video editing is for you. 

Is it Hard to Learn Video Editing?

It can be quite frustrating, especially in the beginning stages of learning a new skill like video editing. There are so many buttons, windows, settings and more to learn and one can easily become overwhelmed. However, persistence and practice are essential if you want to truly learn the skill. 

It isn’t exactly hard to learn video editing, but it will certainly take a considerable amount of time to do so to the point where you are feeling proficient and fully comfortable with the software and all of its various features and functions. 

The hardest part of video editing is mastering the craft and becoming faster and more efficient in all of your editorial tasks, and ultimately cultivating and honing your intuitive edge. As stated before the software and capabilities are constantly changing, and can even throw seasoned professionals for a loop at times, especially when there is a massive redesign of the software. 

If you wish to master the skill and art of video editing, it’s important that you love learning in general as well as troubleshooting and puzzle solving, as you will be doing this constantly, no matter how long you have been editing. 

It isn’t for everyone, but there are few feelings that are as rewarding as watching something you are editing fall into place perfectly, and nothing compares to the feeling of thrilling an audience, no matter the size with something you have edited. It is sheer magic. 

Where Can I Learn Video Editing?

As stated above, Youtube is an excellent and free resource for educational videos on all manner of editing software, and for any query you can imagine, from basic overviews to highly specific glitch fixes. 

There are also incredible paid resources available too, whether you wish to do so via a subscription service, an online course, or even an in-person course. 

Lastly, you can certainly opt for the more formal route in film school or through a university curriculum geared towards editing, but know that this route will not only be the longest route possible, but is also the most expensive route by comparison. 

There is no substitute for such learning, and there is much to be said for going this route, as many of the industry’s top creatives have done so, but it is still important to note that it is not required to become a professional editor, or necessary for you to master the craft.

How Long Will it Take to Become a Professional Video Editor?

In order to become a bona fide professional video editor, you should expect to spend at least a few years honing your craft, and mastering every aspect of the editing process and software. 

You can certainly attempt to join the professional world before you are ready, but understand that professional editing can be extremely difficult and challenging, and if you are not up to the challenge and task at hand, you will be unceremoniously and unequivocally dropped from any company that discovers you are not a professional video editor, if you can even get hired. 

The job market for video editors is extremely competitive and brutally cutthroat. You must know this and be prepared to be rejected 99 out of 100 times even after you have proven yourself to be a master video editor. 

This is simply the way of the world these days, as the craft has become more accessible due to free learning and free software, so the barrier of entry is far lower now than it has ever been. This is great to learn and have uniform access to the tools and trade, but makes for an exceptionally saturated market of video editors all vying for the same jobs and edits. 

The short answer? It may well take a decade to become a professional video editor, or it may only take a few years. It all depends on how you are defining “professional” and whether you are skilled and fortunate enough to make the right connections at the right time and get your foot in the door, and be seen. 


Here are some other questions you might have about the time and effort it takes to learn video editing.

Can I Be a Video Editor without a Degree or Certification?

Absolutely. There is no set requirement or prerequisite certifications or degrees for being a video editor.

How do I Get a Career in Video Editing?

There is sadly no guarantee that you can land the video editing job of your dreams. I wish there were, but I can’t in good conscience advise you or assure this is true. As stated above, it can be brutal and insanely difficult to land a career in video editing. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible either, you simply have to work tirelessly and be doggedly persistent and be sure to network extensively with fellow editors, directors, cinematographers and really anyone in film/tv. This will maximize your chances of “breaking in” to the industry and hopefully getting your foot in the door, and beginning a career in video editing.

Is There Free Video Editing Software Available?

Not only is there free video editing software available, it is legitimately professional software and is used by so many films the world over. I’m talking about Davinci Resolve, and if you aren’t jumping at the chance to download this Hollywood-grade software for free and learn, you’d be silly not to. I would have died to have access to this software when I was growing up and learning the craft, and now it’s free for all. Get it. Learn it. Now. 

Final Thoughts

Learning the art of video editing can be done with relative ease, and largely for free too. Though, to master the craft and become a career professional is another thing entirely. 

While it may take several years, or longer, to become a genuine professional in the video editing field, it is certainly possible to do so, it really is just a matter of time and effort. 

It takes just a short amount of time to learn the basics, but doing so can lead to a lifetime of learning, fun, and creativity, and if you’re lucky, a wonderfully rewarding career.

As always, please let us know your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below. How long did it take you to learn the basics of video editing? Do you think it’s better to learn how to edit for free, or through formal courses?