Careers in Film: 17 Jobs that Could Suit You!

Are you looking for a career in film, but have no idea where to start? Or, do you already have a job in the film industry but searching for a new opportunity? That’s fine, because there are a lot of different careers in film and it’s hard to get an overview. In this article, we’re gonna dive deep into the job opportunities available in the film industry.

Films aren’t only produced for cinema or TV shows, but also for advertising. From my personal experience I can tell that it’s a pretty big business. Many users of our software Filestage work in film, but are specialized on ads and tv commercials.

Based on salary and the amount of existing jobs, we’ll separate the film industry into 1) motion pictures, 2) advertising and 3) TV. For some careers data is only available for one category. But this does not mean that this job isn’t available in other categories as well. The statistics are provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Therefore, they are only proper for the U.S. but the figures are still useful as indicators for the job market in the film industry worldwide.

Fim Careers: An Overview of Jobs in the Movie Industry

>Screenwriter / Author
>Producer
>Director
>Actor / Actress
>Director of Photography
>Costume Designer
>Location Manager
>Makeup Artist
>Set Decorator
>Prop Master
>Key Grip
>Gaffer
>Editor
>Sound Designer
>VFX Artist
>Composer
>Alternative Careers in Film

How necessary each one of these positions is depends on the type and the size of the production. For a large production you may need a 3rd location manager’s assistant. For a small corporate movie, one person may serve as the screenwriter, the producer and the director.

Sign Up for Exclusive Filmmaking Guides and Tips

Get templates, expert guides and infographics, delivered straight to your inbox. Free!

I agree with Filestage's data processing policy.

Screenwriter / Author

Screenwriter / Author

Did you ever wonder who came up with the idea for a film? Every film needs a script and a screenwriter writes that script. It is common for the screenwriter to also take the role of the director.
Pros: It is one of the most creative jobs in the industry. You are the brain behind the film and you will get recognition for that.
Cons: You have to be a really talented screenwriter to get attention from production companies. Most scripts that are submitted are never even properly looked at.
Special Training: Not necessary. While it may be helpful to have a degree in screenwriting, journalism or literature, it is definitely not a prerequisite. The production company doesn’t care about your education, they care about the quality of your script. So what you really need is exceptional literary talent.
Annual mean wage: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the annual mean wage of writers and authors is $67,870. On the other hand, if you were to write the script for a big Hollywood production firm, you might earn millions of dollars.
How many jobs: Motion Picture: 2,890, Advertising: 7,140, TV: 2,120.
Alternative jobs in the same area: Story Editor, Script Reader, Researcher
Most common work situation: Freelancer

In case you want to learn more about screenwriting and storytelling you should check this guide: How to Write a Storyboard

Expert Quote

If you are a writer – you observe people around you very carefully. Small details others would not notice. They are curious by nature. Screenwriters in specific should have the ability to paint a scene and atmosphere with just a few words. There is only limited space and you need to pick the right words to give the reader the feeling of the scene.

Jeannine Hegelbach, Screenwriter at Kolibrifilms

Producer

Producer

What the manager or COO is for a software company, is the producer for a film production. He assures that everyone and everything is where it needs to be to make the film happen.

Pros: You definitely won’t get bored and the salary is above average.
Cons: You’ll need to be somewhat stress-resistant.
Special Training: Some universities offer courses in film production. These courses teach skills like pitching, shooting, schedule design and budgeting.
Annual mean wage: Motion Picture: $106,440, Advertising: $109,780, TV: $73,230.
How many jobs: Motion Picture: 34,250, Advertising: 6,880, TV: 24,730.
Alternative jobs in the same area: Co-Producer, Production Manager/Coordinator
Most common work situation: Full-time employee

Director

Director

Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Peter Jackson, Christopher Nolan – these guys direct Hollywood movies. A director handles the creative execution of the script and he or she will be the one who gets most of the glory and criticism for the film.

Pros: If you have a passion for filmmaking, you’ll love this job.
Cons: You are always under great pressure, because you have to motivate people, stay on budget and manage the expectations of investors.
Special Training: You don’t need an academic education to become a director. The most important part is practical experience, so directing short films or small productions might be a good start.
Annual mean wage: Motion Picture: $106,440, Advertising: $109,780, TV: $73,230.
How many jobs: Motion Picture: 34,250, Advertising: 6,880, TV: 24,730. (The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t differentiate between producers and directors.)
Alternative jobs in the same area: Script Supervisor, Production Assistant
Most common work situation: Full-time employee

Actor/ Actress

Actor

Actors bring the script to life. They embody the characters and are the public face of the work that went into the production.

Pros: You will get a lot of attention depending on the success of the production.
Cons: It’s not a secure job with a fixed income and there is a lot of competition for roles in film productions.
Special Training: Most actors have been through professional training before starting to act in film productions. The optimal way is to start at a young age and take part in drama and theater classes in school.
Annual mean wage: Actors usually don’t work consistently and the wage is highly dependent on the production. Therefore, it’s more reasonable to state the wage per hour.
Hourly mean wage: Motion Picture: $40.85, Advertising: $37.69.
How many jobs: Motion Picture: 32,560.
Alternative jobs in the same area: Background Actor
Most common work situation: Freelancer

Director of Photography

Director of Photography

The DP is responsible for the camera and the visual appearance of the film.

Pros: The career is extremely creative. You are responsible for the look and feel of the movie.
Cons: You may be subject to difficult, physical labor and you’ll have to work long or irregular hours. Also, you have to stay up to date on the technology.
Special Training: A degree in film, drama, media or art will provide a basic understanding of the artform. Studying still photography will give you a profound background in lighting and composition. It isn’t common to get this job without an formal education, but when you have a lot of practical experience and passion, it is certainly possible.
Annual mean wage: Motion Picture: $63,460, TV: $46,280.
How many jobs: Motion Picture: 7,760, TV: 5,540.
Alternative jobs in the same area: Camera Operator, Cinematographer, Camera Assistant
Most common work situation: Full-time employee

Costume Designer

Costume Designer

The costumer designer creates the clothes the actors will wear.

Pros: The creativity level and the creative freedom is high.
Cons: Usually, the paycheck is low.
Special Training: You will need a degree in fashion, theatre design, costume design or a similar subject.
Annual mean wage: The BLS doesn’t provide information on costume designers for the film industry. The annual mean wage for fashion designers in general is $73,690. The website creativeskillset.org indicates that a senior costume designer may earn $35,000 a year.
How many jobs: Motion Picture: 1,040.
Alternative jobs in the same area: Costume Buyer, Performer’s Dresser, Coordinator
Most common work situation: Freelancer

Location Manager

Location Manager

Location managers have to find the best scene locations and negotiate permissions with owners. They also manage aspects like catering requirements, safety, parking and power sources.

Pros: Scouting for locations can be fun and the work is flexible and interesting.
Cons: You are usually the first person to arrive on set and the last person who leaves it. Also, the salary depends on the production. A fixed income isn’t common for location managers.
Special Training: You don’t need a qualification, but courses in security and negotiation are a great plus.
Annual mean wage: No information from the BLS.
How many jobs: No information from the BLS.
Alternative jobs in the same area: Location Scout, Location Security
Most common work situation: Freelancer

Makeup Artist

Makeup Artist

The makeup artist makes sure that the actors look authentic in their roles. Their responsibilities are dependent on the requirements of the film. Maintaining the makeup continuity is especially important and the makeup artist needs to keep an eye on that.

Pros: Creativity, communication and keeping a positive attitude are all part of the job.
Cons: It can get stressful due to strict deadlines and physical exhaustion when the makeup requires many hours of work.
Special Training: You can take courses in media make-up or in similar subjects.
Annual mean wage: Motion Picture: $78,150.
How many jobs: Motion Picture: 1,430, TV: 90.
Alternative jobs in the same area: Hairstylist
Most common work situation: Freelancer

Prop Master

Prop Master

The prop master runs the property department. He makes sure that the props are made on deadline and that they are suitable for the film’s style.

Pros: If you are a creative person and have a passion for films, the work as a prop master will prove to be highly rewarding.
Cons: When you go in for the creative work aspect, remember that there is quite a lot of logistical work involved as well. Loading, the transportation, and the storage of the props are all part of your responsibilities.
Special Training: A special education is not required. A creative or artistic background will be helpful however.
Mean hourly wage: Motion Picture: $30,45.
How many jobs: Motion Picture: 2,400.
Alternative jobs in the same area: Prop Buyer, Prop Builder
Most common work situation: Freelancer

Set Decorator

Producer

The set decorator analyses the scripts and ensures that the sets look convincing. Decorations may include things like product placements, animals, vehicles and smaller items.

Pros: The work is versatile, creative and hands-on.
Cons: The job requires a sense of detail and in most cases you build extravagant decorations, which will only be shown once in the movie.
Special Training: You won’t need a formal education, but a degree in art or interior design will provide you with a good, basic skill-set for the career.
Annual mean wage: Motion Picture: $61,370, TV: $60,710.
How many jobs: Motion Picture: 2,230, TV: 710.
Alternative jobs in the same area: Set Buyer, Set Designer
Most common work situation: Freelancer

Key Grip

Key Grip

The key grip handles any equipment that supports the camera, from tripod to a 50 meter camera rail.

Pros: If you have a passion for finding original solutions for mechanical problems, the grip department is the right fit for you.
Cons: You need a lot of physical strength and stamina.
Special Training: You can take courses for grips, but a formal education isn’t required.
Annual mean wage: No information from the BLS.
How many jobs: No information from the BLS.
Alternative jobs in the same area: Dolly Grip, Best Boy Grip
Most common work situation: Full-time employee

Gaffer

Gaffer Film Industry

The gaffer is also called lighting technical or electrician. He ensures authentic-looking lighting in the scene and electrical security.

Pros: If you have a passion for equipment and electric technology, a career as a gaffer may turn out to be highly gratifying for you.
Cons: You need to be comfortable working at heights and the working hours can be unpredictable.
Special Training: You need to be qualified to work with electrical equipment. A degree in electrical engineering is extremely helpful.
Annual mean wage: No information from the BLS.
How many jobs: No information from the BLS.
Alternative jobs in the same area: Lamp Operator
Most common work situation: Full-time employee

Editor

Editor

Once the production part is done, the editors get to work. The editing team works closely with the director to make sure that the film turns out how he envisioned it.

Pros: The process of breaking down a huge amount of footage into a trimmed movie and the consistent visual input can be really satisfying.
Cons: Spending hours on perfecting a 3-second cut can get repetitive and exhausting.
Special Training: While it is possible to learn it by yourself (check out the post production part of our article on the top 50 video and film production blogs), it will be easier to get a job if you have a degree in video editing or similar subjects.
Annual mean wage: Motion Picture: $82,370, TV: $55,830.
How many jobs: Motion Picture: 17,210, TV: 2,640.
Alternative jobs in the same area: Assistant Editor, Titles Designer
Most common work situation: Full-time employee

In case you’re working as an editor you should have a look at Filestage. It’s a useful review and approval software that helps you to manage video and design reviews with clients and co-workers.

Sound Designer

Sound Designer

The sound designer handles the sound effects and the management of the sound post-production process.

Pros: For people who have a passion for music and sound, this may be a dream job. It’s certainly an easier and more secure career than becoming a singer or songwriter.
Cons: Working long hours is common considering the tight deadlines in film production.
Special Training: You’ll need a degree in music and sound recording to start a solid career in sound design.
Annual mean wage: Motion Picture: $75,180, TV: $52,690.
How many jobs: Motion Picture: 4,210, TV: 1,440.
Alternative jobs in the same area: Sound Mixer, Boom Operator, Cable Puller
Most common work situation: Full-time employee

Composer

Producer

The composer writes the music and directs the music production for the film.

Pros: Improvising, a passion for music and excellent hearing skills are part of this career. When you’ve got the skill-set, the level of creativity, originality and freedom in your job is rewardingly high.
Cons: There aren’t many jobs and it can be difficult to come up with an idea for the perfect soundtrack.
Special Training: You need talent to write music for films. An academic education is not required.
Annual mean wage: Independent Artists: $82,470, Advertising: $79,100.
How many jobs: Independent Artists: 340, Advertising: 30.
Alternative jobs in the same area: Orchestrator, Recording Engineer
Most common work situation: Freelancer

VFX Artist

VFX Artist

Creating explosions, fire and collapsing buildings are part of the work of an VFX artist. The VFX department handles the effects that couldn’t be filmed on set.

Pros: The end result is rewarding to watch for the creators. Also, VFX artists can spend their time creating the cool stuff that you dreamt about as a child.
Cons: You have to find a balance between perfecting the effect and being on deadline.
Special Training: A formal education isn’t required, because practical experience and a passion for special effects are more important for job entry. But, you can, of course, get a degree in visual effects.
Annual mean wage: The BLS term for this job is Multimedia Artists and Animators.
Motion Picture: $73,950, Advertising: $63,350.
How many jobs: Motion Picture: 8,560, Advertising: 2,980.
Alternative jobs in the same area: Technical Director, VFX Supervisor, Animator, Modeler
Most common work situation: Full-time employee

Alternative Careers in Film

If you still haven’t found the right career and you want to do something with films, don’t worry – there are plenty more things to do. Here are a few suggestions:

Film Critic: Cliches state that people who don’t make it as a screenwriter, and are bitter about it, write critiques of other people’s films. But if you have a passion for journalism, this could be the right career for you. Just remember: Watching a film and then writing about it, isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Film School Teacher: You like to share your knowledge and train people? Then becoming a film school teacher may be the right choice for you.

Studio Head: You are in the film business for the money and have plenty of it? You may want to consider becoming the head of a studio.

If you know about a career in film that isn’t mentioned here, please leave a comment and we’ll be glad to add it.

Bonus

The website creativeskillset.org provides more in-depth descriptions of careers in film. It is worth a visit if you need additional information.

In case you’re interested in TV commercials and social media ads, you should check  “The World’s 10 Best TV Commercials and Social Media Clips“. Our article provides great examples of TV commercials.

Excited about marketing and design. He loves to deconstruct expertise and find the 20% which accounts for 80% of the results.

Save one hour a day with Filestage

The easiest way to review videos, designs and documents.

Filestage Video