15 Jobs You Can Get With a Film Degree

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published February 15, 2021

Film majors usually choose that degree path because they desire a career in film where they have the opportunity to write or produce stories for an audience. However, there are also other positions that film majors may qualify for and be interested in, such as camera operator and production editor. As a film major, the courses you take can help you develop your skill set and give you the experience you need to find success in the industry.

In this article, we describe what a film major is, provide a list of jobs for film majors, share where you may find work as a film major and offer a list of skills that can prepare you for employment in the industry.

Related: 30 Best Pieces of Career Advice No One Ever Told You

What is a film major?

A film major is a student at a college or university who studies film and television production and the process of media programming. It's common for students to work both independently and with classmates to complete larger projects, like an entire film production that may include ideation, script writing and other film production tasks. During college courses, students learn more about film history, the theory of film and how to build the skills they'll need, like creativity and writing, to succeed in the industry.

Film majors may expect to take courses such as:

  • Film history

  • Cinematography

  • Screenwriting/playwriting

  • Film editing

  • Sound production

  • Cinematic production

  • Film theory

  • Film criticism

  • Independent film

  • Color enhancement

  • Lighting

  • Animation

  • Visual effects

Practical experience in the film industry begins while studying film in college. You may join a student-led club that provides you with the opportunity to film and produce small-scale content for platforms like social media or to create content for school advertising, social events and other campus highlights. Along with their coursework, many film majors find freelance or volunteer opportunities where they can take on independent filming projects.

Related: 14 Career Advice Tips for College Students

15 popular jobs for film majors

If you're currently in school as a film major or have recently graduated with your degree in film, here are some jobs in the industry you may be interested in:

1. Film crew

National average salary: $25,025 per year

Primary duties: A film crew member is responsible for creating and maintaining the rigging that holds lighting and camera and sound equipment. They work closely with the chief lighting technicians and cinematographers, develop set designs to meet the expectations of the film's director and develop rigging plans to prepare the necessary equipment for the filming process.

2. Camera operator

National average salary: $32,494 per year

Primary duties: A camera operator works for the cinematographer and alongside the chief lighting technician and the grip team. They operate the cameras during filming and ensure they capture the scene, following the instructions of the director on set.

3. Music director

National average salary: $33,776 per year

Primary duties: A music director hires musicians, manages the music budget and designs the musical compositions throughout the film. They also compose the film's musical score and conduct rehearsals to make sure everyone is prepared for their part in the production.

4. Media researcher

National average salary: $35,493 per year

Primary duties: A media researcher performs research on production staff, time periods and filming locations, among other details, as needed by the producer or director. They may need to determine the historical accuracy of costumes and scenes or locate film contributors, primary resources and other related content for documentaries. Media researchers commonly use social media, public forums and other media to collect information for programming.

5. Multimedia illustrator

National average salary: $41,862 per year

Primary duties: Multimedia illustrators produce original designs, both in 2D and 3D imaging, and often using computer generation software. They work with production managers to develop the direction of the design and conceptualize storyboards that they'll use to guide their designs.

6. Film producer

National average salary: $42,336 per year

Primary duties: A film producer oversees an entire film production. They choose scripts, secure financing, hire and manage cast and crew, assign responsibilities and coordinate the various parts of film production, including writing and directing. Film producers also manage a budget, oversee editing and develop strategies for marketing the project to an intended audience.

7. Film editor

National average salary: $43,513 per year

Primary duties: A film editor edits raw footage of films, using the original vision of the film project as guidance. They may need to adjust sound, dialogue, special effects and any graphics, and they often work with assistant editors for larger projects.

8. Production planner

National average salary: $44,981 per year

Primary duties: The production planner develops a shooting schedule that considers any restrictions from crew or specific locations where they'll be filming. They organize transportation, book accommodations and acquire any necessary travel credentials or documentation for traveling to film locations. Production planners also supervise production assistants.

9. Cinematographer

National average salary: $47,257 per year

Primary duties: A cinematographer oversees all visual aspects of a film. They create the look, mood, tone, lighting and framing of each scene and supervise the lighting technicians and camera operators to ensure scenes are artistically and visually accurate. Cinematographers also work with the director to make critical decisions about camera placement, movement and aspect ratio.

10. Location manager

National average salary: $52,297 per year

Primary duties: A location manager finds and reserves locations for filming. They negotiate contracts, obtain permits and provide locals with any necessary details about filming, like any streets that will close down or how long production will be in the area.

11. Lighting technician

National average salary: $52,560 per year

Primary duties: A lighting technician, or gaffer, is responsible for all lighting and lighting equipment associated with a film. They design the lighting based on the script, program lights, operate lighting equipment to highlight a certain part of the scene and frequently consult with the director to ensure the lighting they use meets the film's needs.

12. Broadcast presenter

National average salary: $55,453 per year

Primary duties: A broadcast presenter presents the news or other programs to a television audience. They write scripts, read from a teleprompter, offer commentary on the content they're covering and meet with producers to establish any goals of the broadcast. Broadcast presenters also perform research on the stories they're sharing and interview guests.

13. Associate producer

National average salary: $56,182 per year

Primary duties: An associate producer is responsible for writing scripts, selecting shots during production and post-production and booking television appearances. They also submit contracts to talent, help scout locations, hand out scripts and manage any issues with the crew.

14. Screenwriter

National average salary: $60,831 per year

Primary duties: A screenwriter creates the dialogue, characters and storyline of television productions or films. They present screenplays and ideas to film executives, develop stories into scripts and work with producers and directors on making script revisions.

15. Film director

National average salary: $96,441 per year

Primary duties: A film director establishes the creative vision of a project. They develop staging and set design, guide the cast in their roles, hire important crew members, choose the filming style and oversee post-production editing.

Typical employers of film majors

If you're looking for a new career as a film major, here are some types of employers that hire individuals with similar education:

  • Broadcast networks

  • Movie theaters

  • Advertising or marketing agencies

  • Public relations companies

  • Production companies, both large-scale and smaller independent ones

  • Newspapers

  • Digital content firms

  • Event companies

  • Market research agencies

  • Higher education institutions

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Skills for a film major job

Here are some skills that can help you secure a position that utilizes your degree:

  • Communication skills: Communication skills include reading, writing, speaking and listening to ensure clear communication and collaboration with coworkers. Communication is important on any production set, as it's common for many people to work together on a project.

  • Research skills: Research is completing tasks such as fact-checking and editing content to meet the expectations of directors, producers and editors. Your research skills can enhance the accuracy of the production.

  • Flexibility: The film industry often requires flexibility throughout all positions within the production and support teams. With flexibility, you gain the ability to adapt to changes in the script, your work environment and your responsibilities.

  • Authorship and adaptable writing skills: Authorship is the ability to write content that has a purpose and focus to a specific audience. When you have adaptable writing skills, you're better able to adjust, revise and redirect the writing to fit the context, environment, tone and mood desired by the producers and directors of the film.

  • Self-discipline: Working independently and in teams requires self-discipline and the ability to develop creative ideas and concepts on your own.

  • Leadership: Leadership is the ability to lead others by example. If there are multiple crew members who rely on your work and guidance to complete their part of the project, your leadership skills can keep a project on the established timeline and motivate those you work with.

  • Creativity and innovation: Creativity and innovation are important skills to have if you want to work in the film industry because it's an inherently creative field. You may need to do things like share your script ideas or manage a creative aspect of production.

  • Commitment: Because productions may operate outside of normal business hours, commitment from each person involved with the project is beneficial. Your commitment can help a project stay on its timeline and budget.

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Should I earn a postgraduate degree?

Choosing to earn a postgraduate degree will likely depend on the career path you're most interested in. While there are several positions in the industry that you can qualify for with a bachelor's degree in film, there are others, like teaching, that may require a master's or other graduate certification. A Master of Fine Arts degree also provides hands-on experience with directing, writing and other film-related roles, and allows you to work closely with established professionals in the field. Higher-level degrees can help you stand out among other candidates who are applying for the same positions.

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