How Much Does a Movie Critic Make?

Updated June 24, 2022

Choosing an area of study and eventually, a career requires a thoughtful review of several important elements like skill application, compensation and enjoyment. People interested in becoming a movie critic should consider salary among other factors. While movie critics' salaries vary widely depending on several factors, many people consider the work movie critics do to be extremely fun. In this article, we explain what a movie critic is, describe how much they make and clarify the factors that impact movie critics' salaries.

Related: How to Become a Movie Critic Step by Step

What is a movie critic?

A movie critic is a columnist or journalist who writes reviews of movies for the public. Some movie critics work for professional publications like newspapers, magazines or entertainment websites, while others are freelancers who work on contracts for companies or publish articles and content on their own.


Movie critics help people decide if it's worth the time and money to go see a movie in the theater or rent it at home. Most reviews include a short synopsis of the movie, the elements the critic enjoyed, the elements the critic did not enjoy and a rating. Often, movie critics will address the story, acting, direction, costuming and cinematography. The length and depth of the movie critic's review depends on the publication for which they write and their audience.


Many movie critics are professional journalists who write movie reviews in addition to other assignments for their publication. Journalists almost always have at least a bachelor's degree in a field like journalism, English or communications. Reviewing movies is a sought-after position, so competition can be high for movie critic positions in traditional print or online publications. Often, these jobs go to seasoned reporters or writers.

Career path

The internet makes it easy for any aspiring movie critic to post movie reviews online. However, if you're interested in becoming a movie critic with a stable salary, you might consider a traditional career path working for a print or online publication. First, earn a degree in journalism or a related field from an accredited college or university. Learn about filmmaking and watch a variety of movies. Apply for and accept an entry-level position with a newspaper, magazine or online publication. Work hard and build your reputation as a movie connoisseur and ask for movie critic assignments.

Related: How to Become a Freelance Writer in Nine Easy Steps

How much does a movie critic make?

Statistics on movie critics' salaries are not currently available. However, since most movie critics work as journalists, columnists or freelancers, salary information for those professions should give you a general idea of how much money movie critics make:


According to Indeed, journalists in the United States make $31,091 annually. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects journalism positions like reporters, correspondents and broadcast news analysts will decline by 10% between 2018 and 2028 due to the consolidation of print publications and lack of advertising opportunities for print publications.


Columnists make slightly more annually than journalists in the United States, with Indeed citing an average salary of $39,664 per year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics includes columnists in its journalism statistics, citing the same 10% decline in those positions between 2018 and 2028.

Freelance writers

Many movie critics work as freelancers, either self-publishing or writing individual pieces for print or online publications. Indeed states that the average annual salary for freelance writers in the United States is $46,281. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects no change in the job outlook for writers and authors between 2018 and 2028.

Related: 16 Jobs for Journalism Professionals

Factors that affect a movie critic's salary

Movie critics' salaries can vary widely depending on several factors. Consider these elements when determining your earning potential as a movie critic:

  • Geography

  • Education

  • Publication

  • Following

  • Experience


Location is one of the strongest indicators of earnings for movie critics. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, states like New York ($81,930) and California ($67,820) and areas like Washington D.C. ($100,550) offer the highest annual salaries for reporters and correspondents, who may act as movie critics. Conversely, southern states like Arkansas ($32,620) and Mississippi ($34,530) pay reporters and correspondents considerably less than the annual average.


Education is a valuable tool for gaining employment in the movie critic industry. Writing for a professional publication like a newspaper or magazine, which usually offers the most job security and salary potential, almost always requires a bachelor's degree. Some movie critics earn advanced degrees specializing in journalism or a related field.


The company or business you work for can have a large impact on your salary. National or international publications with high readership and impressive advertising contracts can afford to pay their employees considerably more than local, state or city newspapers or magazines.


Some movie critics gain a loyal, wide-reaching following of subscribers and readers. Whether you work for a company or yourself, increasing your following and readership will improve your earning potential. Your readers will want to see your specific reviews and might be willing to pay more to see your reviews than they would a different writer.


Experience in either journalism broadly or writing movie reviews specifically can increase your earnings. Seasoned writers are usually higher paid than entry-level employees at publications like newspapers and magazines.

Positions related to being a movie critic

If you're interested in becoming a movie critic, but want to learn more about similar jobs, consider these related positions and their annual salaries:

Technical writer

National average salary: $36,063 per year

Primary duties: Technical writers create technical documents like instruction manuals for consumers and simplify complicated technical information into easy-to-understand language and instructions.

Social media manager

National average salary: $44,857 per year

Primary duties: Social media managers direct a company, business or brand's social media channels, respond to customer comments and questions and create partnerships with other companies, businesses and brands.


National average salary: $57,037 per year

Primary duties: Copywriters create content aimed at convincing customers to purchase a product or service and writing guides, educational materials or other forms of content for companies or businesses.

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