Want to Learn a Skill That Will set you Apart? Here’s how…

This is a guest article written by Zacary Spencer of TopTenReviews.com

video editing software learning to become a professional editor

Using video editing software on your laptop won’t be as powerful as professional systems…but it can get pretty close

A career as a video editor is an exciting possibility for those interested in working on television shows, movies, advertisements and other media.

Landing a job in the industry takes skill, networking and expertise with the video editing software in which you’ll be spending most of your work day.

This list covers a few different video editing software packages that are available, from the point of view of a student who is looking to become a professional editor.

Not all of the software listed will be used as a professional, but it’s a great way to get started and will let you branch out into more advanced editing suites.

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Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Premiere Pro is the most advanced video editing software on this list. It is also the only one that is regularly used for professional production work. It has a lot of advanced features that take some time to learn, and aren’t always applicable to small projects. It has good audio editing controls as well, if you’re on a budget and can’t afford to use a standalone audio editing program. Premiere Pro can handle all types of video inputs and outputs, including full HD and 4K+ resolutions.

If you’re using other Adobe CC programs, such as After Effects or Photoshop, you can easily move your workflow from program to program thanks to how integrated Adobe has made all of their applications. For larger projects at high resolutions, you can also take advantage of all the GPUs your system has for increased rendering time, including real-time rendering.

video editing software adobe premiere pro cc

Adobe Premiere Pro CC is about as close as you can get to professional grade

Learning Curve:

High. This is a professional editing program with a full range of features.

Industry Expectations:

The benefit of starting with Premiere Pro vs. other, easier to learn programs is that once you’ve mastered it, you’re capable of jumping into a professional production if they happen to be using Premiere Pro as well.


$49.99 per month for Creative Cloud. $19.99 per month for just Premiere Pro CC. Students and Teachers can currently get Creative Cloud for $19.99 per month.

Adobe Premiere Elements 12

Premiere Elements is a less advanced version of Premiere Pro. It is marketed towards beginners and people working on personal projects. That doesn’t mean it isn’t capable of producing great videos though. It is one of the most popular video editing software systems on the market, and for good reason. It can handle an unlimited number of video and audio tracks, something many of its competitors can’t do. It also has a movie generation feature which will automatically put together your tracks, if you don’t want to fiddle with the details.

For an aspiring professional video editor, this is a nice package to get started with before moving on to Premiere Pro or another industry-standard program. Many of the plugins you can use with Premiere Pro or After Effects work here as well, and if you’re more concerned with improving your skills first before learning an advanced program, Premiere Elements is a perfectly valid environment to do so in.

video editing software top reviews

Not as steep a learning curve as Premiere Pro CC, but Elements is still powerful video editing software

Learning Curve:

Low. You can jump in and start editing your first project in no time, without the UI overwhelming you with choices and features. As you get more comfortable though, there are more advanced options available if you want to learn them.

Industry Expectations:

You wouldn’t use Premiere Elements on a professional production, unless it was a personal project you were planning to make money off of, but the concepts are applicable to more professional systems and therefore provide a valuable entry-level training ground.


$99.99 for the full version of Premiere Elements 12. If you’re upgrading from an older version, you can get 12 for $79.99.

CyberLink PowerDirector

PowerDirector can be described as prosumer video editing software. It is more advanced and feature-rich than many consumer packages, but it isn’t quite at the level of full-on professional video editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro or Avid Media Composer. It has a lot of features which have automatic modes to get nice looking effects and transitions without having to fine-tune all of the little details.

Multi-GPU support lets you render your creations in a timely manner, and the ability to mix up to 100 different tracks lets you combine a lot of footage into your final piece. This is a nice program for students to learn because it can output more professional looking videos than some of the other consumer-level programs. It also has built-in special effects editing, so you don’t need to use another program like After Effects during the creation of school and personal projects.

video editing software cyberlink power director

With numerous built in effects and transitions, this is one of the easier programs to start doing some cool editing on

Learning Curve:

Medium. PowerDirector has a lot to offer, so it will take a little while to learn everything. Nothing is overly complex however, and the automatic modes are great when you’re just getting started.

Industry Expectations:

Some small indie productions might use PowerDirector in their pipeline, and you can always use it for projects you’re doing by yourself. For bigger companies, especially those working on movies and television shows, you’ll probably be using a more advanced program.


It starts at $54.99 for the basic version, and goes up to $239.99 for the most expensive package.

VSDC Free Video Editor

This free download is the cheapest way to get started with non-linear video editing. It offers a relatively simple user interface (UI) and supports most video and audio formats. You can create simple effects and transitions, as well as adjust color and lighting.

Free is often the right price if you’re a student, so that’s one reason to consider Free Video Editor over the other programs listed here. If you’re just starting out and want to get a grasp of the basics, this is a perfectly capable program for that purpose. You can even create some nice looking videos that rival those of higher end programs, sans the fancy effects and finely-tuned little details.

video editing software

Free is a good place to start when you are just beginning to learn video editing software.

Learning Curve:

Low. You can get started pretty quickly on your first project. If you want to get more in-depth, you can learn the program fully for more control.

Industry Expectations:

Don’t expect to use this on a professional production, at least not right now. In a few years the program could become more advanced and stable, but for now treat it as a learning experience only.


Free! (can’t beat that)

Editor’s Note:

In 1996 I was hired as a production assistant right out of college at CNN/Sports Illustrated primarily because I had learned non-linear editing while in school. At the time, it was cutting edge and CNN was changing over from tape-to-tape editing to non-linear edit bays all connected via a network and digital playback system.

The system I learned on in school, was called an ImMIX video cube, it cost tens of thousands of dollars and was less powerful than any of the video editing software programs outlined above.

Technology has come a long way, but one thing remains an industry standard, knowing how to edit video is a necessary skill that is always in demand.

Start learning now and you’ll see how valuable, and enjoyable, a skill it is.


About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.


  1. gamergurl27 says:

    Hi, Thank you for the information and guidance. I would like to know how one would approach breaking into the voice acting arena? Or digital book recording. I am having difficult time finding on web. Also, how would i gain this specialty training? Thanks for your help!

  2. Hello Brian,
    I think that teaching and writing are the two highest achievements
    a person can attain and you are doing both ! You are so right that
    technology has come such a long way and I can write to you as one
    oldster to another 🙂 I have been on the internet since graduate
    school in 1981 at a time when you needed to be a graduate student
    to get approved before the WWW[dot] was invented and re-educated
    in the internet languages at the Super Computer laboratory at UCSD
    with my first partner, a Ph.D. fellow mathematician who built one of
    the first 500 web sites on the internet. In those days we were on
    Cray super-computers with T3 line connections and you needed a
    Ph.D. in order to write code from scratch. There was no
    drop-&-drag back then. I ran home that first day and told my wife
    “I have seen the future and I want in!” and from then on I have
    lived without any restrictive borders at the speed of light.
    Your educating the students about the good old days is a great thing
    but what they have in front of their face from the time they look
    through the bars of their crib should be taken advantage of before
    they can walk. When I want to really learn something I grab some kid
    by the scruff of their neck and say: “Teach me”.
    I was the first one to write video code for the first tech support
    company that used remote control (Timbuktu) and an improved
    version of CU-SeeMe and was the first one to stream CNN before
    they knew how.
    Now, I don’t write 90% of the code I use today. I would much rather
    use the free (how magnificent!) platforms like Hangouts, YouTube,
    etc. etc. etc.
    I have taught at the local schools here in Arizona like the senior
    capstone classes at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the
    local colleges how to use social media to find a) the best job
    b) you want c) in the exact area of the world you want to live
    d) at the exact salary you want. Mainly the kids use these tools for
    personal expression but meticulously screening for persons already
    in the field they want to enter gives them a basis to be asked to be
    hired rather than asking to be hired.
    I am also a disabled VietNam veteran and take great delight in this
    teaching to those being discharged and knowing exactly where they
    are going to land.
    Many years ago I founded InternetNEWSNETwork.com and was a
    behind-the-scenes news wire mainly for broadcasting companies
    who did not have their own IT departments. I wrote all my own code
    and organized professional programmers and artists from around
    the world to remotely contribute to large contracts I obtained, so,
    world-wide, remote, efficient, cost-effective projects are not new to me.
    You are teaching these kids to do exactly the same and should be greatly
    rewarded and awarded for these extraordinary efforts.
    As time went on, I went from HTML, to DHTML, to Flash, but always striving
    toward better video production. I tell my students today: “If it isn’t video on
    YouTube (other social media) it doesn’t exist!”
    With the extraordinary band-width and even the simplest phone camera’s
    pixel ability, CPU power on the cheapest computers, and free video editing
    software, anyone can video, edit and broadcast extraordinary work products.
    I am continually amazed and pleased. What the kids can do now before
    they can walk took me 20 years to figure out.

    Several years back I came from behind-the-scenes to do green
    documentaries about solar, biodiesel, etc. Now, I have just started to
    resurrect http://www.InternetNEWSNETwork.com as a network that
    can offer channels to those video editors, producers and broadcasters
    that can work from home with all the amazing tools and talent at their very cost-effective disposal. Now, there is no-barrier-to-entry except talent.
    The only difference between my network and others is that it is ‘screened’
    (in the old days called administered), meaning we maintain editing control to
    allow only those products that are deserving.
    To some, this sounds like censorship, but the internet has become
    fraught with misuse, meanness, alt-facts, auto-bots, etc.
    I have had ‘spiders’ (now called bots) screen out inappropriate words and
    phrases for decades to create a ‘safe’ environment to express themselves and
    not be bullied by the miscreants that troll the internet for such opportunity.
    I have coded the ability for videographers to organized their videos,
    either originally produced or edited-organized into a simple YouTube
    ‘playlist’ and submit this playlist to InternetNEWSNETwork.com for approval
    to create their own channel.
    I have offered this to celebrities that have an activist agenda and have
    organized a playlist that they want to publish without a nasty back-lash to
    their offering. I write this long introduction to get some feedback from
    your network of professionals and students. I am a long way from finishing
    InternetNEWSNETwork.com and never like to show my work before it is
    finished, but feedback at any time is welcome. Mainly I work on back-end
    coding and use graphical place-holders that I can refine later, once the coding is done.
    My specialty is search engine optimization and back-end coding for
    search, sort & report is my main love.
    I was very lucky to marry a beautiful wife who has worked in front of and
    behind the camera since high-school, doing a morning school-wide broadcast
    on their CCTV system. We had the opportunity to go to the first media school
    in San Diego where she finished 1,400 hours of certified multi-media education.
    We make a great team :-0.
    We are also looking to host great in-front-of-the-camera anchor persons
    with a channel.
    I am retired and offer all of this with no charge. Also, I am disabled and move
    at a snail’s pace.
    If there is any way that you can use this type of platform it will be available in
    a few months on a prototype basis.
    I always leave my students with the idea from a psych book I read in college
    titled ‘What do you say after you say hello” and 200 pages later the answer is
    “You never know, so, say hello!”
    Best of luck for your truly remarkable efforts. I applaud you.
    Jeffery DeMarco


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