Movie Critic: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Oct 20, 2021

Movie Reviewer Job Description

A movie reviewer is someone who is paid to see films and give their professional review of them to help audiences determine whether or not they should see the movies themselves. They do so in a clear, informative, and entertaining way without spoiling the film for those who haven't seen it. Their insights should engage conversation among readers and audiences and provide a review that is more reputable than the average opinion.

Typical Job Duties

In order to write a critical analysis, movie critics usually take notes, outline their ideas, and form a clear argument that is for or against the movie and is based on an analysis of formal film devices. They take into consideration the acting, dialogue, and direction, among other things, when writing a review. Movie critics typically need insight into the film industry, working knowledge of film theory and terminology, and strong communication and writing skills.

Movie Critic Employment Options

They usually work for newspapers, magazines, television, or radio. Movie critics can also work for online publications, become freelance writers, or create their own websites. Film criticism is a saturated market, with opportunities decreasing. Many movie reviewers do not review films on a full-time basis and supplement their reviewing job by writing other things, such as celebrity or director interviews or commentary on film culture as a whole.

How to Become a Movie Critic

There is no clear-cut path to becoming a movie critic; however, there are a couple of education and experience options for those looking to break into the industry. The table below outlines the basic expectations of employers along with salary and job growth info for individuals who manage to break into this career field.

Education Bachelor's degree preferred or required by publications
Experience Internship, freelance, or blog experience a plus; sometimes required
Median Salary (2018)* $62,170 (for all writers and authors)
Job Outlook (2018-2028)* 0% (little or no change for all writers and authors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements for Movie Critics

Movie critic jobs generally don't have any formal requirements for education, but since many of these professionals work for professional publications, a bachelor's degree is the usual minimum requirement. A bachelor's degree in film or cinema studies, journalism, English, or communications can provide a foundational education. Courses in media production, film analysis, film theory, and writing are valuable to aspiring movie reviewers.

Experience Requirements for Movie Critic Jobs

Since the job market for film critics is highly competitive, it is a good idea to gain experience before applying for a position with a publication. A few ways to do this are applying for internships, submitting freelance articles, or starting an independent website or blog. Not only can these be good experiences for future job applications, but they can also give an individual the chance to hone their skills, gain insight into the industry, and get their voice out to the movie-going public.

Movie Critic Salary and Job Outlook

The salary for film critics varies largely by their employer and location. Larger cities with bigger media and arts hubs, such as New York City and Los Angeles, employ more writers in general. However, due to technology, digital and freelance writers can work from virtually anywhere. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, writers and authors earned a median salary of $62,170 as of May 2018. The BLS also reports a job growth of 0% for writers and authors from 2018-2028, indicating that there will be little or no change.

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