SAGE rate card 2016

SAGE has published an annual rate card of recommended salaries for editors for the last 15 years. Though focussed on freelance editors, this rate card can also be used as a starting point for full-time employment negotiations.

Rates and conditions should be considered negotiable; this is a guideline, not a rigid set of rules. We encourage editors and producers alike to read our pre-employment checklist and the what to expect from an editor document.

The tables below represent a broad spread of possible rates. If the rates seem extraordinarily low or high, consider that these are intended to cover a wide range of job types, genres, durations, locations, funding models, conditions, and potential profit participation. Providing a useful guide to all these variables is highly challenging, so we have elected to use broad categories instead.

You can also download the rate card as a PDF.


Basic Classification Junior Mid-level Highly experienced
and/or international
Story editor "offline" 8,100 to 12,100 12,100 to 19,700 19,700 to 30,800
Finishing editor "online" 9,900 to 14,900 14,900 to 24,100 24,100 to 37,600
1st Assistant editor 5,400 to 8,200 8,200 to 13,200 13,200 to 20,600
2nd assistant, logger/digitiser, subtitler 2,800 to 4,300 4,300 to 6,300 -
Sound editor or designer 6,200 to 9,200 9,200 to 14,900 14,900 to 23,200


Basic Classification Junior Mid-level Highly experienced
and/or international
Story editor "offline" 1,620 to 2,420 2,420 to 3,940 3,940 to 6,160
Finishing editor "online" 1,980 to 2,980 2,980 to 4,820 4,820 to 7,520
1st Assistant editor 1,080 to 1,640 1,640 to 2,640 2,640 to 4,120
2nd assistant, logger/digitiser, subtitler 560 to 860 860 to 1,260 -
Sound editor or designer 1,240 to 1,840 1,840 to 2,980 2,980 to 4,640



  • All time after 10 hours per day charged at 1.5x.
  • All time after 14 hours per day charged at 2x.
  • 6th day and public holidays charged at 1.5x daily rate, minimum call 10 hours.
  • 7th day charged at 2x daily rate, minimum call 10 hours.

About the rate card

Our rate card is calculated using four main principles:

1. Inflation matching

For many years SAGE has increased rates below CPI, attempting to maintain a rate card that better represents what editors are actually paid. This dangerously deflates editors’ income over time, threatening to make a career in editing unfeasible. Thus, for the last 3 years we have added CPI to all our rates.

This year we’ve added the average CPI for 2015, at 4.6%.

We urge all post-production professionals to consider job sustainability when negotiating rates.

2. Skills growth

On top of inflation, we consider a 15-year career growth, which works out to an average additional increase of 3.6% per year. Not everyone will improve their skills at the same rate, which is why we maintain a spread across all levels of experience.

Beyond 15 years of skills growth, highly experienced editors are considered to be in a strong individual negotiating position.

3. A spread of rates

We’ve created three experience groups: junior, mid-level, and highly experienced and/or international.

Note that experience does not necessarily equate to number of years spent working in the post-production industry, but rather the specific years of experience at a specific task. Further, we have chosen to not provide a years of experience criteria for each group, as we feel that different editors progress at different rates.

We urge editors to consider job offerings below their minimum rate very carefully.

4. Rates and conditions comparable to the camera department

SAGE’s policy is that the post-production rates should match those of the camera department, as both departments contribute similar technical and creative effort.

When negotiating, we encourage editors to ask what the other heads of departments are earning—remembering that DOPs typically work a 72-hour week versus the editors’ standard of 50.

We also recommend that editors negotiate for duration-pay rather than lump-sum pay, as this requires the producer to take some of the risk of post-production scheduling—which should never be exclusively the editors’ risk.

Lastly, we strongly disagree with the trend of balancing the camera and post-production costs as they appear in the budget: duration of work is the only reasonable comparison. When discussing rates, we encourage editors and producers to compare hours with hours.