Camera Operator

Camera Operator

What you need to know

Overview

Camera operators capture a wide range of material for TV shows, motion pictures, music videos, documentaries, or news and sporting events. They collaborate with producers and directors to create the final production.

What is this career like?

Camera operators who film movies or TV shows may film on location and be away from home for months at a time. Operators who travel usually must carry heavy equipment to their shooting locations.

Some of the things video editors and camera operators might do:

  • Shoot and record television programs, motion pictures, music videos, documentaries, or news and sporting events
  • Organize digital footage with video-editing software
  • Collaborate with a director to determine the overall vision of the production
  • Discuss filming and editing techniques with a director to improve a scene
  • Select the appropriate equipment, such as the type of lens or lighting
  • Shoot a scene based on the director’s vision
What skills are needed?
  • Communication skills. Camera operators must communicate with other members of a production team, including producers and directors, to ensure that the project goes smoothly.
  • Creativity. Camera operators should be able to imagine what the result of their filming or editing will look like to an audience.
  • Hand-eye coordination. Camera operators need to be able to move about the action while holding a camera steady.
  • Physical stamina. Camera operators may need to carry heavy equipment for long periods, particularly when they are filming on location.
  • Visual skills. Camera operators must see clearly what they are filming or editing in the post-production process.
What is the pay?

The average pay for video editors and camera operators in the United States ranges from $30,040 to $163,440.

The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

What is the career outlook?

Overall employment of camera operators is projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

The number of Internet-only platforms, such as streaming services, is likely to increase, along with the number of shows produced for these platforms. This growth may lead to more work for editors and camera operators.

What education is required?

Most camera operator positions require a bachelor’s degree in a field related to film or broadcasting, such as communications. Many colleges offer courses in cinematography or video-editing software. Coursework involves a mix of film theory with practical training.

Film and video editors and camera operators must have an understanding of digital cameras and editing software because both are now used on film sets.

Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Film and Media.