Camera Operator

Camera operator career professional set up on a video production shoot in a living room with an antique red chair

What you need to know


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 a camera operator?

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 camera operators in the United States was $61,800 in May 2023 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A camera operator’s pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

What is the career outlook?

About 8,200 new job openings for both camera operators and video editors are projected each year, on average, over the next 10 years in the United States. In 2022 there were about 36,500 camera operators and 51,000 video editors working in the United States.

Overall employment of camera operators is projected to grow 7 percent from 2022 to 2032 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is faster than the average growth rate 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 to become a camera operator?

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.