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Become A Camera Operator

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Working As A Camera Operator

  • Thinking Creatively
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Stressful

  • $36,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Camera Operator Do

Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate images that entertain or inform an audience. Camera operators capture a wide range of material for TV shows, motion pictures, music videos, documentaries, or news and sporting events. Editors take footage shot by camera operators and organize it into a final product. They collaborate with producers and directors to create the final production.

Duties

Film and video editors and camera operators typically do the following:

  • 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 or edit a scene based on the director’s vision

Many camera operators have one or more assistants working under their supervision. The assistants set up the camera equipment and may be responsible for its storage and care. They also help the operator determine the best shooting angle and make sure that the camera stays in focus.

Likewise, editors often have one or more assistants. The assistants support the editor by keeping track of each shot in a database or loading digital video into an editing bay. Assistants also may do some of the editing tasks.

The increased use of digital filming has changed the work of a large number of editors and camera operators. Many operators prefer using digital cameras because these smaller, more inexpensive instruments give them more flexibility in shooting angles. Digital cameras also have changed the job of some camera assistants: instead of loading film or choosing lenses, they download digital images or choose a type of software program to use with the camera.

Nearly all editing work is done on a computer, and editors often are trained in a specific type of editing software.

The following are examples of types of camera operators:

Studio camera operators work in a broadcast studio and videotape their subjects from a fixed position. There may be one or several cameras in use at a time. Operators normally follow directions that give the order of the shots. They often have time to practice camera movements before shooting begins. If they are shooting a live event, they must be able to make adjustments at a moment’s notice and follow the instructions of the show’s director.

Cinematographers film motion pictures. They usually have a team of camera operators and assistants working under them. They determine the angles and types of equipment that will best capture a shot. They also adjust the lighting in a shot, because that is an important part of how the image looks.

Cinematographers may use stationary cameras that shoot whatever passes in front of them, or they may use a camera mounted on a track and move around the action. Some cinematographers sit on cranes to film and action scene; others carry the camera on their shoulder while they move around the action.

Some cinematographers specialize in filming cartoons or special effects.

Videographers film or videotape private ceremonies or special events, such as weddings. They also may work with companies and make corporate documentaries on a variety of topics. Some videographers post their work on video-sharing websites for prospective clients. Most videographers edit their own material.

Many videographers run their own business or do freelance work. They may submit bids, write contracts, and get permission to shoot on locations that may not be open to the public. They also get copyright protection for their work and keep financial records.

Many editors and camera operators, particularly videographers, put their creative work online. If it becomes popular, they gain more recognition, which can lead to future employment or freelance opportunities.

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How To Become A Camera Operator

Film and video editors and camera operators typically need a bachelor’s degree in a field related to film or broadcasting.

Education

Most editor and 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.

Training

Editors may complete a brief period of on-the-job training. Some employers may offer new employees training in the type of specialized editing software they use. Most editors eventually specialize in one type of software, but beginners should be familiar with as many types as possible.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification is a way for editors to demonstrate competence in various types of editing software. To earn certification, video editors must pass a comprehensive exam. Candidates can prepare for the exam on their own, through online tutorials, or through classroom instruction.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Film and video editors and camera operators must communicate with other members of a production team, including producers and directors, to ensure that the project goes smoothly.

Computer skills. Film and video editors must use sophisticated editing software.

Creativity. Film and video editors and camera operators should be able to imagine what the result of their filming or editing will look like to an audience.

Detail oriented. Editors look at every frame of film and decide what should be kept and what should be cut in order to maintain the best content.

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 of time, particularly when they are filming on location.

Visual skills. Film and video editors and camera operators must be able to see clearly what they are filming or editing in the postproduction process.

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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Cameraman 3.0 years
Video Operator 2.7 years
Camera Person 2.5 years
Audio Operator 2.5 years
Videographer 2.0 years
Cinematographer 2.0 years
Camera Operator 2.0 years
Camera Assistant 1.6 years
Top Careers Before Camera Operator
Internship 10.3%
Editor 5.1%
Director 5.0%
Cashier 3.9%
Volunteer 2.9%
Assistant 2.7%
Producer 2.2%
Top Careers After Camera Operator
Internship 7.6%
Editor 6.1%
Director 5.2%
Producer 3.3%
Cashier 3.0%
Assistant 2.5%

Do you work as a Camera Operator?

Average Yearly Salary
$36,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$21,000
Min 10%
$36,000
Median 50%
$36,000
Median 50%
$36,000
Median 50%
$36,000
Median 50%
$36,000
Median 50%
$36,000
Median 50%
$36,000
Median 50%
$59,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
CBS
Highest Paying City
Jersey City, NJ
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
2.2 years
How much does a Camera Operator make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Camera Operator in the United States is $36,103 per year or $17 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $22,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $59,000.

Real Camera Operator Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Camera Operator Shortpeace Films, Inc. New York, NY May 13, 2016 $90,626
Key Grip/Camera Operator Bare Film, LLC Moriarty, NM Jul 10, 2014 $65,219 -
$78,263
Camera Operator Max Media Consulting LLC Middlefield, CT Oct 20, 2015 $53,824
Camera Operator Max Media Consulting LLC Middlefield, CT Aug 15, 2013 $48,606
Camera Operator Max Media Consulting LLC Middlefield, CT Aug 01, 2011 $48,606
TV Camera Operator Eastern Broadcasting America Corporation Industry, CA Oct 01, 2015 $45,600
Camera Operator Key Grip Bare Film, LLC Moriarty, NM Jul 16, 2014 $41,995
Camera Operator KVCR Educational Foundation Inc. San Bernardino, CA Jun 12, 2010 $41,740
Camera Operator KVCR Educational Foundation Inc. San Bernardino, CA Jun 20, 2010 $41,740
Camera Operator IQ Management Enterprises, Inc. Jersey City, NJ Jan 09, 2016 $36,837
TV Camera Operator Eastern Broadcasting America Corporation Industry, CA Oct 01, 2012 $36,000
Camera Operator Chesapeake Bay Helicopters, Inc. VA May 12, 2011 $33,142

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Top Skills for A Camera Operator

  1. Video Production
  2. Camera Equipment
  3. Audio Equipment
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Contributed intuitive knowledge of video production in a team oriented environment.
  • Performed routine maintenance on processors, mixed and balanced chemicals, and calibrated camera equipment to assure quality.
  • Work for a Non-Profit Technology Center operating camera and audio equipment for self and community sponsored events.
  • Assisted the director of photography with slow-motion replay and photo-finish camera operations
  • Worked closely with director to plan camera positions and coordinate the crew for live broadcasts.

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Top 10 Best States for Camera Operators

  1. New York
  2. Louisiana
  3. Rhode Island
  4. Colorado
  5. Georgia
  6. District of Columbia
  7. Maryland
  8. Washington
  9. New Jersey
  10. Wisconsin
  • (213 jobs)
  • (36 jobs)
  • (13 jobs)
  • (67 jobs)
  • (94 jobs)
  • (14 jobs)
  • (20 jobs)
  • (54 jobs)
  • (38 jobs)
  • (28 jobs)

Camera Operator Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 9,580 Camera Operator resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Camera Operator Resume

View Resume Examples

Camera Operator Demographics

Gender

Male

69.1%

Female

21.9%

Unknown

9.0%
Ethnicity

White

60.5%

Hispanic or Latino

18.1%

Black or African American

11.5%

Asian

6.5%

Unknown

3.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

59.3%

French

8.6%

Chinese

4.9%

German

4.0%

Mandarin

3.1%

Portuguese

2.8%

Arabic

2.8%

Russian

2.4%

Japanese

2.4%

Italian

1.8%

Korean

1.5%

Cantonese

1.2%

Greek

1.2%

Turkish

0.6%

Hindi

0.6%

Dutch

0.6%

Kazakh

0.6%

Czech

0.6%

Slovak

0.6%

Cherokee

0.3%
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Camera Operator Education

Schools

Full Sail University

27.2%

Columbia College Chicago

7.7%

University of North Texas

5.7%

Temple University

5.3%

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

4.8%

San Francisco State University

3.9%

Savannah College of Art and Design

3.9%

Emerson College

3.8%

New York University

3.4%

University of Alabama

3.3%

Michigan State University

3.3%

Georgia State University

3.3%

Towson University

3.2%

University of Florida

3.1%

Ithaca College

3.1%

Art Institute of Atlanta

3.1%

Pennsylvania State University

3.1%

Rowan University

3.1%

Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

3.0%

Ohio University -

3.0%
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Majors

Photography

33.8%

Communication

22.3%

Digital Media

7.3%

Journalism

6.3%

Business

3.7%

Audiovisual Communications Technologies

3.7%

Fine Arts

2.9%

Entertainment Business

2.9%

Graphic Design

2.2%

Electrical Engineering

2.2%

Computer Networking

2.1%

English

1.5%

Theatre

1.4%

Computer Science

1.4%

Liberal Arts

1.3%

Criminal Justice

1.2%

Music

1.0%

Marketing

1.0%

Design And Visual Communication

1.0%

Psychology

1.0%
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Degrees

Bachelors

59.7%

Other

19.1%

Associate

10.5%

Masters

6.4%

Certificate

2.8%

Diploma

1.1%

Doctorate

0.2%

License

0.1%
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