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Working as a Cinematographer

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a cinematographer. For example, did you know that they make an average of $34.21 an hour? That's $71,166 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 11% and produce 7,900 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Cinematographer Do

There are certain skills that many cinematographers have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed communication skills, computer skills and hand–eye coordination.

When it comes to the most important skills required to be a cinematographer, we found that a lot of resumes listed 20.9% of cinematographers included video production, while 11.3% of resumes included cinema, and 10.7% of resumes included music videos. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

When it comes to searching for a job, many search for a key term or phrase. Instead, it might be more helpful to search by industry, as you might be missing jobs that you never thought about in industries that you didn't even think offered positions related to the cinematographer job title. But what industry to start with? Most cinematographers actually find jobs in the education and media industries.

How To Become a Cinematographer

If you're interested in becoming a cinematographer, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 67.7% of cinematographers have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 9.8% of cinematographers have master's degrees. Even though most cinematographers have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a cinematographer. When we researched the most common majors for a cinematographer, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor's degree degrees or associate degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on cinematographer resumes include master's degree degrees or high school diploma degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a cinematographer. In fact, many cinematographer jobs require experience in a role such as cinematographer, editor. Meanwhile, many cinematographers also have previous career experience in roles such as production assistant or camera operator.

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Average Salary$71,166
Job Growth Rate11%

Cinematographer Career Paths

Top Careers Before Cinematographer

Top Careers After Cinematographer

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Average Salary for a Cinematographer

Cinematographers in America make an average salary of $71,166 per year or $34 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $106,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $47,000 per year.
Average Salary
$71,166

Best Paying Cities

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Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Cinematographer
Cinematographer
The Translatin@ Coalition
The Translatin@ Coalition
06/20/2019
06/20/2019
$56,70106/20/2019
$56,701
Cinematographer
Cinematographer
Black Rainbow LLC
Black Rainbow LLC
08/02/2016
08/02/2016
$93,91508/02/2016
$93,915
Wedding Cinematographer
Wedding Cinematographer
Moving Picture Weddings LLC
Moving Picture Weddings LLC
03/28/2016
03/28/2016
$83,48003/28/2016
$83,480
Cinematographer
Cinematographer
Zealand Productions, Inc.
Zealand Productions, Inc.
07/16/2015
07/16/2015
$38,27607/16/2015
$38,276
Cinematographer
Cinematographer
Zealand Productions, Inc.
Zealand Productions, Inc.
07/13/2015
07/13/2015
$38,27607/13/2015
$38,276

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Cinematographer Demographics

Gender

male

76.9 %

female

17.6 %

unknown

5.5 %

Ethnicity

White

68.7 %

Hispanic or Latino

13.5 %

Black or African American

7.5 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

43.6 %

French

16.4 %

Japanese

7.3 %
See More Demographics

Cinematographer Education

Majors

Degrees

Bachelors

67.7 %

Associate

10.7 %

Masters

9.8 %

Top Colleges for Cinematographers

1. Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,740
Enrollment
5,567

2. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

3. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

4. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

5. Texas State University

San Marcos, TX • Public

In-State Tuition
$10,280
Enrollment
34,187

6. Minnesota State University - Mankato

Mankato, MN • Public

In-State Tuition
$8,184
Enrollment
11,675

7. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

8. American University

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition
$48,459
Enrollment
7,485

9. Loyola Marymount University

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$48,522
Enrollment
6,557

10. Brigham Young University

Provo, UT • Private

In-State Tuition
$5,620
Enrollment
31,441
See More Education Info
Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Cinematographer

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 20.9% of cinematographers listed video production on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and computer skills are important as well.

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Top Cinematographer Employers

1. Feature Films for Families
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$79,653
Cinematographers Hired: 
12+
2. FINDINGS
3.8
Avg. Salary: 
$78,427
Cinematographers Hired: 
3+
3. Creative
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$78,783
Cinematographers Hired: 
2+
4. University of Illinois at Chicago
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$60,354
Cinematographers Hired: 
2+
5. Arrow Industries
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$81,076
Cinematographers Hired: 
2+
6. Intel
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$148,886
Cinematographers Hired: 
2+