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Average Salary
$48,655
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
11%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
9,305
Job Openings

Video Camera Operator Careers

What Does a Video 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.

How To Become a Video 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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Average Salary
$48,655
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
11%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
9,305
Job Openings

Video Camera Operator Career Paths

Top Careers Before Video Camera Operator

Top Careers After Video Camera Operator

Video Camera Operator Jobs You Might Like

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Average Salary for a Video Camera Operator

Video Camera Operators in America make an average salary of $48,655 per year or $23 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $80,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $29,000 per year.
Average Salary
$48,655
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Recently Added Salaries

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Video Camera Operator Demographics

Gender

male

73.5 %

female

19.5 %

unknown

7.0 %

Ethnicity

White

68.2 %

Hispanic or Latino

13.9 %

Black or African American

7.6 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

44.4 %

French

22.2 %

German

11.1 %
See More Demographics

Video Camera Operator Education

Majors

Degrees

Bachelors

57.0 %

Associate

17.9 %

Certificate

15.2 %

Top Colleges for Video Camera Operators

1. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

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

2. New York University

New York, NY • Private

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

3. Texas State University

San Marcos, TX • Private

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

4. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

5. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

6. University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$14,184
Enrollment
30,845

7. Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD • Private

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

8. American University

Washington, DC • Private

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

9. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

10. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,832
Enrollment
4,550
See More Education Info

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Master your Nikon D3400 DSLR and shoot great pictures and videos...

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Top Skills For a Video Camera Operator

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, 27.4% of video camera operators listed camera operation on their resume, but soft skills such as creativity and detail oriented are important as well.

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Top Video Camera Operator Employers

1. MSG Networks
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$61,943
Video Camera Operators Hired: 
4+
2. Georgia State University
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$40,012
Video Camera Operators Hired: 
2+
3. CNN
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$72,711
Video Camera Operators Hired: 
2+
4. Lake County Captains
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$55,708
Video Camera Operators Hired: 
2+
5. Washington State University
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$43,975
Video Camera Operators Hired: 
2+
6. Broadcom
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$121,870
Video Camera Operators Hired: 
1+
Updated October 2, 2020