Cameraman: Career Summary, Job Outlook, and Training Requirements

Research what it takes to become a cameraman. Learn about employment outlook, salary and degree requirements to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Digital Media Production degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Cameraman?

A cameraman or camera operator uses a variety of electronic media to record and produce images for various media and technological outlets. Camera operators may work with a variety of video camera types, including stationary cameras, track-mounted cameras and even cameras attached to cranes for dramatic shots. Some projects may use a single camera, while others employ multiple cameras and camera operators to capture the scene or event from various angles. Camera operators often work with cinematographers and other film and television production professionals. Learn more about this career below.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Film, media production, broadcasting
Key Skills Hand-eye coordination, creativity, physical stamina, attention to detail
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2% (for all camera operators - television, video and motion picture)*
Average Salary (2015) $59,360 (for all camera operators - television, video and motion picture)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Cameraman Do?

A cameraman, or woman, captures or produces images for use on TV, video, film or sometimes on computer. They can use their skills to film television series, movies, sporting events, music videos, online video and news broadcasts. Camera operators hand their filmed material off to an editor who splices it into a finished product. Some are trained to edit their own recordings. Camera operators who work for news agencies generally work under tight deadlines and often must film recordings in short periods of time.

Camera operators are either independently employed or work for small companies, large networks or production studios. Operators may work with a team if the production is especially large. Some cameramen use their skills to film private events, such as weddings. Regardless of subject matter, operators should have a good grasp on cinematography techniques, such as sound, lighting and color schemes. They should also understand satellite technologies, as a camera operator may transmit live video via satellite feed.

What Are the Training Requirements to Become a Cameraman?

Pursuing a formal education or gaining knowledge through training and experience are both options toward becoming a professional cameraman. Multimedia and media arts coursework are often part of a bachelor's degree program in something like film and media production or in more focused certificate programs, such as in cinematography. Many camera operators begin training by shadowing an expert in the field and building their references and connections through hands-on experience. Working as an intern at a news station or filming for a college television network are also first work experiences.

What is the Job Outlook and Salary?

The job field for camera operators is very competitive. Growth has been predicted to be 2% from 2014-2024 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS (www.bls.gov). An increase in productions and broadcasts for the Internet will provide additional employment opportunities for camera operators. The BLS reported a mean salary of $59,360 as of May 2015 for this profession.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Related career fields for camera operators could include sound or broadcast engineering technology and photography. Sound engineering technicians also work on TV and film sets, though they focus on the audio rather than the visuals. Photographers capture still images rather than moving images like camera operators do. Both of these jobs require some specialized education and training after high school, often resulting in an associate's or bachelor's degree. Those with a strong interest in film might also consider becoming movie producers or directors, which are also bachelor's-level careers.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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