Sports Cameraman Salary and Career Facts
Explore the career requirements for sports cameramen. Get the facts about education requirements, job growth and salary to determine if this is the right career for you.
What Is a Sports Cameraman?
Sports cameramen record sporting events to be broadcast on television or other media. They can cover a wide range of sporting events, from high school soccer games to college or professional basketball games. They may work in a team of a few people to help set-up and care for the equipment. These professionals must be able to determine the best shooting angles to capture the event. They also must be able to move quickly to capture the action while keeping the camera in focus. Sports cameramen have to be ready to change positions or make various adjustments at any time. Check out the following table to get a better idea of what's required for a job in this field.
|Degree Required||Bachelor's degree|
|Education Field of Study||Broadcasting, communications|
|Key Skills||Communication and organizational skills, hand-eye coordination, creativity|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)||7% (for all camera operators)*|
|Average Salary (2018)||$52,990 (for camera operators in spectator sports)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Will I Do as a Sports Cameraman?
Sports camera operators provide viewers with a first-hand look at sporting events, often working late or irregular hours, since sporting events tend to occur during the evening and on weekends. You may also work in inclement weather if you're covering outdoor sports. You must be able to stay focused and have a steady hand to accurately capture the events.
As technology advances, you must stay up-to-date with broadcast equipment. According to August 2019 job posts from indeed.com, sports cameramen must know about current technology and trends in the field, must be organized and efficient, and should have good communication skills.
What Education Do I Need?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you need at least a bachelor's degree to land a job as a camera operator of any type. Many schools offer bachelor's degree programs in broadcasting, communications, or sports journalism, and some institutions may even have sports broadcasting programs. Courses cover basic video production, mass communication, media law, communication ethics and post-production for sports. You may also take field production-based courses, where you'd learn about lighting, editing, design and technical issues.
Some bachelor's degree programs may include an internship, through which you would obtain hands-on experience. Sometimes these internships can turn into entry-level job opportunities. Additionally, if your school has its own sports department, you may be able to contact the sports information director to gain experience filming your school's sports teams.
How Much Do Sports Cameramen Make?
According to the BLS, the average salary for camera operators working in spectator sports was $52,990 in May 2018. Salaries can be much higher than the average for those cameramen working in high profile sports. According to paysa.com, the average annual NBA cameraman salary is $66,192, the average annual ESPN cameraman salary is $74,542, and the average annual NFL cameraman salary is $93,316 . However, these positions in high profile sports make up only a small number of the total cameraman positions. Many sports camera operators work independently and are hired on a freelance basis. This can be beneficial when landing a job, according to the BLS, because freelancers tend to be highly motivated and can take on the ever-evolving industry. Freelance camera operators, however, must also typically own their own equipment, causing personal job-related expenses to be high.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
A few other related positions include editors, producers and directors, and multimedia artists and animators. All of these positions require at least a bachelor's degree. Editors are responsible for proofreading and checking the content of various kinds of written works before they are published. Producers and directors are responsible for overseeing all the details of a performing arts production, such as a movie or play. Multimedia artists and animators develop the visual effects for things like video games and TV shows.