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TV Cameraman: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become a TV cameraman. Learn about degree requirements, key skills, job outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you.

What Is a Television Camera Operator?

Television series, news programs, live sports and reality shows all need cameramen. These professionals will work with various types of cameras and settings. Some news studios still use large rolling cameras. Live programing will have smaller, lighter digital cameras. Some news and sports programs may require a cameraman to be fit enough to move quickly to get some shots. They will work closely with sound technicians and directors and need to be fluent in their knowledge of lenses, lighting and filters for a variety of situations and settings.

Formal training is needed to begin working as a TV camera operator. Learn more about this field by reading the details provided in table below.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Broadcasting, film
Key Skills Hand-eye coordination, physical stamina, detail-oriented, communication, computer literacy, visual eye
Job Growth (2018-2028) 8% growth*
Median Salary (2018) $54,570*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Do as a TV Cameraman?

You'll operate a television, video or digital camera to record different types of material intended for TV. Broadcasts include television series, dramas, sitcoms, news programs, sporting events and documentaries. You may be employed by a TV network, local TV station or production company that produces content for a network. In addition to recording programs or events, you may assist in camera placement and decide how to best capture a scene. You also may assist with editing and other aspects of production.

Where Will I Work?

Your work environment can vary significantly. Many TV programs are filmed in a studio or on a soundstage. Others are filmed on location and you may need to work irregular hours due to lighting conditions. For example, filming an outdoor scene that is set at night may require working overnight hours.

If you cover sports events, your job can involve travel and exposure to various weather conditions. It's your job to ensure full coverage of an event regardless of rain, snow or fog. If you work in TV news, you may film natural disasters, wars or other dangerous situations.

What Salary is Possible?

As of May 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that television camera operators earned a median wage of $54,570 (www.bls.gov). The largest employer of cameramen along with the television industry was the movie and video industry, where the average wage was $70,550, per the 2018 BLS report. The highest paying metropolitan area for camera operators in 2018 was New York-Newark-Jersey City, where the average salary was $84,520, according to the BLS.

What Types of Degree Programs are Available to Me?

Though many degree programs can provide you with training relevant to this field, the BLS stated that a bachelor's degree is typically needed for camera operating positions. You can also earn an associate's degree in television and video production. Such programs typically include hands-on training with cameras, editing equipment and other tools used in television production. You'll also study lighting techniques, set design and other elements of the television filming process.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Cameramen may choose a related career as an editor. With a bachelor's degree these professionals work with film and digital video and will collaborate with a director to plan and cut scenes to fit their vision. Some may work upwards to become producers or directors. Directors will work with a script and creative team to come up with the production's theme. They choose the talent, work rehearsals, and direct the action. Producers work with directors to handle such things as sets, special effects, makeup, and distribution. Both careers will start with a bachelor' degree.