What Are Some Entry-Level Video Production Jobs?

Video production encompasses technology and art. A degree or some training in the field will be helpful to you if you're looking for an entry-level position in this field. Read on to find out about some entry-level production jobs and the education that will give you a head start. Schools offering Digital Cinematography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Production Assistant or Grip

As a production assistant, you might work for a producer, director, actor or other professional on a television set or studio. You can be required to perform any number of tasks, from running lines to typing scripts to getting coffee and lunch. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that many people get their start in the industry this way (www.bls.gov). The job might be the lowest of levels, but it gives you practical work experience on a video production while learning from seasoned professionals.

In September 2015, PayScale.com reported that production assistants earned a median wage of $35,093, with most bringing in salaries ranging from $26,391-$48,353. However, entry-level production assistants earned a median wage of $34,808, and most made between $26,056 and $46,605.

Important Facts About Video Production Jobs

Licensure Not required, however be aware of unions and guilds
Work Environment Long days, typically on set or in the editing room
Similar Occupations Art Department Assistant, Apprentice Lighting Technician, Make-up and Hair Assistant
Key Skills Creativity, detail-oriented, computer skills, communication and interpersonal skills

Assistant Camera Operator or Gaffer

An assistant camera operator lends support to the cinematographer and camera operator by performing a number of functions, including checking equipment for flaws, setting up cameras for use, taking preliminary camera shots and following the camera operator during the production shoot in order to move cable or any other needed task. Gaffers work for the director of photography, setting up lighting for each shoot. You may work on location or in a studio.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects 14% job growth for audio and video equipment technicians and 3% job growth for camera operators from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). While audio and video equipment technicians earned $46,040 on average in May 2014, television, video and motion picture camera operators earned an average wage of $56,510.

Editing Room Assistant

In this position, you will assist an editor or assistant editor with tasks related to post-production. Learning something about film or video editing while on this job can eventually help land you an assistant editor or editor position.

From 2012-2022, film and video editor employment growth is expected to be at a rate of only 1%, according to the BLS. The average for these professionals in May 2014 was $75,090, with the motion picture and video industries offering a higher average wage of $82,370. PayScale.com also reported that entry-level film and video editors earned a mean wage of $39,377 in September 2015.

Assistant Director

Also called a first or second assistant, this position entails helping the director with various details, such as procuring food and accommodations for actors and interviewees, overseeing the transportation of equipment or hiring 'extras' for a film or video. Job duties depend largely on the director and the project.

Although the BLS provides no information on assistant director positions, it does report that producer and director employment will increase at a rate of only 3% over the 2012-2022 decade. The average wage in May 2014 was $90,300, while the lowest-paid 10% of producers and directors earned $31,380 or less a year. Those working in the motion picture and video industries earned $106,440 on average.

Education and Training

A bachelor's degree program in television production, combined with practical internship experience, will teach you about the technical and creative aspects of the field and help qualify you for an entry-level job in video production. You'll learn about digital media, editing, writing and aesthetics. Preliminary courses introduce you to the equipment that is used in production. Courses in studio and field production provide practical experience working on student productions, allowing you the opportunity to try many different jobs. Specific courses in cinematography, audio production and direction can help you to find your focus.

An internship will help you gain experience in the field. Internship opportunities come from different sources, including alumni or departmental connections; you can also apply for internship slots at different television shows or video production companies. Duties usually consist of performing menial tasks for higher-ups, but you can also learn from those same people through observation and mentoring. An internship will also give you a good idea of your immediate future as an entry-level worker in the industry.

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