Job description

Camera operators operate a wide variety of technical equipment during film, television and video production projects. During shoots, they assemble and operate a wide variety of high-tech equipment, such as single electronic cameras and multiple portable crane mountings.

Duties

    • Study scripts, take notes and try to understand the content
    • Carry out instructions immediately when directed to do so
    • Record various scenes using a diverse array of shots under the direction of the director of photography (DP)
    • Follow shoot schedules and call sheets
    • Practise the camera moves as stated in the screenplay or recommended by staff in rehearsals
    • Assemble, repair and set up equipment pertinent to the day’s shooting schedule
    • Maintain expensive equipment, film and recording devices to avoid additional costs
    • Remember the rehearsals and follow the script that outlines the shots to take
    • Offer advice on how to get the best shot and explain its impact
    • Come up with solutions to practical or technical problems, like natural light or sound
    • Cooperate with other crew members, including lighting technicians, sound recordists and producers
    • Showcase your understanding of local health and safety regulations

Skills, qualities and knowledge

Physical stamina
Attention to detail
Teamwork
Independence
Communication
Observation
Concentration
Problem-solving
Coordination
Multitasking
Artistic
Patience
Memorisation
Decision-making

Working hours and environment

Average working hours

50hweek

Typical schedule

Unpredictable

Nights, weekends, holidays occasionally

A camera operator can anticipate unpredictable, long and irregular working hours. Their workday primarily consists of standing and moving around, operating heavy camera equipment, and performing their job in uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous conditions.

Work environments can be stressful, particularly on television and motion picture sets.

Many camera operators often go through long bouts of unemployment between projects.

Salary

Bottom 10%

$26k

Median

$55k

Top 10%

$100k

Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level

Undergraduate

DVM / VMD degree

Study time

4years

To become a camera operator, you’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree in a field related to film or broadcasting. Entry into this profession is also possible through vocational training, related on-the-job training or an associate’s degree. You could also work your way up from an intern or production assistant position.

Familiarity with digital cameras and editing software is essential.

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2016 to 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 7%.

7%

No of new jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2016 and 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.

1.8k

Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.

60%

Career progression

After proving your competency level as a production assistant, you will eventually move up to a camera assistant, which is then followed by a camera operator job. With a stellar portfolio of films, television shows, music videos and other video productions, you can move up the ladder in the entertainment industry. This usually consists of camera operators becoming directors or producers.