Camera Operators Job, Salary, and School Information

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Camera Operators

Camera Operators


Education

What’s Needed: Most camera operator jobs require a bachelor’s degree in a field related to broadcasting or film and on-the-job-training. Numerous schools provide training in camera operation. Many camera operators graduate from a film school.

Camera operators need to learn about digital cameras and computer technology because they’re continually used on film sets. Camera operators also need to have knowledge about the production process.

What you study:

  • Frame composition
  • Production concepts
  • Camera shooting techniques
  • Cinematography
  • Videography
  • Film and digital camera operation
  • Set lighting


Video Overview

An introduction into what camera and video operators do. Created for the US Dept. of Labor.


A Day in the Life

In the movie industry you’ll spend a lot of time figuring out the best angles and the types of cameras to use.

A director is the painter of a movie or a television show, however the camera operator wields the paint brush. It’s a rewarding job on a daily basis for people who are artistic, detailed-oriented and have good communication skills.

Your area of specialization as a camera operator determines the course of the day. If you work as a camera operator in the exciting movie industry you’ll spend a lot of time figuring out the best angles and the types of cameras to use to capture a shot. You’ll use your personal style and technical skills to get the desired footage.

During part of the day you may use stationary cameras but you may also operate a camera mounted on a track so you can move around while filming the action. You may also spend time during the day sitting above the ground on a crane filming the action. As a camera operator in the movie industry you’ll continually be taking orders from and collaborating with the cinematographer and the director.

Not all camera operators in the film industry work on expensive movie productions, you may work on educational, small-budget industrial or documentary films. If you work on small productions you might be in charge of all shooting and lighting.

You’ll be collaborating with the cinematographer and the director.

Studio camera operators work in broadcast studios using their skills to record an array of studio broadcasts including situation comedies, talk shows, news broadcasts, sports television and game shows. Behind the scenes as a studio cameras operator you’ll operate a camera mounted on a pedestal for a huge part of your work day.

At the beginning of every work day, before filming the broadcast, you’ll have to make sure the equipment is properly working, however You don’t have to fix equipment, a technician will take care of equipment problems for you.

During the pre-show rehearsal, which happens every day, you’ll get instructions from a studio director and assistant director about the shots and angles they want you to capture. During rehearsals you’ll get blocking notes which help you anticipate people moving on the set.

In the studio you have to be very attentive to cues from the director and the action on the set.

Throughout the day you’ll receive auditory cues from the director through a radio headset. As a studio camera operator you have to be very attentive to cues from the director and also the action on the set.

Electronic news gathering operators work on location with reporters to produce an array of newscasts for television. As an electronic news gathering operator you’ll often travel to places with interesting developing stories. At times, you may have to move quickly on location in order to capture the action for the viewers at home.


Certifications and Licensing

Camera operators are not required to have certification or a license.


Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time: Depending on the specialty, some camera operators work full-time and some work part-time. The work hours vary considerably by the speciality.

Work location: Camera operators work for television stations, cable and television networks, the movie industry and independent production companies.


Recommended Websites


Salaries by City

See typical salaries and ranges for this career below *. Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.

0.01%

State City / Region Typical Salary Salary Range Job Count % of All Jobs
AL Birmingham – Hoover $23,890 $18K – $60K N/A N/A
AL Montgomery $21,360 $16K – $83K 30 0.02%
AR Little Rock – North Little Rock – Conway $53,580 $17K – $69K N/A N/A
AZ Phoenix – Mesa – Glendale $38,470 $31K – $66K 210 0.01%
CA Fresno $37,460 $32K – $69K N/A N/A
CA Los Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area) $52,100 $27K – $156K 1,700 0.04%
CA Modesto $29,260 $26K – $35K N/A N/A
CA Oakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area) N/A N/A – N/A 50 0.01%
CA Sacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville $49,520 $33K – $114K 40 0.01%
CA San Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos $49,540 $24K – $73K 100 0.01%
CA San Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area) $56,520 $34K – $88K 90 0.01%
CA San Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara N/A N/A – N/A 60 0.01%
CA Santa Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area) $52,860 $26K – $88K 70 0.01%
CA Santa Barbara – Santa Maria – Goleta $61,660 $29K – $110K 30 0.02%
CO Denver – Aurora – Broomfield $53,490 $36K – $71K 210 0.02%
CT Hartford – West Hartford – East Hartford $25,020 $18K – $44K 280 0.05%
DC Washington – Arlington – Alexandria (Metro Area) $68,070 $27K – $102K 300 0.01%
FL Cape Coral – Fort Myers $29,330 $21K – $69K 60 0.03%
FL Fort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach (Metro Area) $50,430 $33K – $69K 130 0.02%
FL Jacksonville $30,350 $24K – $47K 80
FL Miami – Miami Beach – Kendall (Metro Area) $31,520 $22K – $54K 320 0.03%
FL Orlando – Kissimmee – Sanford $37,320 $23K – $56K 210 0.02%
FL Tallahassee $22,390 $20K – $24K 70 0.04%
FL Tampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater $32,300 $22K – $49K 110 0.01%
FL West Palm Beach – Boca Raton – Boynton Beach (Metro Area) $29,940 $21K – $44K 80 0.02%
GA Atlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta $66,180 $39K – $91K 190 0.01%
HI Honolulu $38,160 $26K – $63K 120 0.03%
ID Idaho Falls $18,550 $16K – $24K 70 0.15%
IL Chicago – Joliet – Naperville (Metro Area) $77,160 $30K – $95K 630 0.02%
IL Lake County – Kenosha County (Metro Area) $28,500 $26K – $37K N/A N/A
IN Evansville N/A N/A – N/A 40 0.02%
IN Indianapolis – Carmel $29,730 $18K – $51K 80 0.01%
KS Wichita $29,610 $21K – $38K 30 0.01%
LA Baton Rouge $38,320 $17K – $66K 110 0.03%
LA New Orleans – Metairie – Kenner $51,480 $34K – $69K 180 0.04%
LA Shreveport – Bossier City $29,540 $17K – $55K 60 0.04%
MA Boston – Cambridge – Quincy (Metro Area) $38,100 $32K – $72K 290 0.02%
MA Springfield $62,810 $28K – $77K 50 0.02%
MD Bethesda – Rockville – Frederick (Metro Area) $60,470 $26K – $119K 100 0.02%
ME Portland – South Portland – Biddeford $28,940 $22K – $58K 120 0.06%
MI Warren – Troy – Farmington Hills (Metro Area) $37,040 $31K – $65K 100 0.01%
MN Minneapolis – St. Paul – Bloomington $44,710 $27K – $68K 110 0.01%
MO Kansas City $29,340 $18K – $55K 90 0.01%
MO Springfield $18,820 $16K – $32K 80 0.04%
MO St. Louis $39,460 $17K – $73K 80 0.01%
NC Charlotte – Gastonia – Rock Hill $36,330 $22K – $56K 90 0.01%
NC Greensboro – High Point $24,850 $19K – $58K 50 0.01%
NC Raleigh – Cary N/A N/A – N/A 110 0.02%
NC Winston – Salem $19,210 $16K – $48K 50 0.02%
NE Omaha – Council Bluffs $39,320 $25K – $87K 30 0.01%
NJ Camden (Metro Area) $58,110 $32K – $115K 50 0.01%
NJ Edison – New Brunswick (Metro Area) $36,570 $31K – $67K 70 0.01%
NM Albuquerque $33,090 $20K – $74K 70 0.02%
NV Las Vegas – Paradise $56,810 $18K – N/A 100 0.01%
NY Albany – Schenectady – Troy $20,790 $16K – $40K 80 0.02%
NY Buffalo – Niagara Falls $36,230 $23K – $78K 30 0.01%
NY Nassau – Suffolk (Metro Area) $49,660 $32K – $61K N/A N/A
NY New York – White Plains – Wayne (Metro Area) $45,930 $22K – $93K 1,680 0.03%
OH Cincinnati – Middletown $47,610 $38K – $75K N/A N/A
OH Cleveland – Elyria – Mentor $44,010 $36K – $71K 60 0.01%
OH Columbus $36,930 $31K – $62K 50 0.01%
OH Dayton $61,570 $34K – $79K N/A N/A
OH Toledo $33,430 $18K – $78K 30 0.01%
OK Oklahoma City $37,710 $26K – $62K 130 0.02%
OK Tulsa $25,660 $20K – $36K 80 0.02%
OR Eugene – Springfield $47,470 $25K – $73K N/A N/A
OR Portland – Vancouver – Hillsboro $46,620 $19K – $93K 100 0.01%
PA Allentown – Bethlehem – Easton $29,710 $25K – $48K 30 0.01%
PA Harrisburg – Carlisle $32,140 $25K – $67K 60 0.02%
PA Philadelphia (Metro Area) $39,780 $25K – $108K 230 0.01%
PA Pittsburgh $36,360 $29K – $47K 150 0.01%
PA Scranton – Wilkes – Barre $30,400 $21K – $44K 50 0.02%
PR San Juan – Caguas – Guaynabo $29,100 $17K – $44K 160 0.02%
RI Providence – Fall River – Warwick $48,990 $27K – $74K 50 0.01%
SD Sioux Falls $27,830 $18K – $39K 40 0.03%
TN Memphis $47,100 $19K – $66K 100 0.02%
TN Nashville – Davidson – Murfreesboro – Franklin $46,360 $35K – $65K 230 0.03%
TX Austin – Round Rock – San Marcos $31,580 $17K – $56K 100 0.01%
TX Dallas – Plano – Irving (Metro Area) $21,860 $16K – $63K 250 0.01%
TX Fort Worth – Arlington (Metro Area) $47,260 $20K – $90K 100 0.01%
TX Houston – Sugar Land – Baytown $20,080 $16K – $62K 330 0.01%
TX San Antonio – New Braunfels $49,680 $26K – $60K 100 0.01%
TX Tyler $21,890 $16K – $62K N/A N/A
UT Salt Lake City $55,340 $33K – $73K 170 0.03%
VA Richmond N/A N/A – N/A 100 0.02%
VA Virginia Beach – Norfolk – Newport News $51,640 $19K – $75K 50 0.01%
WA Seattle – Bellevue – Everett (Metro Area) $45,130 $32K – $76K 410 0.03%
WA Spokane N/A N/A – N/A 70 0.04%
WI Green Bay $32,380 $17K – $48K 40 0.03%
WI Madison $30,960 $18K – $54K 100 0.03%
WI Milwaukee – Waukesha – West Allis $34,390 $17K – $73K N/A N/A

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