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Career Profile: Camera Operators, Television, Video, and Film

Operate television, video, or film camera to record images or scenes for television, video, or film productions.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 30,300 people employed as camera operators, television, video, and film in the United States. The median annual salary is $57,200. Entry level employees earn approximately $29,140 per year and senior employees earn approximately $123,220 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • View films to resolve problems of exposure control, subject and camera movement, changes in subject distance, and related variables.
  • Direct studio productions.
  • Assemble studio sets and select and arrange cameras, film stock, audio, or lighting equipment to be used during filming.
  • Read and analyze work orders and specifications to determine locations of subject material, work procedures, sequences of operations, and machine setups.
  • Set up cameras, optical printers, and related equipment to produce photographs and special effects.
  • Read charts and compute ratios to determine variables such as lighting, shutter angles, filter factors, and camera distances.
  • Set up and operate electric news gathering (ENG) microwave vehicles to gather and edit raw footage on location to send to television affiliates for broadcast.
  • Write new scripts for broadcasts.
  • Design graphics for studio productions.
  • Label and record contents of exposed film and note details on report forms.
  • Prepare slates that describe the scenes being filmed.
  • Stay current with new technologies in the field by reading trade magazines.
  • Reload camera magazines with fresh raw film stock.
  • Compose and frame each shot, applying the technical aspects of light, lenses, film, filters, and camera settings to achieve the effects sought by directors.
  • Operate television or motion picture cameras to record scenes for television broadcasts, advertising, or motion pictures.
  • Adjust positions and controls of cameras, printers, and related equipment to change focus, exposure, and lighting.
  • Confer with directors, sound and lighting technicians, electricians, and other crew members to discuss assignments and determine filming sequences, desired effects, camera movements, and lighting requirements.
  • Operate zoom lenses, changing images according to specifications and rehearsal instructions.
  • Observe sets or locations for potential problems and to determine filming and lighting requirements.
  • Set up and perform live shots for broadcast.
  • Use cameras in any of several different camera mounts, such as stationary, track-mounted, or crane-mounted.
  • Test, clean, maintain, and repair broadcast equipment, including testing microphones, to ensure proper working condition.
  • Edit video for broadcast productions, including non-linear editing.
  • Instruct camera operators regarding camera setups, angles, distances, movement, and variables and cues for starting and stopping filming.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
30,300
Annual Openings:
3,900
Increase in Openings by 2030:
24%
Annual Salary Range:
$29,140 - $123,220
Education Requirements:
Bachelor's degree