Do you want to make movies as part of a production team? Is your passion shooting videos and taking pictures?

Animated GIF showing the words LIGHTS CAMERA ACTION.

Are you creative? Do you have a good eye for photography, and love recording videos?

If your answer is yes, an exciting career as a camera operator might be your future career path!

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What Do Camera Operators Actually Do?

Image of a steadicam operator shooting a scene with a woman posing on a wrecked airplane.

A camera operator is a media professional who:

  • operates the camera and captures the footage for films, TV programs, news, and other video content.

  • works with directors, cinematographers, and many other crew members to set the shot, film it and create the best visual story of the script.

  • may also work with drone operators, drone pilots, and dolly grips.

Camera operators are also known as:

  • Cameraman/Camerawoman/Cameraperson

  • Professional video camera operator

  • Video camera operator

  • Television camera operator

  • Studio camera operator

  • Steadicam operator

  • Electronic news gathering operator

  • Cinematographer

Wondering If You Have What It Takes?

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As a camera operator, you should have:

  • An artistic eye

  • A technical mind to know well your camera and all film equipment

  • Excellent hand-to-eye coordination

  • Creativity to set unique shots and capture exclusive footage

  • Aptitude to follow instructions of directors, cinematographers, choreographers, and other creative personnel

  • Physical fitness to carry all heavy filming equipment

  • Ability to focus and block out distractions

  • Patience

  • Work well with others in a busy studio or a film location environment

Quiz

How would you describe a good camera operator? Select all that apply.

How Do I Become a Camera Operator?

Image with a cameraman pointing a camera at a woman sitting on the roof of a building.

Do I need a degree?

Not really! There are no essential educational requirements for camera operators. However, a film school diploma will give a camera operator formal qualifications, and open more doors. Check local schools and community colleges offering Film and Broadcasting degrees and certifications.

⚡Guess who has the potential to become a successful Camera Operator!

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Ray wants to find full-time employment and a steady job.

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Robert likes to build robots in his garage with his father.

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Carol is interested in photography and likes to work with people.

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Marley uses a GoPro camera to take videos of her riding a dirt bike for her TikTok channel.

Quiz

Who has the best chance to become a camera operator? Select all that apply.

Will It Pay The Bills?

it's a competitive field and salaries vary significantly depending on the location, employer, and your experience.

Flaticon Icon In the US, the average salary for a camera operator is USD$30k - USD$121k.

Flaticon Icon In Canada, the average salary for a camera operator is C$30k - C$102k.

Flaticon Icon In the UK, a camera operator's annual earnings will range from £20k - £63k.

Is Being A Camera Operator A Good Career?

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Pros of the job:

  • Interesting and creative job

  • Collaboration with other creative people

  • Rewarding results

  • Can pay well

  • May lead to other opportunities in film and TV

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Cons of the job:

  • Potential for extended periods without work between projects

  • Overtime work to meet deadlines

  • Possibly work in uncomfortable conditions or in dangerous locations

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Bob Gorelick, a famous cinematographer who worked on movies like Stranger Things, Pulp Fiction, and The Dark Knight remarked:

It’s not like it’s a good career or a bad career. If it’s what you want to do and you’re really passionate about it, do it.

GIF from the show Stranger Things showing a character running away from apocalyptic destruction  behind her.

Take Action

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If you think it’s the right path for you, there are many ways to get your foot in the door:

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