Between the Lights and Action: A...

Between the Lights and Action: A Profile of Camera Operators

by Anthony Teles
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

The television shows, movies, and videos we watch come to life thanks to a team effort. One of the parts of that team is the camera operator. These are the people who have their eyes glued to the camera to make sure they record what is happening on set. You might not see them, but they oversee everything you watch. It is a challenging and exciting career that allows you to bring something to life that people will view and enjoy for years to come.

Working with a digital or film camera, operators must record television shows, movies, documentaries, and live events. Before filming starts, they have to set up the equipment that will be used, and then take it apart and put it away after shooting is finished. The three types of camera operators are studio operators, cinematographers, and videographers.

A studio operator works on a set and in broadcasting. Cinematographers might be working in a variety of locations depending on where the movie takes place. Videographers film special events such as weddings or documentaries for big companies. This work requires long hours and carrying heavy equipment. It can be very stressful and demanding. It also offers great variety and the reward of being part of a team putting together a big production that will be seen by many people.

Camera operators can expect to start out making a salary of about $31,000 per year. This can go up to over $97,000, with the median amount being $48,821. The hourly wage can range from $15.75 to over $37 depending on location and experience. A lot of competition for job positions is expected in the coming years. From 2015 to 2024, there will be about 5,900 job openings and 8,900 people looking for positions. Luckily, there are a lot of different projects that a camera operator can do.

Operators are expected to complete a college program in film or broadcasting, and may need experience as an assistant camera operator before finding a job as a camera operator. As you gain experience, you can build a portfolio and experience to help you find more jobs. Operators often start out working for private companies filming projects such as commercials. They can eventually find work in television, where they will have more regular hours. The movie industry is another option, which can involve working in studios, outdoors, and lots of travel. Some jobs are more stable, while others are short-term projects. You will have to find another project when the one you are working on comes to an end.

The world of television, movies, special events, and more are filled with excitement and wonder. Being a camera operator lets you meet numerous types of people and work on many different types of projects. It is the perfect line of work for someone who loves cinema and shows, and wants a flexible job with the freedom to do different projects. If this sounds like the perfect career for you, start practicing with the camera in your pocket by pulling out your phone. From there, keep finding all the opportunities you can to be behind a camera. You love watching shows, movies, and videos. Start making them yourself!


Job Bank. “Film and Video Camera Operators.” https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/report-eng.do?area=9219&lang=eng&noc=5222&action=final&ln=n&s=3#report_tabs_container2

PayScale. “Camera Operator, Television, Video, or Motion Picture Salary.” https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Camera_Operator%2C_Television%2C_Video%2C_or_Motion_Picture/Salary

Leave a comment!