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Camera Assistant: Job Description, Duties and Salary

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a camera assistant. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and career outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

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Camera assistants setup equipment for the crew, whether in-studio or out in the field. The education is not set in stone as this is considered an entry-level job, but various postsecondary courses are available and useful to promote career advancement.

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  • Photo, Film and Video Tech
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Essential Information

Camera assistants are members of technical teams that produce feature films, television programs, and Internet videos. These professionals prepare the equipment that camera operators use to shoot scenes or images. Being a camera assistant is a good way to improve work skills and gain practical experience in preparation for a career as a camera operator. Some postsecondary training is generally required, though a bachelor's degree is recommended for those who want to advance.

Recommended Education Varies; seminars, workshops, associate's or bachelor's
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 2% for camera operators
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $49,080 for camera operators

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Workplace

Camera assistants work in the production of television news, entertainment features, documentaries, and corporate training films. As such, they are often employed by local and national television broadcast stations, cable networks, independent film productions, and major film studios. Thus, work may be conducted both in the field, within a studio, or both. Camera assistants may also be self-employed freelancers who on a contractual basis.

Education

Aspiring camera assistants may look to vocational schools and technical institutes, as well as community colleges and four-year universities for postsecondary courses and programs in cinematography or a related field. Programs may range from seminars and workshops in camera operations to certificate and associate's degrees in cinematography. Coursework typically covers film editing, lighting, and producing. Students in advanced courses may be required to shoot projects allowing them to hone their operating techniques.

Camera Assistant Job Duties

Camera assistants set up and position the camera equipment so that it is ready for the camera operator to use. This may include inspecting the equipment to verify that it is in good working order and loading the camera with film. Camera assistants may also position lighting equipment in preparation for shoots. Once the shoot is complete, assistants may then move equipment back to storage areas.

Camera Assistant Salary and Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide any data on salaries paid to camera assistants; however, it does report that camera operators, who generally begin as camera assistants, within the television, motion picture, and film industries received a median annual salary of $49,080 as of May 2015. Employment for camera operators was expected to increase by 2% from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov).

Becoming a camera assistant provides the experience needed to move to a higher position, and degree programs, workshops, seminars, etc. may help get you there as well.

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