Camera operators, also known as videographers, shoot scenes for visual media, including television broadcasts, studio films and documentaries. Although professional camera operators typically hold a bachelor's degree in film production, training programs may provide the technical training needed for smaller productions. Offered by community colleges and film schools, programs in videography, film production and cinematography offer foundational study and hands-on practice in video camera operation and camera technique. Program applicants must have a high school diploma or its equivalent.
Camera Operator Certification and Training Program
Through classroom lecture and hands-on experience, students become familiar with technical aspects, such as frame composition, camera movement and lighting. Students also learn production concepts, such as how camera operators work with a director of photography and how camera crews operate on film and television sets. Other topics of study include:
- Camera shooting techniques
- Set lighting
- Film and digital camera operation
Salary Information and Employment Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2015, the annual mean wage for camera operators working in the television, video and motion picture industries was $59,360 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported an expected 2% employment growth for these camera operators between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also noted that keen competition is expected due to the number of people aspiring to enter the entertainment industries.
An advanced technical study of cinematography further develops camera operation skills and shooting techniques. After learning the essential camera operation and videography skills, camera operators typically work smaller production jobs, eventually moving on to larger and higher-profile productions through professional networking, gaining work experience and developing a professional reputation.
Certification programs offer those interested in becoming camera operators both coursework and hands-on training. Regardless of training, most still have to work their way up from the bottom and gain experience in this competitive industry.