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Camera Technician: Job Description & Requirements

Camera technicians work with various types of camera equipment and must know the processes of film and photo captures. Read on to learn about the training and skills required, in addition to the benefits of entering this occupation.

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Career Definition for a Camera Technician

Camera technicians, also known as cinematographers and camera operators, use their artistic and technical savvy to operate, adjust and repair cameras. Typical duties of a camera technician range from calibrating specific camera components to disassembling and repairing electrical and mechanical parts. Besides cleaning and checking operational status of camera and equipment parts, camera technicians may also be brought on to operate cameras during filming and adjust the angles, footage process and sometimes to instruct other camera operators on variables of filming and technical operation.

Education On the job training; bachelor's degree in film and TV, digital media, or electronics recommended
Job Skills Camera control, film and photo capture, troubleshooting, following directions
Median Salary (2015)* $49,080 for camera operators
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 2% for camera operators

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Camera technicians and others working in camera operation and cinematography commonly seek and complete internships and on-the-job training as part of their career education. While a percentage of employers may hire individuals with a high school diploma, due to the pace of technology and the high degree of technical knowledge required, employers of camera technicians often require a bachelor's degree in film and television, digital media or electronics. Associate and master's degrees do exist in relevant subjects; however, a bachelor's degree supplemented by training through a studio or production company remains common practice.

Skills Required

Camera technicians must be able to control cameras with a high degree of operational and technical knowledge. Additionally, camera technicians must have an understanding of the electronic and mechanical processes cameras use to film or to capture photos. Strong troubleshooting skills and the ability to follow directions through diagrams, manuals or instruction are also critical.

Economic and Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects an influx in the number of applicants for jobs in camera operations to increase the level of competition nationwide. Computer and other technical skills will offer a greater edge for those applying for camera technician positions now and in the future. According to the BLS, the median salary for camera operators was $49,080 in 2015, with variance in salary based on company, location and the applicant's level of experience.

Alternate Career Options

For other options working with cameras, check out these careers:

Photographer

Many photographers learn technical skills in postsecondary programs, although a bachelor's degree is usually only required for scientific and industrial photographers, as well as photojournalists. In general, photographers use their creativity and expertise to compose and preserve photographic images. Slower than average employment growth of 3% was anticipated by the BLS for photographers, from 2014-2024. In 2015, they earned an annual median wage of $31,710, per the BLS.

Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technician

Normally earning a postgraduate certificate or an associate's degree, these technicians set up and operate electrical equipment used for television broadcasts, movies, sound recordings and concerts. The BLS reported an annual median salary for these techs of $41,780 in 2015 and predicted average job growth of 7% during the 2014-2024 decade.

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