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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 (2016)*||$53,550 for camera operators|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||7% for camera operators|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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.
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 $53,550 in 2017, 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:
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. A decline of 6% in employment was anticipated by the BLS for photographers from 2016-2026. In 2017, they earned an annual median wage of $32,490, 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 $42,650 in 2017 and predicted average job growth of 8% during the 2016-2026 decade.