Career Info for a Degree in Cinematography & Film Production

Cinematography and film production degree programs generally teach students about editing, lighting and sound equipment and techniques. Continue reading for an overview of possible majors as well as career and salary info related to some career options for graduates.

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A degree in cinematography and film production is needed for a career in the television or film industry. Career options include working as a cinematographer or film producer.

Essential Information

Cinematography and film production are two important aspects of a successful TV show or film. Individuals who are interested in pursuing careers in these fields may benefit from an undergraduate or graduate degree or certificate program. Students in cinematography and film production programs typically take courses on media history, ethics, camera use, film editing, digital filmmaking and other subjects related to the art of creating motion pictures. Internship opportunities and film projects may help individuals obtain entry-level positions in the industry.

Career Titles Cinematographers Film Producer (Producers & Directors)
Education Requirements A bachelor's degree in film, broadcasting or a related discipline A bachelor's degree in film, cinema, theater production or a related discipline
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 2% (camera operators) 9%
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $49,080 (camera operators) $68,440

Sources: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options

A degree or certificate in cinematography, film production or a related media discipline can pave the way to a career as a cinematographer or producer. Read on to get more details about these specialized employment opportunities.


Cinematographers determine how each scene in a movie, TV show, advertisement or video will look on camera, as determined by the director's overall plan and instructions for shooting. While these workers may not operate cameras themselves, they're responsible for directing the camera operators and ensuring that shooting proceeds according to plan. This typically involves scouting the location and checking lighting, film, focus, camera distance and angles. In post-production, they may oversee editing and cutting.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment for camera operators, including cinematographers, was expected to grow by just two percent between 2014 and 2024, and individuals can expect tough competition for open positions ( The median annual salary for cinematographers was $49,080 in May 2015, according to the BLS.

Film Producer

Film producers plan and manage the technical and artistic resources for films. These professionals oversee the overall process of film production and may coordinate actors, film production personnel, technicians, directors and other workers. They may also oversee the budget and recruitment of staff, arrange and supervise script development and coordinate the locations, sets and equipment. Film producers typically must have comprehensive experience in the motion picture industry as well as proven entrepreneurial ability.

The BLS notes that employment for producers and directors was anticipated to increase by nine percent between 2014 and 2024. According to the BLS, as of 2015, the median annual salary for producers and directors was $68,440. However, because many producers are entrepreneurs, their earnings often depend on the size and success of the production, overhead costs, financing and other factors.

Cinematographers are responsible for the look of each scene filmed for a commercial, TV show or movie. Film producers oversee budgets, staff, script development and all aspects of creating a film from start to finish. A career as a cinematographer or film producer can be pursued with a bachelor's degree in cinematography and film production.

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