Career Info for a Photography, Film or Video Degree

Sep 28, 2019

Degrees in film, video and photography help students turn ordinary events into something amazing. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for these graduates.

Camera operators, film editors and photographers are all required or recommended to have a degree in photography, film, or video. Formal training will improve their skills and should increase job prospects after graduation.

Essential Information

Those who get their degree or even a certificate in film, video or photography get to work with specialized equipment and learn industry tips that can help them succeed in entry-level positions. Film editors get to manage the post-production process, photographers manipulate different camera effects and camera operators alter compositions and work with high-tech cameras. Most people looking to get a degree in photography, video or film get their bachelor's degree.

Career Camera Operator Film Editor Photographer
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree High school diploma or equivalent
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 8% 14% 6% decline
Mean Salary (2018)* $61,750 annually $86,830 annually $42,770 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Those who get their degree in film, video or photography have many career paths to go down. Many job titles require students to hold a bachelor's degree. Below are descriptions and overviews of three possible careers for these graduates.

Camera Operator

A degree or certificate program in cinematography can benefit individuals who seek careers as camera operators, because these programs generally teach courses in camera operation, scene composition, color theory and lighting. Camera operators use video, TV or motion picture cameras to film newscasts, television programs, motion pictures, live events, music videos and other material. In filming motion pictures, documentaries or television programs, they may work under the supervision of directors and cinematographers to achieve optimal narrative and visual effect. Camera operators who film live events typically possess the ability to make quick decisions to maintain scene composition and narrative quality.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment for camera operators in the television, video and motion picture fields would increase by eight percent between 2018 and 2028 (www.bls.gov). The mean annual salary for these workers was $61,750 in 2018.

Film Editor

Certificate and degree programs in film and video editing can teach students editing techniques and theories, as well as provide an overview of the post-production process. This training can assist students once they enter the professional world and begin to cut television and movie scenes, which are usually filmed multiple times from a variety of angles. Film editors are responsible for selecting the most effective shot for each scene and joining the scenes together to form a logical story. They may cut the scenes that do not aid in the development of the plot. When deciding on which scene to use, editors typically seek the best mixture of performance, photography, timing and consistency.

Film editors, similar to camera operators, can expect strong competition in coming years. BLS predictions indicated that jobs for film and video editors would increase by fourteen percent from 2018-2028. These workers earned a mean annual salary of $86,830 in 2018, according to the BLS.

Photographer

Photographers use knowledge gained through classroom study and practical experience to take digital or traditional photographs. Classes taken through degree or certificate programs can teach students about various camera effects, lenses and digital editing techniques. Photographers use these and other skills to create images that may illustrate a story, create a narrative, record an image or create an artistic effect. Photographers are much more likely than most workers to be self-employed. They may work in a variety of different specializations, from portrait or wedding photography to photojournalism or fine art photography. More photographers are currently using digital cameras as the medium becomes more affordable. Photographers who still work with 35mm film cameras must have access to a darkroom or a developing studio.

The BLS expected employment for photographers to decline by 6% between 2018 and 2028. According to the BLS, the mean annual salary for photographers was $42,770 in May 2018.

Camera operators may film newscasts, TV shows, movies or other material while film editors determine the best shot for each scene and join scenes together to tell the story. Photographers may take portraits, images used for advertising, or artistic pieces that may be displayed and sold. Of the three occupations, film editors are expected to see the most job growth in 2018-2028.

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