Commercial Camera Man Career Information

Mar 01, 2019

Commercial cameramen, or camera operators, control television, video, or motion picture cameras to capture images for TV broadcasts, ads, video productions, or motion pictures. Read further to learn about how to enter this profession, in addition to finding out the rewards you might expect from your work.

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Career Definition for Commercial Camera Operators

Much of the entertainment industry relies on moving images and the number and quality of cameramen, or camera operators, who capture these images are as varied as the types of cameras. In addition to learning the limitations and mechanical functions of their tools, commercial cameramen are trained in the aesthetics of cinematography, in some cases elevating the purely technical task of recording pictures to an art form. They use lighting, shadow, exposure, focal length, and framing to help a director capture a mood and shape a story.

Education Bachelor's degree in arts recommended
Job Skills Technical and mechanical ability, negotiation, artistic sensibility
Median Salary (2017)* $53,550 for camera operators
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 7% increase for camera operators

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

Training opportunities for commercial cameramen vary widely. Institutes, which may offer courses in cinematography or videography, include liberal arts colleges, vocational schools, and photographic institutes, and the ready availability of video cameras makes it easy for anyone to familiarize themselves with the basics. Jobs in television studios or on movie sets likely require a bachelor's degree in the arts and several years' experience in professional productions.

Skills Required

Good technical and mechanical abilities are required to negotiate the increasingly complex details involved in operating cameras, recording images, and negotiating the limitations of lighting and terrain. Carrying larger cameras or vibration-canceling harnesses may require considerable strength and stamina. Good artistic sensibilities are helpful when making aesthetic decisions, establishing mood, and adjusting light sources. The growing use of computers in editing and video capture increases the importance of good computer skills. Entrepreneurs will need a good business sense and an understanding of the legal issues regarding permissions and releases for photographic subjects.

Career and Employment Outlook

The average annual wage for camera operators in television broadcasting in May 2017 was $53,550, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. From 2016-2026, jobs are expected to grow as fast as average, at 7%, compared with other career fields, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Growing markets for video productions will be offset by keen competition for jobs and increased automation.

Alternate Career Options

You might think about these other options for careers in camera work:


Postsecondary programs aren't usually required, except for industrial and scientific photographers, in addition to photojournalists, although many aspiring photographers benefit from classes that help them learn the various technical aspects. An average employment decline of 6% was projected by the BLS from 2016-2026 for photographers, and an annual median salary of $32,490 was reported in 2017.

Film and Video Editor

Normally needing a bachelor's degree in broadcasting, film, or a related field, these editors work alongside producers and directors, organizing the final productions of movies, videos, and television shows. In 2017, the BLS reported an annual median wage of $61,180 and predicted significant change in the number of jobs during the 2016-2026 decade, with 17% growth expected.

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