Projectionist: Education Requirements and Career Information

Sep 23, 2019

Projectionists require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties, job growth projections and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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A projectionist works in a movie theater where they are in charge of the equipment that projects movies onto a screen. Other daily tasks often include maintaining equipment, preparing film reels, and operating numerous machines at the same time. A projectionist does not require a formal education, but previous experience working with audio visual equipment might be beneficial when seeking employment.

Essential Information

Projectionists operate and maintain the equipment that shows a film in a motion picture theater. Some workers are part of a union, such as the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. A high school diploma or the equivalent is sufficient education for this job. However, experience with projection equipment or audio visual equipment can be helpful. This occupation is expected to show significant declines in employment over the next decade.

Required Education High school diploma or GED certificate
Job Outlook (2018-2028)* -12% decline for motion picture projectionists
Median Salary (2018)* $22,760 for motion picture projectionists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Education Requirements for Projectionists

To secure a job as a projectionist, experience, talent and creativity are generally regarded higher than a college degree. For some professionals, a high school diploma is the highest level of education earned. Many aspiring projectionists can take audio and visual courses in high school and then gain experience by working on personal projects, such as documentary and business related films, prior to moving on to more advanced positions.

While there are not specific degree requirements for aspiring projectionists, gaining formal training may help professionals find a job. There are many colleges and vocational schools that offer training for projectionists with core courses including:

  • Digital arts
  • Editing
  • Video storytelling
  • Cinematography
  • Screenwriting
  • Production of documentary films

Career Information for Projectionists

Projectionists are responsible for different tasks, including inserting film into reels, splicing film reels and doing routine maintenance on different machines. Another important part of a projectionist's job is monitoring various pieces of equipment to ensure that everything is working properly. Often, a projectionist runs multiple machines simultaneously and needs to pay close attention to each piece of equipment.


Most professional projectionists work for companies that are members of a union. While it is not always mandatory for professionals to be recognized by a union, non-members may miss out on job opportunities or possibilities of advancement.

Unions offer different programs and benefits for members. A popular union for projectionists is the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which offers scholarship programs for children of union members and updated information about the field.

Job Outlook for Salary Info

The BLS predicts the need for projectionists to decline by 12% between 2018 and 2028, which represents a fairly dramatic loss of job opportunities. As of May 2018, the BLS reported that motion picture projectionists earned a median annual salary of $22,760.

Coursework at a community college or vocational school might give aspiring projectionists an advantage during their job hunt. These courses include subjects such as cinematography, digital arts, and screenwriting. The estimated 12% decline in projectionist jobs over the 2018-2028 decade, as reported by the BLS, indicates that prospects for this profession are not favorable.

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