Cameraman Job Information and Training Requirements

Mar 26, 2021

There are multiple career paths available for those who have skills with a camera. Cameramen can work freelance or as videographers for a variety of industries, including television, news, documentaries and more. Cameramen will likely need some computer and editing skills as well as an associate's degree in video production, broadcasting or another related field.

Essential Information

Working under the supervision of cinematographers or directors of photography, cameramen frame and shoot scenes for television, movies, and news and sporting events. An associate's or bachelor's degree gives a cameraman necessary training on theoretical and technical aspects of camera handling and shot framing. Both formal and informal continuing education helps the cameraman keep abreast of technological advances in the industry.

Required Education Associate's degree
Other Requirements Bachelor's and master's degrees are available for advancement
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)* 14% for camera operators, television, video and motion picture
Median Salary (2019)* $55,160 for camera operators, television, video and motion picture

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Options

Fields of operation for cameramen can include television, movies, news, sports, documentaries and music videos. Additionally, there are various categories of cameramen. Freelance cameramen work as independent contractors with entities such as studios, independent filmmakers or advertising agencies. Videographers generally tape private events, such as weddings or business gatherings, which are often incorporated into a company's website.

Studio camera operators work in broadcast or motion picture studios. Depending on the context of the situation, they may use video or film cameras. News camera operators are also known as electronic news-gathering (ENG) operators. Working in tandem with journalists, they record images for news stories.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for television, video, motion picture and camera operators are projected to increase 14% over the 10-year period from 2019-2029. In May, 2019, the median annual salary for this group was $55,160.

Training Requirements

Prospective cameramen should be trained in practical and theoretical aspects of angles, editing and shot composition. Because of the increasing use of digital camera work, computer skills are of prime importance in any training program. The use of editing software and processing should be emphasized. Production preparation, lighting, cinematography, camera operation and post-production processes should be covered. Additionally, gaining work experience at a college television studio or interning at a small station or independent production company provides exceptional practical training.

Formal Education

Although there is a certain amount of on-the-job training that comes with the position of camera operator, employers generally require applicants to have at least an associate's degree in a field such as video production or broadcasting to qualify for entry-level work as a production assistant. Colleges, technical schools and institutes offer training in subjects such as camera handling, use of broadcast and video equipment, digital editing and video processing, lighting and concepts of audiovisual technology. Freelance cameramen, especially, should also take courses that teach appropriate business skills, including contracts, job bidding, copyright protection, bookkeeping and permission releases.

Continuing Education Information

Organizations like the Society of Camera Operators and the American Society of Cinematographers offer professional development courses, workshops and seminars that keep camera operators abreast of industry developments and technological advances. Participation in training programs, such as those offered by these groups, as well as completion of a master's program, can pave the way for a camera operator to become a cinematographer, video director, director or executive producer.

Cameramen work with studios, advertising agencies and event companies taking videos and pictures. They typically need an associate's degree in a relevant field to get started, in addition to practical skills with camera equipment, editing and computers.

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