Cameraman Education Requirements and Career Info

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a cameraman. Get an overview of the requirements as well as details about education and job duties to determine if this is the career for you.

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To be a cameraman, the educational requisites vary, but usually an associate's or bachelor's degree is needed, both of which provide classroom and hands-on training. Each program contains a different curriculum. Cameramen can work in various settings where they must know what camera to use and how to shoot it.

Essential Information

A cameraman, also referred to as a camera operator, handles a film or television camera to record scenes for newscasts, motion pictures, TV shows, and live events. A cameraman is usually part of a camera crew who works closely with directors, actors and other members of a production team to make creative and technical decisions. Candidates should pursue a postsecondary degree in video/television production or film.

Required Education Associate's degree in video production; bachelor's degree in television production or film may be required for some positions
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 2% for camera operators in television, video, and motion picture
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $49,080 for camera operators in television, video, and motion picture

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Cameraman Career Description

A cameraman is responsible for recording shots for a variety of film and broadcast purposes. They use technical aspects of lenses, filters, zooms and other camera settings to capture scenes to the liking of clients and film directors. Cameramen also clean, test and maintain camera equipment. They must analyze sets for potential challenges during filming and give instruction to other film crew members concerning set-up, distance, angles and lighting.

Depending on the type of video being filmed, a cameraman's equipment may vary. For instance, cameramen filming news broadcasts likely use stationary cameras, while motion picture cameramen might use a combination of crane-mounted and track-mounted cameras to better capture movement and scenery. Many cameramen also do their own video editing through a variety of computer programs.

A cameraman can work in a variety of settings, including in television studios, production studios, sports venues or at private events such as weddings. They may also work on location at remote destinations for films, music videos, documentaries, commercials, short films or advertisements for the Web. Those interested in the field of camera operation should be knowledgeable of computer software and hardware, electronics and media production. They should also be creative thinkers, efficient problem-solvers and have the ability to evaluate details at close range and from a distance.

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Education Requirements

While a bachelor's degree is highly desirable for those trying to get into film or video editing, a cameraman career can begin upon earning an associate's degree in video production. Programs may range from 2-4 years, depending on the level of award.

During an Associate of Applied Science in Video Production program, students receive in-depth instruction on concept development, sound, lighting, storyboarding, editing and motion graphics. Coursework may include field production and lighting, video manipulation, camera operations, basic editing, sound for video and production management. Participants may also train with industry-specific computer software programs such as Photoshop or Final Cut Pro.

Those who want to further their education might consider pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Television Production or Bachelor of Arts in Film. Through a television production baccalaureate program, students learn about TV history, theory and basic forms of production. Coursework may include such classes as picture and sound editing, broadcast news gathering, media research, broadcast writing, advanced television production, visual design, telecommunications management and media law. In a film-oriented program, students take classes on the history of motion picture, cinematography, film editing, documentary film, digital media tools and directing.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), the median annual salary for camera operators was $49,080 as of May 2015. Growth in this field is expected to be slower than average at 2% over the decade spanning 2014-2024. Despite the slow job growth, the increasing number of online and mobile broadcasts may necessitate more camera operators, and competition will be fierce for those working in television.

A cameraman needs the proper skills for operating camera equipment, which can be acquired through training from a bachelor's or associate's program. The higher their education, the higher the potential for career advancement and opportunity.

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