Television Camera Operator / Editor

How to Become a Television Camera Operator
Job Duties of a Television Camera Operator / Editor
Skills and Qualities of Television Camera Operators / Editors
Salaries for Television Camera Operators / Editors
Influential Professionals in this Field
Leading Organizations in this Field
Top Cities for Television Camera Operator / Editor Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Television Camera Operator

A career as a television camera operator/editor can be very exciting! Camera operators learn their trade through either on-the-job training or formal post secondary education. This job is filled with competition and only the best and most determined will succeed, but the results of their efforts are greatly rewarded!

Operators with the most experience and highest computer skills are the most sought after. Companies try to find people with good eyes, imagination, creativity, and technical skill when hiring camera operators. They want someone to make what they are filming to look perfect.

Many schools offer studies in camera operation and videography. Basic courses such as equipment usage, processes, and techniques can be found at most community colleges and universities. Vocational and technical schools will offer more in depth classes with degrees specializing in camera operation, film editing, and videography. It is important that operators have a keen understanding of technology and stay up to date, learning how to use new software and equipment.

Camera operators can get a leg up on competition by first becoming a production assistant where they can learn how to film and see first hand how video production works. Production assistants spend most of their time setting up lights, cameras, and other equipment. Once they have gained this experience camera operators usually begin work within a small market and then work their way up to bigger projects.

What does a Television Camera Operator do?

Television camera operators and editors play a first hand role in entertaining audiences, recording events, and telling stories. They take what they have recorded and edit it before it passes on to any producer so many times their work is rough and very true to life. They shoot a wide range of material and can work on television shows, studio programs, news broadcasts, sporting events, music videos, documentaries, and training sessions.

Whatever they shoot, the material is made up of many different stills of film. This is when the editing work is put to use by combining the different stills and putting together a flowing film. Most of the editing is done through a computer due to the increase in digital technology.

Most videographers find employment with independent television stations, local affiliate stations, large cable networks, or small independent production companies. Depending on the nature of their work, some camera operators get to travel around the world shooting different sporting games, news stories, or events. Others can stay working in the same city for a long period of time if they work for a station with a specific audience, or are shooting for a show that lasts for several seasons.

Working schedules can vary drastically. Operators employed by a television or cable network usually work a normal 5 day 40 hour work week, while many operators/editors may work long days at all different hours in order to meet with the production schedules.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Television Camera Operator / Editor

Often camera operation and editing can be tedious and time consuming. Employees have to work according to other's schedules and sometimes have to report to work at the drop of a hat. Detail oriented, patient, and accurate employees are what production companies are looking for. They also prize people with good communication skills and a good physical condition in order to hold and move the camera for long periods of time.

The more experience one has, the better job they can have with more demanding assignments and positions with larger media markets.

For those camera operators who do freelance work or run their own business, skills are a must. They need to know how to submit bids for a project, write contracts, and get permission to shoot locations.

How much does a Television Camera Operator make?

Many freelance camera operators' earnings fluctuate from year to year. Since they are not employed by a studio or production company they usually have to provide they're own equipment and gear. Depending on the demands of the job, their spending can fluctuate. Some of these freelancers belong to unions like the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees or the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians.

Overall, the median salary for camera operators and editors in May of 2006 was $40,060 per year. Most earned between $26,930 and $59,440 with the highest ten percent earning $84,500.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

In 2003 the International Cinematographers Guild came out with a list of some of the most influential cinematographers, videographers, camera operators, and editors in the field. Topping of the list were Billy Bitzer, Jordan Cronenweth, and Conrad L. Hall. These individuals represented everything that a production company could want in a camera operator. Their talent, technical knowledge and work ethic helped them to create film that reflected their creativity. These individuals were innovative in capturing film that caught the audience's attention in ways that others had never done before.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians is a union that represents employees of television, film and production companies. The organization dates back to 1934 and was originally made up of employees working for the production companies ABC and NBC.

The International Cinematographers Guild is another union that represents only the most talented of camera professionals. Members of this organization make up the most influential and highly esteemed people in the industry.

What are the top cities for Television Camera Operator / Editor jobs?

While there are small television and production companies throughout the U.S., the biggest companies reside in major cities. Los Angeles and New York boast the most production companies by far, but if the thought of living in such a large city is daunting then there are also many smaller companies looking for camera operators for local news shows and community broadcasts.

Currently Los Angles, New York, Seattle, Pittsburgh are in highest need of professionals in this area. High competition can be expected, and those with the highest skills will be rewarded with the best jobs.

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