How to Become a Camera Operator

Become a Camera Operator

In our review of different careers, we take a look at how to become a camera operator.  We will also take a look at what a camera operator does and what skills and attributes are required to become a camera operator.

What Does a Camera Operator Do?

A camera operator records the images that are used for TV, film, music videos, and adverts. A camera operator sets up the equipment and resolve and technical or lighting issues that become apparent throughout the shoot.  The camera operator would follow instructions from the cinematographer or the director.

As a camera operator, you day to day work might entail such things as setting up your equipment, planning and rehearsing shots, choosing the most appropriate camera angles and lenses to use, and following instruction from the director, floor manager or camera script.  You will also need to work closely with the sound and lighting department.

The working hours for a camera operator can be long and irregular, and your working day will depend entirely on how long it takes to get things filmed correctly.  You might also need to work at short notice and in all weather conditions.

Is Becoming a Camera Operator Right For Me?

The following skills and attributes are desirable for anyone wishing to become a camera operator:

  • Excellent stamina and fitness
  • Good practical skills
  • Good hand-eye coordination
  • The ability to listen and follow instructions
  • Attention to detail
  • Patience
  • Excellent teamwork skills

How Much Can a Camera Operator Earn?

The pay for a camera operator varies, you could be paid a salary, in which case your rate of pay could be anywhere between £14,000 and £50,000 depending on skills and experience and who you work for, or you could be self-employed and paid by the day and could earn anywhere from £150 to £600 a day.

What Qualifications Do I Need To Become a Camera Operator?

You do not have to have a degree to become a camera operator but considering how many people with degrees are desperate to break into the film and TV industry you would be very lucky to get a job without one.  A degree in photography or any media related subject would be helpful to assist you in getting a job as a camera operator.