What They Do: Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate moving images that entertain or inform an audience.
Work Environment: Film and video editors and camera operators typically work in studios or in office settings. Camera operators and videographers often shoot raw footage on location.
How to Become One: Film and video editors and camera operators typically need a bachelor’s degree in a field related to film or broadcasting.
Salary: The median annual wage for television, video, and film camera operators is $49,230. The median annual wage for film and video editors is $62,680.
Job Outlook: Overall employment of film and video editors and camera operators is projected to grow 29 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of film and video editors and camera operators with similar occupations.
Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate images that entertain or inform an audience. Camera operators capture a wide range of material for TV shows, motion pictures, music videos, documentaries, or news and sporting events. Editors take footage shot by camera operators and organize it into a final product. They collaborate with producers and directors to create the final production.
Film and video editors and camera operators typically do the following:
Many camera operators have one or more assistants working under their supervision. The assistants set up the camera equipment and may be responsible for its storage and care. They also help the operator determine the best shooting angle and make sure that the camera stays in focus.
Likewise, editors often have one or more assistants. The assistants support the editor by keeping track of each shot in a database or loading digital video into an editing bay. Assistants also may do some of the editing tasks.
Most operators prefer using digital cameras because these smaller, more inexpensive instruments give them more flexibility in shooting angles. Digital cameras also have changed the job of some camera assistants: Instead of loading film or choosing lenses, they download digital images or choose a type of software program to use with the camera. In addition, drone cameras give operators an opportunity to film in the air, or in places that are hard to reach.
Nearly all editing work is done on a computer, and editors often are trained in a specific type of editing software.
The following are examples of types of camera operators:
Studio camera operators work in a broadcast studio and videotape their subjects from a fixed position. There may be one or several cameras in use at a time. Operators normally follow directions that give the order of the shots. They often have time to practice camera movements before shooting begins. If they are shooting a live event, they must be able to make adjustments at a moment's notice and follow the instructions of the show's director. The use of robotic cameras is common among studio camera operators, and one operator may control several cameras at once.
Cinematographers film motion pictures. They usually have a team of camera operators and assistants working under them. They determine the angles and types of equipment that will best capture a shot. They also adjust the lighting in a shot, because that is an important part of how the image looks.
Cinematographers may use stationary cameras that shoot whatever passes in front of them, or they may use a camera mounted on a track and move around the action. Some cinematographers sit on cranes to film an action scene; others carry the camera on their shoulder while they move around the action.
Some cinematographers specialize in filming cartoons or special effects. For information about a career in animation, see special effects artists and animators.
Videographers film or videotape private ceremonies or special events, such as weddings. They also may work with companies and make corporate documentaries on a variety of topics. Some videographers post their work on video-sharing websites for prospective clients. Most videographers edit their own material.
Many videographers run their own business or do freelance work. They may submit bids, write contracts, and get permission to shoot on locations that may not be open to the public. They also get copyright protection for their work and keep financial records.
Many editors and camera operators, but particularly videographers, put their creative work online. If it becomes popular, they gain more recognition, which can lead to future employment or freelance opportunities.
Television, video, and film camera operators hold about 30,300 jobs. The largest employers of television, video, and film camera operators are as follows:
|Motion picture and video industries||21%|
|Radio and television broadcasting||17%|
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||5%|
Film and video editors hold about 33,000 jobs. The largest employers of film and video editors are as follows:
|Motion picture and video industries||36%|
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||6%|
Film and video editors and camera operators typically work in studios or in office settings. Camera operators and videographers often shoot raw footage on location.
Film and video editors work in editing rooms by themselves, or with producers and directors, for many hours at a time. Cinematographers and operators who film movies or TV shows may film on location and be away from home for months at a time. Operators who travel usually must carry heavy equipment to their shooting locations.
Some camera operators work in uncomfortable or even dangerous conditions, such as severe weather, military conflicts, and natural disasters. They may have to stand for long periods waiting for an event to take place. They may carry heavy equipment while on shooting assignment.
Work hours vary with the type of operator or editor, although most work full time. Those who work in broadcasting may put in additional hours to meet a deadline. Those who work in the motion picture industry may have busy schedules while filming, but they go through a period of looking for work once a film is complete and before they are hired for their next job.
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Film and video editors and camera operators typically need a bachelor's degree in a field related to film or broadcasting.
Most editor and camera operator positions require a bachelor's degree in a field related to film or broadcasting, such as communications. Many colleges offer courses in cinematography or video-editing software. Coursework involves a mix of film theory with practical training.
Film and video editors and camera operators must have an understanding of digital cameras and editing software because both are now used on film sets.
Editors may complete a brief period of on-the-job training. Some employers may offer new employees training in the type of specialized editing software those employers use. Most editors eventually specialize in one type of software, but beginners should be familiar with as many types as possible.
Editors may demonstrate competence in various types of editing software by earning certification, which is generally offered by software vendors. Certification requires passing a comprehensive exam, and candidates can prepare for the exam on their own, through online tutorials, or through classroom instruction.
Experienced film and video editors and camera operators with creativity and leadership skills can advance to overseeing their own projects. For more information, see the profile on producers and directors.
Communication skills. Film and video editors and camera operators must communicate with other members of a production team, including producers and directors, to ensure that the project goes smoothly.
Computer skills. Film and video editors must use sophisticated editing software.
Creativity. Film and video editors and camera operators should be able to imagine what the result of their filming or editing will look like to an audience.
Detail oriented. Editors look at every frame of film and decide what should be kept or cut in order to maintain the best content.
Hand–eye coordination. Camera operators need to be able to move about the action while holding a camera steady.
Physical stamina. Camera operators may need to carry heavy equipment for long periods, particularly when they are filming on location.
Visual skills. Film and video editors and camera operators must see clearly what they are filming or editing in the postproduction process.
The median annual wage for television, video, and film camera operators is $49,230. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,160, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $101,380.
The median annual wage for film and video editors is $62,680. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $37,060, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $138,910.
The median annual wages for television, video, and film camera operators in the top industries in which they work are as follows:
|Motion picture and video industries||$54,500|
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||$49,700|
|Radio and television broadcasting||$47,240|
The median annual wages for film and video editors in the top industries in which they work are as follows:
|Motion picture and video industries||$63,140|
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||$60,360|
Most film and video editors and camera operators work full time, although part-time work is common. Work hours often vary with the type of operator or editor. Those who work in broadcasting may put in additional hours to meet a deadline. Those who work in the motion picture industry may have busy schedules while filming, but they go through a period of looking for work once a film is complete and before they are hired for their next job.
Overall employment of film and video editors and camera operators is projected to grow 29 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations.
About 8,600 openings for film and video editors and camera operators are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
Much of the projected employment growth in these occupations is due to recovery from the COVID-19 recession that began in 2020 and is likely to occur early in the decade as filming operations resume.
The number of online-only platforms, such as streaming services, is likely to increase, along with the number of shows produced for these platforms. This growth may lead to more work for editors and camera operators.
In broadcasting, the consolidation of roles—such as editors who determine the best angles for a shoot, the use of robotic cameras, and the increasing reliance on amateur film footage—may lead to fewer jobs for camera operators. However, more film and video editors are expected to be needed because of an increase in special effects and overall available content.
|Occupational Title||Employment, 2020||Projected Employment, 2030||Change, 2020-30|
|Television, video, and film camera operators and editors||63,300||81,600||29||18,300|
|Camera operators, television, video, and film||30,300||37,600||24||7,300|
|Film and video editors||33,000||43,900||33||11,000|
A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.