TV or film camera operator

Camera operators record images for film, television, commercials and online.

Annual Salary


Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours


Future employment

There will be 3% more TV or film camera operator jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

You'll record moving images for film, television or online use. You could work on feature films, news programmes, commercials, music videos or corporate productions, usually under instruction from the director or director of photography.

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • setting up camera equipment
  • choosing the most suitable lenses and camera angles
  • planning and rehearsing shots
  • following a camera script
  • working closely with other technical departments

You might be the only camera operator, or part of a  team.

You'll usually specialise in either film or television work as the equipment and techniques can be different. However, with changes in technology it’s becoming easier to work across all formats.


You can take a university course to develop your camera skills before looking for work. Relevant courses include degrees in media production, media technology or photography.

It may give you an advantage if you can find a course that offers practical experience and possibly a work placement.

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree


You can take a college course like:

  • Level 2 Diploma In Creative Media Production & Technology
  • Level 3 Certificate in Media Techniques
  • Level 3 Diploma in Photography

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a level 3 course


You may be able to get into this career through an advanced apprenticeship in creative and digital media.

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), usually including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

Other Routes

There are no set requirements. Employers are usually more interested in skills and experience than qualifications.

You could start out as a ‘runner’ and work your way up by making contacts and getting to hear about unadvertised jobs. 

You could take a media production or technology college or university course, or get paid or unpaid experience and build up your contacts by working:

  • on community film projects
  • for a camera equipment hire company
  • as a runner or camera assistant with a production company

You could apply for the Guild of British Camera Technicians' (GBCT) trainee scheme.

You can also do short courses through the National Film and Television School.


You're usually paid a fee for each contract.

Rates can vary widely.

Contact the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) for current pay guidelines.


Hours can be long and irregular, and may include shift work and nights.

You may also have to work at short notice.

You’ll work in studios or outside locations in all weather conditions.

You could work anywhere in the UK or overseas, sometimes in difficult or dangerous conditions.

You may have to work at height.

With experience, you could become a camera supervisor, cinematographer or director of photography.

You could specialise in a particular field, like underwater filming, aerial photography or wildlife work.

You can get more advice about how to become a camera operator from ScreenSkills.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • the ability to carry out instructions quickly and accurately
  • calmness under pressure
  • patience and concentration
  • good levels of stamina and physical fitness
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