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Performing arts

TV or film camera operator

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

Annual Salary

variable

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

39 to 41 variable

You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; away from home

0.5%
Future employment

There will be 0.5% more TV or film camera operator jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

In your day-to-day duties you might:

  • set up camera equipment
  • choose the most suitable lenses and camera angles
  • plan and rehearse shots
  • follow a camera script
  • work closely with other technical departments
  • repair and maintain camera equipment

Working environment

You could work at a TV studio, at a film studio or on a film set.

Your working environment may be at height, outdoors in all weathers and you may spend nights away from home.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards the role
  • volunteering
  • industry training
University

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 and work experience opportunities like shadowing, internships or a year placement.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
For more information
College

You can take a college course like:

  • Level 3 Diploma In Creative Media Production and Technology
  • Level 3 Diploma in Film and Television Production
  • Level 3 Diploma in Photography
  • T Level in Media, Broadcast and Production

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths for a T Level
For more information
Apprenticeship

You could learn some of the skills and knowledge needed from related apprenticeships like a photographic assistant or a camera prep technician advanced apprenticeship.

You may be able to transfer the skills you learn to the TV or film industry when you have experience.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
For more information
Work

You could start out as a camera assistant and learn while you work from an experienced camera operator.

Volunteering and work experience

You can get practical experience and build up your contacts through:

  • community film projects
  • working for a camera equipment hire company
  • finding work experience as a runner or camera assistant with a production company

Other routes

You may be able to apply for the Guild of British Camera Technicians' Trainee Scheme which offers training and mentoring by experienced people working in the industry. The application process is very competitive.

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

More information

Further information

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

You can find out more about creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.

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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:

  • to be flexible and open to change
  • knowledge of media production and communication
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
  • broadcasting and telecommunications knowledge
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • leadership skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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