Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
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.
Training Required
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.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 12% (Faster than average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Advancement
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.
Licenses/Certifications
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.
Median pay: How much do Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators make?
$59,040 Annual Salary
$28.39 per hour

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.

What do Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators do?

Film and video editors and camera operators typically do the following:

  • Shoot and record television programs, motion pictures, music videos, documentaries, or news and sporting events
  • Organize digital footage with video-editing software
  • Collaborate with a director to determine the overall vision of the production
  • Discuss filming and editing techniques with a director to improve a scene
  • Select the appropriate equipment, such as the type of lens or lighting
  • Shoot or edit a scene based on the director’s vision

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:

Careers for Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

  • Assistant camera operators
  • Assistant editors
  • Cinematographers
  • Cue selectors
  • Electronic news gathering camera operators
  • Electronic news gathering editors
  • Film editors
  • Motion picture camera operators
  • Movie editors
  • Movie shot camera operators
  • News camera operators
  • News video editors
  • News videographers
  • News videotape editors
  • Studio camera operators
  • Tape editors
  • Television camera operators
  • Television news video editors
  • Video camera operators
  • Video tape transferers
  • Videographers

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