Cinematographers: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

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 multimedia artists and animators.

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

Careers for Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

  • Assistant camera operators
  • Assistant editors
  • 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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