Film and Video Editor or Camera Operator

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Job Outlook:
Faster than average
Education: Bachelor's degree
Work From Home
Average: $62,420.00
Average: $30.01

What Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators Do

Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate images that entertain or inform an audience. Camera operators capture a wide range of material for television, movies, and other media. Editors arrange footage shot by camera operators and collaborate with producers and directors to create the final content.


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

  • Shoot and record television programs, films, 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 supervise one or more assistants. The assistants set up the camera equipment and may be responsible for its storage and care. Assistants 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 the 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:

Cinematographers film motion pictures. They usually work with a team of camera operators and assistants. Cinematographers 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. Other cinematographers function as a film’s artistic director. For information about these workers, see art directors.

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.

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. 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.

Work Environment

Film and video editors and camera operators
Camera operators work in a variety of conditions and may have to stand for long periods.

Camera operators, television, video, and film held about 36,500 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of camera operators, television, video, and film were as follows:

Self-employed workers 33%
Motion picture and video industries 27
Professional, scientific, and technical services 10
Government 2

Film and video editors held about 51,000 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of film and video editors were as follows:

Motion picture and video industries 37%
Self-employed workers 34
Professional, scientific, and technical services 10

Film and video editors and camera operators typically work in studios or offices. 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 shoot for movies or television 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 Schedules

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.

Getting Started

How to Become a Film and Video Editor or Camera Operator

Film and video editors and camera operators
Most editor and camera operator positions require a bachelor's degree in a field related to film or broadcasting.

Film and video editors and camera operators typically need a bachelor’s degree in a field related to film or broadcasting.


Film and video editors and camera operators typically need a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation. The degree is often in film, broadcasting, or a related fine and performing arts or communications field. 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.


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.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

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.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of film and video editors and camera operators is projected to grow 7 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 8,200 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.


Projected employment of film and video editors and camera operators varies by occupation (see table).

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 film and video editors and camera operators.

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.

Contacts for More Information

For more information about film and video editors and camera operators, visit

Motion Picture Editors Guild

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of film and video editors and camera operators.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2022
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians Broadcast, Sound, and Video Technicians

Broadcast, sound, and video technicians set up, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment for media programs.

See How to Become One $53,960
Editors Editors

Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication.

Bachelor's degree $73,080
Multimedia artists and animators Special Effects Artists and Animators

Special effects artists and animators create images that appear to move and visual effects for various forms of media and entertainment.

Bachelor's degree $98,950
Photographers Photographers

Photographers use their technical expertise, creativity, and composition skills to produce and preserve images.

High school diploma or equivalent $40,170
Producers and directors Producers and Directors

Producers and directors make business and creative decisions about film, television, stage, and other productions.

Bachelor's degree $85,320
Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts News Analysts, Reporters, and Journalists

News analysts, reporters, and journalists keep the public updated about current events and noteworthy information.

Bachelor's degree $55,960

Information provided by CareerFitter, LLC and other sources.

Sections of this page includes information from the O*NET 27.3 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

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