Film and Video Editor or Camera Operator

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Salary Range: $60,000 to $79,999

Average Hourly: $29.76

Education: Bachelor's degree

Number of Jobs: 63,300

Jobs Added to 2029: 18,300

Growth: Much faster than average



Go here to see salary and job data specific to the United Kingdom.

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.

Duties

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

Camera operators, television, video, and film held about 30,300 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of camera operators, television, video, and film were as follows:
Self-employed workers 36%
Motion picture and video industries 21
Radio and television broadcasting 17
Professional, scientific, and technical services 5
Government 3

Film and video editors held about 33,000 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of film and video editors were as follows:

Self-employed workers 38%
Motion picture and video industries 36
Television broadcasting 7
Professional, scientific, and technical services 6

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 , 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.


Job Outlook

Overall employment of film and video editors and camera operators is projected to grow 29 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 8,600 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.


How to Become a Film and Video Editor or Camera Operator

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

Education

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.

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.

Training

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.

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.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Film and video editors and camera operators must communicate with other members of a production team, including producers and directors, to ensure that the project goes smoothly.

Computer skills. Film and video editors must use sophisticated editing software.

Creativity. Film and video editors and camera operators should be able to imagine what the result of their filming or editing will look like to an audience.

Detail oriented. Editors look at every frame of film and decide what should be kept or cut in order to maintain the best content.

Hand–eye coordination. Camera operators need to be able to move about the action while holding a camera steady.

Physical stamina. Camera operators may need to carry heavy equipment for long periods, particularly when they are filming on location.

Visual skills. Film and video editors and camera operators must see clearly what they are filming or editing in the postproduction process.


United Kingdom Job Data

Source

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators, at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/film-and-video-editors-and-camera-operators.htm (visited ).