Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Summary

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Quick Facts: Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators
2016 Median Pay $59,040 per year
$28.39 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 59,300
Job Outlook, 2016-26 12% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 7,200

What Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators Do

Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate moving images that entertain or inform an audience.

Work Environment

Film and video editors and camera operators typically work in studios or in office settings. Camera operators and videographers often shoot raw footage on location.

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.

Pay

The median annual wage for camera operators, television, video, and motion picture was $55,080 in May 2016.

The median annual wage for film and video editors was $62,760 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of film and video editors and camera operators is projected to grow 12 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. The number of Internet-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 editors and camera operators.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for film and video editors and camera operators.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of film and video editors and camera operators with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about film and video editors and camera operators by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators Do About this section

Film and video editors and camera operators
Nearly all video editing work is done on a computer.

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.

Duties

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:

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.

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.

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. Some videographers post their work on video-sharing websites for prospective clients. 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 About this section

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 motion picture held about 25,100 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of camera operators, television, video, and motion picture were as follows:

Motion picture and video industries 38%
Radio and television broadcasting 21
Self-employed workers 15
Professional, scientific, and technical services 5
Government 4

Film and video editors held about 34,200 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of film and video editors were as follows:

Motion picture and video industries 58%
Self-employed workers 16
Television broadcasting 9
Professional, scientific, and technical services 5

Film and video editors and camera operators typically work in studios or in office settings. 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 film movies or TV shows 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

Work hours vary with the type of operator or editor, although most work full time. Those who work in broadcasting may put in additional hours to meet a deadline. Those who work in the motion picture industry may have long, irregular hours while filming, but go through a period of looking for work once a film is complete and before they are hired for their next job.

How to Become a Film and Video Editor or Camera Operator About this section

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.

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

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.

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.

Pay About this section

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Median annual wages, May 2016

Film and video editors

$62,760

Film and video editors and camera operators

$59,040

Camera operators, television, video, and motion picture

$55,080

Media and communication equipment workers

$45,680

Total, all occupations

$37,040

 

The median annual wage for camera operators, television, video, and motion picture was $55,080 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,940, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $109,200.

The median annual wage for film and video editors was $62,760 in May 2016. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $27,640, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $162,260.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for camera operators, television, video, and motion picture in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Motion picture and video industries $59,780
Professional, scientific, and technical services 53,800
Government 52,660
Radio and television broadcasting 48,950

In May 2016, the median annual wages for film and video editors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Motion picture and video industries $67,000
Professional, scientific, and technical services 53,970
Television broadcasting 52,710

Work hours vary with the type of operator or editor, although most work full time. Those who work in broadcasting may put in long hours to meet a deadline. Those who work in the motion picture industry may have long, irregular hours while filming, but go through a period of looking for work once a film is complete and before they are hired for their next job.

Job Outlook About this section

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Film and video editors

16%

Film and video editors and camera operators

12%

Total, all occupations

7%

Camera operators, television, video, and motion picture

6%

Media and communication equipment workers

2%

 

Employment of film and video editors is projected to grow 16 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 5,600 new jobs over the 10-year period.

Employment of camera operators is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

The number of Internet-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 editors and camera operators.

In broadcasting, 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.

Job Prospects

Most job openings are projected to be in entertainment hubs such as New York and Los Angeles because specialized editing workers are in demand there. Still, film and video editors and camera operators will face strong competition for jobs. Those with more experience at a TV station or on a film set should have the best prospects. Video editors can improve their prospects by developing skills with different types of specialized editing software.

Employment projections data for film and video editors and camera operators, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Television, video, and motion picture camera operators and editors

27-4030 59,300 66,500 12 7,200 employment projections excel document xlsx

Camera operators, television, video, and motion picture

27-4031 25,100 26,700 6 1,600 employment projections excel document xlsx

Film and video editors

27-4032 34,200 39,800 16 5,600 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

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 Help 2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians

Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians set up, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment for radio programs, television broadcasts, concerts, sound recordings, and movies.

See How to Become One $42,550
Editors

Editors

Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication.

Bachelor's degree $57,210
Multimedia artists and animators

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.

Bachelor's degree $65,300
Photographers

Photographers

Photographers use their technical expertise, creativity, and composition skills to produce and preserve images that tell a story or record an event.

High school diploma or equivalent $34,070
Producers and directors

Producers and Directors

Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, commercials, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

Bachelor's degree $70,950
Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts

Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts inform the public about news and events happening internationally, nationally, and locally. They report the news for newspapers, magazines, websites, television, and radio.

Bachelor's degree $38,870
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/film-and-video-editors-and-camera-operators.htm (visited November 01, 2017).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

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2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2016

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2016, which is the base year of the 2016-26 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2016-26

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.