TV or film camera operator

Performing arts and media

Career outlook for TV or film camera operator

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would use film or digital video cameras to shoot films, TV shows, adverts and music videos. You would follow instructions from a director or director of photography.

You would:

  • Set up camera equipment
  • Plan and rehearse shots
  • Follow a camera script and take cues from the director or floor manager
  • Choose lenses and camera angles
  • Solve technical problems such as lighting
  • Work with other technical departments such as lighting and sound

You may be the only camera operator. You would then use a portable single camera.

You could also be part of a TV studio camera team. On feature films and TV drama productions you may be part of a very large crew. You would then have a specific role, such as:

  • Second assistant camera (clapper loader) – load and unload film, count the takes and help the camera crew
  • First assistant camera (focus puller) – judge and adjust the focus on each shot
  • Grip – build and use any cranes and pulleys needed to move a camera during shooting

You would usually specialise in either film or television work. However, thanks to digital cameras and HD technology, camera professionals are finding it easier to work across different areas.

Working conditions


Your hours could often be long and irregular, and may include shift work and nights depending on the production. You may also need to be flexible and work at short notice, particularly for news programmes.


You could work anywhere from studios to outside locations in all weather conditions. You may have to work at heights on cranes or scaffolding.


Location work could be anywhere in the UK or overseas. News camera jobs may involve working under difficult or dangerous conditions such as riots or war zones.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Adaptability
  • Resilience
  • Reliable
  • Time management
  • Implementing ideas
  • Working with technology
  • Verbal communication
  • Cooperating
  • Resourceful
  • Creative

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Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

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Although there are no set qualifications required to enter this role, many camera operators take a college or university course to develop their camera skills before looking for work.

Qualifications in areas like photography, lighting, media production and broadcasting such as Higher National Diploma in Television Production (SCFQ level 8) or degree in photography (SCQF level 9/10) may be of value. 

 It may give you an advantage if you can find a course that offers practical experience and possibly a work placement.

Training is usually on the job.

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • Photography
  • Art and design
  • Media
  • Drama
  • Engineering science
  • Physics

You will also need

A portfolio and showreel of your work to send to employers.

Helpful to have

Once in work you can gain further qualifications such as a Professional Development Award (PDA) in Outside Broadcasting in a Multi Camera Production (SCQF level 9).

There are also a number of industry bodies that can offer relevant training and qualifications such as the Guild of British Camera Technicians (GBCT).