Job type

Film or TV Camera operator

£20k - £40k

Typical salary

39 – 41

Hours per week

Camera operators record images for film, television, commercials and online.

More info

  • Operate cameras for film, TV, and video recordings
  • You'll need technical skills, physical fitness for location work, and calmness under pressure
  • Opportunity to specialise in an area like news, wildlife or film, and to progress into cinematography or DOP roles

In this role you'll operate a camera to record moving images for film, television or online use. You could work on feature films, news programmes, commercials, music videos or corporate productions, usually under instruction from the director or director of photography.


  • Setting up camera equipment
  • Choosing the most suitable lenses and camera angles
  • Planning and rehearsing shots
  • Following a camera script
  • Working closely with other technical departments


Hours can be long and irregular, and may include shift work and nights. You may also have to work at short notice. You'll work in studios or outside locations in all weather conditions. You could work anywhere in the UK or overseas, sometimes in difficult or dangerous conditions. You may have to work at height.

You're usually paid a fee for each contract. Rates can vary widely. Contact the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) for current pay guidelines.

You might be the only camera operator, or part of a team. You'll usually specialise in either film or television work as the equipment and techniques can be different. However, with changes in technology it's becoming easier to work across all formats.

You'll need

There are no set requirements. Employers are usually more interested in skills and experience than qualifications, but, you'll need the ability to carry out instructions quickly and accurately, calmness under pressure, patience and concentration, and good levels of stamina and physical fitness.

You could start out as a 'runner' and work your way up by making contacts and getting to hear about unadvertised jobs.

You could take a media production or technology college or university course, or do an apprenticeship to develop some of the skills you'll need.

You can get practical experience and build up your contacts through community film projects, working for a camera equipment hire company, or finding work experience as a runner or camera assistant with a production company.

You may be able to apply for the Guild of British Camera Technicians' Trainee Scheme which offers training and mentoring by experienced people working in the industry. You can also do short courses through the National Film and Television School.


With experience, you could become a camera supervisor, cinematographer or director of photography. You could specialise in a particular field, like underwater filming, aerial photography or wildlife work.