TV / Film Camera Operator

Job Description:

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

Job Category:
Tourism, Hospitality & Entertainment

What you will do:

You’ll record moving images for film, television or online use. You could work on feature films, news programmes, documentaries, commercials, music videos or corporate productions, usually under instruction from the director or director of photography.

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • 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

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:

  • knowledge of media production and communication
  • broadcasting and telecommunications knowledge
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptability skills)
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things (creative skills)
  • excellent verbal communication skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a TV or Film Camera Operator, you don’t typically need specific subjects. However, a strong educational foundation can be beneficial for this career, and there are some subjects that can be useful in developing relevant skills and knowledge. Camera Operators are responsible for operating video cameras to capture footage for various media productions. Here are some subjects that can be helpful:

  1. Media Studies: This subject can provide valuable insights into the world of media production, including camera techniques, lighting, and editing. It’s a subject that’s directly related to the field of TV and film.
  2. Art and Design: Courses in art and design can help you develop an artistic and creative eye, which is essential for composing shots and understanding visual aesthetics.
  3. Photography: photography courses can provide you with a fundamental understanding of photography techniques, composition, and working with cameras.
  4. English: Good communication skills are crucial in the film and television industry. A strong command of the English language, both written and spoken, is beneficial for interpreting scripts, working with directors, and conveying ideas effectively.
  5. Physics: Physics can provide you with insights into the principles of light, optics, and lenses, which are directly relevant to camera operation.

Post School

There are no set requirements. Employers are usually more interested in skills and experience than qualifications.

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 get paid or unpaid experience and build up your contacts by working:

  • on community film projects
  • for a camera equipment hire company
  • as a runner or camera assistant with a production company

In the UK, you could apply for the Guild of British Camera Technicians’ (GBCT) trainee scheme.

You could get into this job through an advanced apprenticeship.

Working Hours and Environment:

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.

Career Path & Progression:

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.