To become a videographer, there's no doubt you need a creative eye -- but that's just the starting point. On top of that, you need a knack for working with people and making them feel comfortable in front of a camera. Since many videographer jobs are freelance ones, you'll also need sales skills to land you the next gig. And since much of your work will involve technical duties such as lighting, shooting and editing, having a passion for mastering new technology is also really helpful. Start learning the ropes through some basic education, and then seek work experience in TV, film, video or photography to help you hone your skills.
To learn the more tangible skills of the trade, including choosing equipment, shooting, editing, and lighting, pursue a degree or certificate in communications, media, broadcasting or media. This might involve earning a bachelor's degree from a university, but technical and community colleges can also be places to learn the basics of videography. If your area has a community TV station, that can be another place to get free training in the basic skills of the trade. Take classes in photography and videography to train your eyes for shooting, but don't skip over the classes that teach you how to edit video, develop film, light a studio and use recording devices to capture audio.
Armed with some basic skills, start putting them to use. Volunteer to shoot video for the community TV station's newscast to help you meet people and learn the industry lingo. While you're still in school, connect with fellow film and video students who might be in need of crew members to work on their projects. Seek out videography, camera operator or general media internships at TV stations or film studios. Offer to shoot a friend's wedding or graduation, or a promotional video for a friend's business for free.
Building a Demo Reel
As you do work, store your clips in a folder on your computer for use later on as a digital portfolio or "demo reel." Every few months, sort through the work you've done, choose the best clips, and edit them together onto a DVD or digital file. Maintain a website or blog where you can post your reel -- or simply post short clips of individual videos as you produce them, and then use social media to promote them. If you're preparing for a job interview or gig in a certain area, such as a promotional shoot for a business, for example, edit together a new reel that shows your best promo videos. Keep it short and show clips of your best work in the first 20 seconds; generally, demo reels need only be about 90 seconds long.
Videographer jobs are available at TV stations, production companies and private companies looking for in-house marketing and promotion staff. For those jobs, you'll typically need to show you have some experience, so your reel will become invaluable. The other option is starting your own freelance enterprise. Find clients through word-of-mouth -- asking your former clients to refer you -- as well as through networking on LinkedIn, Craigslist, your local chamber of commerce, business networking groups, and industry-specific sites such as Mandy.com or CreativeCOW. You'll also need your own equipment or access to rental equipment. Register yourself as a sole proprietor or form a corporation in your state to avoid paying high self-employment taxes. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, camera operators in the radio and TV broadcasting industry earned a median wage of $41,130 as of May 2013, while those in motion picture and video industries earned a median wage of $60,190.
2016 Salary Information for Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators
Film and video editors and camera operators earned a median annual salary of $59,500 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, film and video editors and camera operators earned a 25th percentile salary of $38,840, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $92,790, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 59,300 people were employed in the U.S. as film and video editors and camera operators.