Cameramen operate the recording equipment for capturing moving images. They may work on motion pictures, in television, for corporations or advertising firms. They may be required to incorporate different technologies, including digital, electronic and film cameras, and work in different environments, such as on location and in the studio. A cameraman is charged with capturing the images realized by the director of the shoot. A professional's salary will vary according to where and for whom he works.
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), during its May 2009 employment survey, gathered wage information from 17,540 individuals working as cameramen throughout the nation. It calculated that the average annual salary for the occupation was $49,590, equivalent to $4,133 a month and $23.84 an hour. The highest earners, those in the top 10 percent, received in excess of $82,600, while their counterparts in the lowest 10 percent earned an average of less than $20,910.
Pay by Industry
The survey by the BLS found that television broadcasting and the motion picture and video industry are the sectors which employ the greatest numbers of cameramen. It gave the average yearly wages in these sectors as $44,130 and $52,440, respectively. Cable and other subscription programming paid an average of $59,090, while cameramen working for federal government agencies earned an average of $63,940.
Pay by Location
Geographical location also impacts upon a cameraman’s wages. Pay analysis website SalaryExpert.com surveyed cameraman wages in some major cities and found that, across all industry sectors, Boston and Phoenix had the highest rates – $74,837 and $57,085, respectively. In contrast, Houston offered $30,684. The BLS reported that Oregon, New Mexico and District of Columbia were the most lucrative states for a cameraman to work in, averaging $73,890, $65,510 and $63,100, respectively. South Dakota, meanwhile, was listed at an average of $26,910.
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment opportunities for cameramen will increase by around 11 percent over the period from 2008 to 2018, salary levels are unlikely to rise significantly. This is because the popularity of the profession as a career means that all vacancies which arise will be keenly competed for. Individuals who are able to adapt to changing technologies, particularly the increased role of digital cameras and Internet broadcasting, may be best-placed to secure employment.