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Being a cameraman is exciting, but it does have its moments of tedium. It's a unique career choice for someone who is physical, focused and likes to be around action. Camera operators use digital equipment to capture live action for different forms of broadcasting. Having a background in photography or engineering is handy. College degrees are also helpful but not always required.
Pro: Close to the Action
Working as a cameraman can position you very close to the action. Camera operators are hired to capture live events for film or live broadcast. You could be called upon to film anything from a local flower show to a professional sports game. Cameramen see new and interesting things nearly every time they accept an assignment. You could be sitting across from a local celebrity one day and filming from the football sidelines the next. Operators are hired for jobs with conventions, news broadcasting and racing events. The field keeps you hopping and you'll likely not have much time for just standing around.
Con: Long Work Hours
Since a cameraman is called upon to record live events, he usually works a fair share of evenings, weekends and holidays. Assignments can last over a period of days and a camera operator is usually needed to film various activities during that short period of time. When camera operators are hired for special events like weddings or graduations, they'll work weekends too. It's also hard to escape working holidays as many action-oriented events, like important games, happen around those times of the year as well.
While some camera operators are employed full-time by organizations, it is also a career that allows you to work as an independent contractor. Working independently affords you the ability to deny or accept assignments based on your needs and availability. When you work for yourself, you can choose the assignments that pay more or involve filming events that interest you. Once you build up a clientele, you may also be asked back by the same organizations when the events are repeated, thereby building in your own sense of job security.
Con: It's Physical
Operating a camera for a living has its grueling moments. Often times, standing on your feet for long hours is expected. For example, filming a sporting event could require four or more hours on your feet just filming the game alone. In addition, many camera arrangements require setting up for several hours before the actual event takes place. Camera operators are usually expected to participate in all of these activities which also require carrying heavy equipment before, after and during the occasion.
Based in the Midwest, Gina Scott has been writing professionally since 2008. She has worked in real estate since 2004 and has expertise in pop culture and health-related topics. She has also self-published a book on how to overcome chronic health conditions. Scott holds a Master of Arts in higher-education administration from Ball State University.