What qualifications do I need to be a cameraman?

Updated March 23, 2017

Murder scenes, major political announcements, natural disasters and important sporting events--a cameraman always seems to be in the middle of the action. Those pursuing a media career behind the lens can expect to put it in long hours under stressful conditions and face stiff competition for jobs. If these facts don't deter you, consider the qualifications to become a camera operator or video journalist.


You'll need a bachelor's degree for most camera operator positions, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Universities and technical schools teach aspiring cameramen and women about the technical aspects of camera equipment and the artistic techniques needed to record quality video footage. Completing an internship or part-time job at a television station while in college can add valuable experience to a job seeker's resume

Physical Qualifications

Video cameras, tripods and the other gear needed to cover news and sporting events can be quite heavy. Camera operators may need to carry these items from a news vehicle to a scene that is a considerable distance away. They must also be able to tolerate carrying a camera on their shoulder while shooting video. Video journalists need good eyesight and hand-eye coordination.

Personal Qualities

In some newsrooms, managers expect videographers to cover a story without the assistance of a reporter. For this reason, camera operators need to have an outgoing and friendly demeanour. They should feel comfortable asking questions at a news conference or conducting a one-on-one interview. Good communication skills are important during interviews and to ensure that the video shot meets the reporter and managers' expectations. Because they interact with reporters, editors, news directors and other photographers, camera operators need to be team players. They also need the ability to adapt to the frequently changing assignments required by the news business and should be able to handle the pressure of tight deadlines.

Skills and Abilities

In addition to knowing how to operate a camera and troubleshoot its technical problems, a television photographer needs the creative ability to frame shots well and select the best scenes to record. She must also know how to edit news stories for broadcast and make them visually interesting. Some stations require experience with particular editing software. Employers in larger television markets may look for videographers with several years of experience in smaller markets. They may also require photographers to know how to operate the trucks used for "live" broadcasts from remote locations.

Other Qualifications

Because they drive daily to their assignments, camera operators need a valid driver's license. Some employers also require a good driving record. Some stations require camera operators to fly in a helicopter, so applicants must be physically and mentally able to work in this situation.

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About the Author

Ann Frederick has been a professional writer since 1993. She began her career as a television news producer and then transitioned into public relations, working for local, state and federal government agencies. Her professional awards include a silver ADDY. Frederick holds a Bachelor of Science in communications from Florida State University.