How Much Does a Cameraman Make?

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How Much Does a Cameraman Make?
A cameraman requires creativity, accuracy and the ability to plan shots down to the second. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

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 realised by the director of the shoot. A professional's salary will vary according to where and for whom he works.

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Average Pay

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 £32,233, equivalent to £2,686 a month and £15.50 an hour. The highest earners, those in the top 10 per cent, received in excess of £53,690, while their counterparts in the lowest 10 per cent earned an average of less than £13,591.

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 £28,684 and £34,086, respectively. Cable and other subscription programming paid an average of £38,408, while cameramen working for federal government agencies earned an average of £41,561.

Pay by Location

Geographical location also impacts upon a cameraman's wages. Pay analysis website surveyed cameraman wages in some major cities and found that, across all industry sectors, Boston and Phoenix had the highest rates -- £48,644 and £37,105, respectively. In contrast, Houston offered £19,944. The BLS reported that Oregon, New Mexico and District of Columbia were the most lucrative states for a cameraman to work in, averaging £48,028, £42,581 and £41,015, respectively. South Dakota, meanwhile, was listed at an average of £17,491.


While the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment opportunities for cameramen will increase by around 11 per cent 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.

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