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Career and Education Opportunities for Camera Operators in San Francisco, California

There are many career and education opportunities for camera operators in the San Francisco, California area. There are currently 7,100 working camera operators in California; this should grow by 17% to about 8,300 working camera operators in the state by 2016. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for camera operators are expected to grow by about 9.2%. In general, camera operators operate television, video, or motion picture camera to photograph images or scenes for various purposes, such as TV broadcasts, advertising, or motion pictures.

A person working as a camera operator can expect to earn about $21 hourly or $43,800 per year on average in California and about $20 hourly or $41,670 yearly on average in the U.S. as a whole. Earnings for camera operators are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of Media Technical in California and better than general Media Technical category earnings nationally. Camera operators work in a variety of jobs, including: broadcast engineer, video camera operator, and television producer.

There are eighty-six schools of higher education in the San Francisco area, including five within twenty-five miles of San Francisco where you can get a degree to start your career as a camera operator. Given that the most common education level for camera operators is a high school diploma or GED, you can expect to spend only a short time training to become a camera operator if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Camera Operator

Camera Operator video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, camera operators operate television, video, or motion picture camera to photograph images or scenes for various purposes, such as TV broadcasts, advertising, or motion pictures.

Camera operators use cameras in any of several different camera mounts such as stationary, track-mounted, or crane-mounted. They also operate zoom lenses, changing images according to given requirements and rehearsal instructions. Finally, camera operators operate television or motion picture cameras to record scenes for television broadcasts or motion pictures.

Every day, camera operators are expected to be able to understand events and object details at a distance. They need to listen to and understand others in meetings. It is also important that they evaluate problems as they arise.

It is important for camera operators to adjust positions and controls of cameras and related apparatus to change focus and lighting. They are often called upon to gather and edit raw footage on location to send to television affiliates for broadcast, using electronic news-gathering or film-production equipment. They also observe sets or locations for potential problems and to establish filming and lighting requirements. They are sometimes expected to test and maintain apparatus to insure proper working condition. Somewhat less frequently, camera operators are also expected to view films to deal with problems of exposure control, subject and camera movement, changes in subject distance, and related variables.

Camera operators sometimes are asked to label and record contents of exposed film, and note details on report forms. They also have to be able to download exposed film for shipment to processing labs and read charts and compute ratios to establish variables such as lighting and camera distances. And finally, they sometimes have to ready slates that describe the scenes being filmed.

Like many other jobs, camera operators must be reliable and be thorough and dependable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in San Francisco include:

  • Broadcast Technician. Set up, operate, and maintain the electronic equipment used to transmit radio and television programs. Control audio equipment to regulate volume level and quality of sound during radio and television broadcasts. Operate radio transmitter to broadcast radio and television programs.
  • Choreographer. Create and teach dance. May direct and stage presentations.
  • Director. Interpret script, conduct rehearsals, and direct activities of cast and technical crew for stage, motion pictures, or radio programs.
  • Film or Videotape Editor. Edit motion picture soundtracks, film, and video.
  • Graphic Designer. Design or create graphics to meet specific commercial or promotional needs, such as packaging, displays, or logos. May use a variety of mediums to achieve artistic or decorative effects.
  • Music Composer. Write and transcribe musical scores.
  • Photographer. Photograph persons, subjects, or other commercial products. May develop negatives and produce finished prints.
  • Set and Exhibit Designer. Design special exhibits and movie, television, and theater sets. May study scripts, confer with directors, and conduct research to determine appropriate architectural styles.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Camera Operator Training

Academy of Art University - San Francisco, CA

Academy of Art University, 79 New Montgomery, San Francisco, CA 94105. Academy of Art University is a large university located in San Francisco, California. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 13,335 students. Academy of Art University has associate's degree, bachelor's degree, and master's degree programs in Cinematography and Film/Video Production which graduated thirteen, ninety-four, and twelve students respectively in 2008.

Ex-Pression College for Digital Arts - Emeryville, CA

Ex-Pression College for Digital Arts, 6601 Shellmond St, Emeryville, CA 94608. Ex-Pression College for Digital Arts is a small college located in Emeryville, California. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 251 students and an admission rate of 80%. Ex-Pression College for Digital Arts has a bachelor's degree program in Audiovisual Communications Technologies/Technicians, Other Specialties which graduated 162 students in 2008.

College of Marin - Kentfield, CA

College of Marin, 835 College Ave, Kentfield, CA 94904-2590. College of Marin is a medium sized college located in Kentfield, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 6,577 students. College of Marin has an associate's degree program in Cinematography and Film/Video Production which graduated two students in 2008.

San Francisco Art Institute - San Francisco, CA

San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94133-2299. San Francisco Art Institute is a small school located in San Francisco, California. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 592 students and an admission rate of 71%. San Francisco Art Institute has bachelor's degree, postbaccalaureate certificate, and master's degree programs in Cinematography and Film/Video Production which graduated zero, one, and seven students respectively in 2008.

City College of San Francisco - San Francisco, CA

City College of San Francisco, 50 Phelan Ave, San Francisco, CA 94112-1898. City College of San Francisco is a large college located in San Francisco, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 49,897 students. City College of San Francisco has an associate's degree program in Cinematography and Film/Video Production.

CERTIFICATIONS

Certified Legal Video Specialist: The use of video in the legal environment is growing fast.

For more information, see the National Court Reporters Association website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California
San Francisco, California photo by Optigan13

San Francisco is located in San Francisco County, California. It has a population of over 808,976, which has grown by 4.2% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in San Francisco, 180, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in San Francisco cost $218,300 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, fifty-seven new homes were built in San Francisco, up from fifty-five the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in San Francisco are professional, scientific, and technical services, health care, and educational services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, accommodation and food services, and construction. The average travel time to work is about 31 minutes. More than 45.0% of San Francisco residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 16.4%, is higher than the state average.

The percentage of San Francisco residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 41.8%, is less than both the national and state average. Gold Mountain Monastery, Golden Gate Community Church of the Nazarene and Golden Gate Lutheran Church are among the churches located in San Francisco. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the United Methodist Church.

San Francisco is home to the Pier 88 and the Prayer Book Cross as well as Helen Wills Playground and Music Concourse. Shopping malls in the area include Yerba Buena Square Shopping Center, Fox Plaza Shopping Center and Galleria At Crocker Center Shopping Center. Visitors to San Francisco can choose from Astoria Hotel, A-1 Inn Motel and Best Western Canterbury Hotel for temporary stays in the area.