Median annual earnings for television, video, and motion picture camera operators were $37,610 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $22,640 and $56,400. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $15,730, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $76,100. Median annual earnings were $48,900 in the motion picture and video industries and $29,560 in radio and television broadcasting.
Median annual earnings for film and video editors were $43,590 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $29,310 and $63,890. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,710, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $93,950. Median annual earnings were $44,710 in the motion picture and video industries, which employed the largest numbers of film and video editors.
Many camera operators who work in film or video are freelancers, whose earnings tend to fluctuate each year. Because most freelance camera operators purchase their own equipment, they incur considerable expense acquiring and maintaining cameras and accessories. Some camera operators belong to unions, including the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians.