How To Become a Sports Camera Operator

Sports cameramen must have in-depth knowledge of video equipment, excellent hand-eye coordination, and communication skills. These positions require a college degree. The outlook for camera operators points to faster job growth than average.

Sports cameramen work to capture sporting events and must be attentive and steady-handed. Earning a bachelors degree in broadcasting, film studies or communications gives candidates the necessary education to pursue this career, which typically begins by putting in time as a production assistant. Demand for the position is expected to increase, but competition for these positions is also increasing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Most sports camera operators have a bachelor’s degree in an area like sports broadcasting and knowledge of digital technology and video editing software. They may receive on-the-job training by working as a videographer for their college’s athletics department or interning at a small local station.

How to get a Job in Sports Photography or Videography

What does a sports camera operator do?

Here are some of the daily tasks a sports camera operator might do:

What is a sports camera operator?

A sports camera operator controls cameras and related film equipment at sports events for television networks or sports teams. They might film specific shots during a game, handle a portable camera to capture action close-ups and interviews or use a stationary camera to film commentary in a station studio. They take direction from the broadcast director on which shots to capture and where to focus their attention and their camera.

Benefits of becoming a sports camera operator

Here are some of this positions benefits:

Attend games and experience significant sports moments

As a camera operator, you can get paid to attend sports games and watch every second of play. You can record the last-minute goals and impressive athletic feats that get replayed and remembered for years afterward. If you decide to work as a freelance operator, you set your own schedule, covering your favorite teams regularly or creating a schedule full of variety.

Fast-paced work

Sports broadcasting is a fast-paced environment, involving quick switches from one perspective or commentator to another. Camera operators have to be alert for any adjustments in their instructions from their broadcast director or unexpected events. Broadcasting requires constant attention and accuracy, but the excitement can be worth it.


This job can involve traveling to other cities and countries for games or tournaments. If the camera operator works with a major network, they might travel for Olympic competitions or international tournaments. Independent sports camera operators may get contracts covering international teams.

5 steps to become a sports camera operator

Here are five steps to develop a career as a sports camera operator:

1. Consider college

A sports camera operator needs technical knowledge of camera operation and broadcasting techniques and college-level education can help you develop these skills. Majors or minors in film studies, journalism, sports broadcasting or communication can all offer film-related courses. These classes can teach you how to operate cameras and broadcasting software, how to edit footage and how to light and shoot stationary shots like interviews, all while practicing with professional-level equipment.

Some schools have student networks that offer opportunities to learn by broadcasting school sports events or recording lectures. Film or cinema departments may have relationships with companies or national networks that can help you get an internship. The faculty, visiting professors and fellow students you meet in school might even help you find job opportunities or provide a mentoring relationship.

2. Get an internship

You may look for internship positions as an alternative to a college education or a way to gain experience during school breaks or after graduation. Internship positions can help you learn different aspects of broadcasting through practice and conversations with professionals. You might find an internship through an online listing, a professional network connection or even by reaching out to a network or sports team youd like to work with.

3. Get experience through entry-level positions

You can gain professional experience from entry-level jobs with a television station, sports broadcasting company, individual team or sports film company. You might work as a production assistant, broadcast assistant or grip to help physically manage cameras and sound equipment. Working as a camera operator in a studio setting with stationary cameras can help you become familiar with the pace and equipment of professional production. As you demonstrate an ability to learn and a facility with the camera equipment, you can become a stronger candidate for promotion to a sports camera operator job.

4. Develop a clip reel

A clip reel, also called a demo reel, is the professional portfolio for camera operators. Your clip reel can include your best shots from your school or professional work. If you dont have significant experience, you might use the equipment available to you and create a reel by filming local games for practice. Watching how professional camera operators cover different sports, where they focus and which players they follow can help you learn techniques to use in your reel.

5. Learn other film skills

Widening your experiences can help you be a more competitive candidate. Learning how to operate different kinds of equipment can help you transfer your skills to different sports and facilities. Smaller companies might appreciate production skills like video editing, script writing and basic animation or special effects skills that enable you to help with more of the production process.

Salary and job outlook for sports camera operators

Here are some other careers a sports camera operator might pursue:


How do you become a NFL camera operator?

If you want to work as a sports cameraperson, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting, film studies or communications, then put in time working as a production assistant. You must have an in-depth knowledge of video equipment.

How do you become a sports cinematographer?

Most sports camera operators have a bachelor’s degree in an area like sports broadcasting and knowledge of digital technology and video editing software. They may receive on-the-job training by working as a videographer for their college’s athletics department or interning at a small local station.

Is it easy to become a camera operator?

While certain camera operator jobs may require a formal education—an associate’s degree in video production or a bachelor’s degree in television production—a high school diploma and strong working knowledge of how to use a camera is enough to get you started.

How much do NFL camera operators make?

According to, the average annual NBA cameraman salary is $66,192, the average annual ESPN cameraman salary is $74,542, and the average annual NFL cameraman salary is $93,316 .

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