Employment Outlook for Film and Television

Job growth, but wages won't meet high expectations

Job openings in the motion picture industry are expected to grow by 17 percent in the next decade, which is more than the average growth for all industries combined. Add to that an increasing international market and high employment turnover and it seems the job prospects will be more than favorable. Employment opportunities in television will see average growth. Two factors that might make prospects less favorable are an unusually high number of talented applicants and video piracy (the stealing or downloading of movies and television programs), which drains money from the industry.

Workers who will see the best opportunities and relatively least competition are computer specialists, film and video editors, sound engineering technicians and other specialized workers. Those with experience in digital filming and editing should also fare well.

Where film and TV professionals will work

New satellite and cable TV channels (which require programming) and an increased demand for in-home entertainment (DVDs, internet video) will make up most new job opportunities.

Camera operators will film internet broadcasts such as live music videos and entertainment programming. Actors will find there a number of jobs in live entertainment such as theatre, touring productions and in theme parks and resorts. Other work will be found with direct-to-Web movies and videos, independent and studio films and in cable and satellite television productions. You can find out more about any of these careers by getting information directly from schools in our directory of film and video schools.

Camera operator wages

Camera operators in the motion picture industry make about $48,900 at the mid-point, while they make only $29,560 in radio and television broadcasting.

  • Median annual earnings - $37,610
  • Middle 50 percent - $22,640 to $56,400
  • Top 10 percent -$76,100
  • Bottom 10 percent - under $15,730

Film and video editor wages

  • Median annual earnings - $43,590
  • Middle 50 percent - $29,310 to $63,890
  • Top 10 percent -$93,950
  • Bottom 10 percent - under $21,710

Sound engineering technician wages

  • Median annual earnings - $38,110
  • Middle 50 percent - $25,470
  • Top 10 percent - over $80,450
  • Bottom 10 percent - under $19,180

Audio/video equipment technician wages

  • Median annual earnings - $32,570
  • Middle 50 percent - $24,180 to $44,290
  • Top 10 percent -$58,620
  • Bottom 10 percent - under $19,110

Actor wages

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic compiles only hourly wages for actors since many don't work for long periods of time or work in other industries for most of the year. The average income Screen Actors Guild Members earn from acting is $5,000 a year. The million dollar paychecks promoted in the media are extremely rare.

  • Median hourly earnings - $11.28
  • Middle 50 percent - $7.75 to $30.76
  • Top 10 percent -$56.48
  • Bottom 10 percent - under $6.63

Producers and director wages (salaried)

  • Median annual earnings, radio and TV - $43,890
  • Median annual earnings, motion picture and video - $75,200
  • Middle 50 percent - $35,500 to $87,980

Statistics courtesy the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2004