In the 21st century, a complete news story might include written text, an eye-catching infographic, a forum for people to post comments about the story and a short video that helps people experience the sights and sounds of the story. With that multimedia approach comes the need for skilled videographers who know how to shoot and edit and who can also conduct interviews and write stories. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job of shooter will remain competitive, though you may be able to squeeze into the industry with the right mix of education, training and experience.
While not always required, a college degree is often the first step in joining a newsroom. A degree in broadcast journalism or video production will go a long way, though newer degrees might also help you get the education you need. Programs in digital storytelling, multimedia or mobile media are popping up at colleges across the United States, providing a background in computers as well as shooting and editing.
If you're on the college track, the next step toward landing a job in the industry is getting some on-the-job training. If your college has a TV station or a student newscast, take part. Learn the basics of using studio and field cameras, but also get as much experience as you can in editing, directing and managing the studio space. Internships are also very common in the journalism field. Talk to your college adviser about possible connections, or visit the jobs or internships page of local and national networks to apply. Landing an internship's no guarantee you'll get hired, but you'll at least make some connections and get references that can lead to other opportunities.
If you're not considering college, you have other ways to gain the experience you'll need to become a competent videographer. Some employers might overlook your lack of a degree if you have an impressive resume and lots of experience. Look to your local cable access or community media program, where you may be able to sign up for classes in shooting and editing. Also search for job shadowing experiences with camera operators or videographers -- sometimes simply called photographers at local TV stations. When you have some training under your belt, set up your own blog or website and then set out to cover a few local events that you can feature on your site. Also, don't overlook entry-level jobs in film, TV or journalism. Working as a production assistant on a film or as a studio camera operator in a local TV station can get you some experience and put you in contact with people in the industry.
All that experience you obtain will help you develop the all-important demo reel. A videographer's reel -- its name paying homage to the period when film was stored on a round reel -- is the equivalent to the portfolios used by artists, writers and other creatives. It shows your best clips, allowing an employer to see your range and shooting abilities. Generally, shorter is better; Media College recommends making your reel only 30 seconds long, adding just a few key shots from your best shoots. You'll also need a resume and a well-written cover letter that speaks to the job at hand, but it's that reel that has to wow an employer. Keep yours updated continually, adding new, exciting clips as you make them.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators: Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts
- Columbia University: Tow Center for Digital Journalism
- Digital Journalism: A Degree in Journalism, Now What?
- Media College: How to Make a Demo Reel
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images