Cinematographer Salary

Very much a male-dominated career in the United States, Cinematographers earn an average of $45K per year. Pay ranges from $30K on the low end to $177K per year on the high end. Geography and experience level each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence. Job satisfaction is high and work is enjoyable for most Cinematographers. Roughly two in five report receiving medical coverage from their employers and slightly less than a third collect dental insurance. This snapshot results from replies to PayScale's salary survey.
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$27,967 - $96,973
(Median)
$28K
$45K
$97K
MEDIAN: $44,772
10%
50%
90%

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$20.93 - $99.10
(Median)
$21
$50
$99
MEDIAN: $49.00
10%
50%
90%

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National Salary Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$60K$120K$180K
Salary
$27,967 - $96,973  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $9,933  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$30,000 - $176,921  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 20 Jun 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 51
National Hourly Rate Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$50$100$150
Hourly Rate
$20.93 - $99.10  
   
Overtime
$23.55 - $133.15  
National Annualized Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$100K$200K$300K
Bonus
$0.00 - $9,933  
   
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$30,000 - $176,921  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 20 Jun 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 33
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Job Description for Cinematographer

When filming scenes for movies, television, or instructional or educational videos, a cinematographer fills a key role. He or she acts as the eyes of the director, typically working with that person to figure out what the vision of the film should be. The cinematographer then brings this vision into being by choosing the different ways and techniques the filmed or video project will be shot.

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Pay by Experience Level for Cinematographer

Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.


The median compensation for relatively untried workers is $49K; in the five-to-10 year group, it's higher at around $64K. Experienced professionals — those with 10 to 20 years in the field — see salaries in the six-figure territory, securing around $100K on average. Survey participants with more than two decades under their belts actually report earning less than people with less experience; the former take home only $96K on average.

Cinematographer Advice

What do you wish you knew about your job when you first started out?

Cinematographer in New York:
"Networking Is Very Important."
It is important that you stay in touch with your colleagues as well as potential employers. You cannot wait for them to find you.

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Experience Affects Cinematographer Salaries

Experienced
up arrow 61%

Late-Career
up arrow 54%

Mid-Career
up arrow 3%

National Average
$62,000

Entry-Level
up arrow 22%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 14 votes.

Gender

Female
7 %
Male
93 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
2%
1-4 years
35%
5-9 years
37%
10-19 years
15%
20 years or more
11%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 39% dental benefits Dental: 31%
vision benefits Vision: 18% employee benefits None: 61%
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